Regulators are moving toward higher temporal resolution for certain pollutants, including benzene at oil refinery boundaries under US EPA Method 325 on a two-week time-weighted average.
But does this degree of time resolution really help the petrochemical industry to address pollution issues? After all what use is it finding out that significant amounts of benzene have been released two weeks after the event.
The reality is that chemically significant events are dynamic and the ability to understand them through comprehensive, time-resolved analysis better equips the petrochemical industry with data that enables the root cause to be addressed. Traditional methods (involving time-averaged site sampling and laboratory analysis) are ill-equipped to address these issues.
With Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) you can readily address the problem and solve it through comprehensive, real-time air analysis. SIFT-MS is also extremely sensitive and robust to humidity – no preconcentration or drying is required for detection at part-per-trillion-by-volume (pptv) concentrations.
The data below show the results of fenceline monitoring at the boundary of a petroleum production station in New Zealand (NZ). The Syft Technologies Voice200ultra SIFT-MS instrument was stationed at the site boundary, approximately 50 meters (160 feet) east of a storage tank that was suspected of emitting benzene. By using SIFT-MS, benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene plus the xylenes (BTEX) were monitored every minute at detection limits better than 0.5 ppbv with multiple analyzing ions per target compound.
Fenceline monitoring for BTEX using SIFT-MS.
When the wind had a westerly component, BTEX was observed at significant concentrations due to the storage tank regularly releasing pressure. When the wind shifted to the easterly direction, concentrations drop rapidly to baseline levels. Continuous SIFT-MS measurement of these species with high time resolution enabled the production facility to identify issues and undertake engineering changes to reduce the emissions.
Posted by Mark Jones, Business Analyst at Syft Technologies