Analysis of tramp amines

Tramp amines are a challenging crude oil contaminant for refinery operations. These amines generally arrive at the refinery from upstream processing—in-field sulfide scavenging. When they reach the desalter, amines like monoethanolamine and methylamine, wash into the aqueous phase. Eventually, they find their way to wastewater, where, without monitoring and control, they can result in process upsets, nitrification, and environmental citations.

On the other hand, any tramp amines that remain in the crude can form heat-stable salts in the tower. These salts precipitate, creating hard-to-treat, corrosive deposits. The solution is to operate at high-enough temperature that the salts do not form—an expensive option that limits distillation options. The amines that pass through to the overhead are recycled back to the desalter, increasing the amine, driving up the pH, and amplifying the corrosion risk.

OndaVia’s amine monitoring tools can improve refinery process control. Our fast, simple techniques provide the data needed to adjust acid dosing or to modify crude blends.

In work with a Midwest refinery, we monitored overhead water for monoethanolamine content with side-by-side comparison against ion chromatography. The chromatographic results required sample conditioning and shipping, while the OndaVia analysis was performed on-site. The data below demonstrates excellent agreement between complex, expensive, maintenance-intensive chromatographic methods and the easy-to-use OndaVia analyzer.

Monoethanolamine tramp amine analysis via Quantitative Raman Spectroscopy in comparison to ion chromatography

This data can be used to adjust acid additions or to modify crude blends to minimize amine levels in the overhead. This adjustment, in turn, reduces energy consumption and improves tower performance, saving money and improving output.

What to learn more? Read our paper in Energy & Fuels. Or reach out.

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