Crude Oil

Applications for Crude Oil Processing

Delivering End to End Gas Monitoring Solutions for Petrochemical and Refining Applications

Refineries process crude oil into usable petroleum-based chemicals. Process analyzers such as our FGA-1000™ Flare Gas Analyzer with Excimer UV Fluorescence Technology for monitoring refinery flare gas and subsequent sulfur dioxide emissions, our NIR Spectrometer Photometers with in-situ sample interfaces, our UV-VIS wavelength spectrometers, and our visible spectrometers used are all necessary for real-time monitoring in a profitable modern petrochemical environment.  Take a look at how our analyzers can be installed in a refinery and the various ASTM methods that they satisfy.

NIR Process Spectroscopy for the Petrochemical Industry


Refineries process crude oil into usable petroleum-based chemicals. Process analyzers such as ATOM INSTRUMENT’s Flare Gas Analyzer, SOFRASER’s Thermoset Viscosity Analyzer, our Near Infrared Spectrometer/Photometers, and in-situ sample interfaces are all necessary for real-time monitoring in a profitable modern refinery. By installing and calibrating these process analyzers, technicians and plant managers gain access to a wide range of actionable information in seconds. Thus, enabling them to optimize operating conditions.

Near-Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is used to monitor the hydrocarbon composition of various streams in the petrochemical and refining industries. actionable information. A sample interface can be installed in each processing stage of a refinery to provide real-time data and actionable information.  At each stage of the refinery process, NIR spectroscopy is used to monitor specific traits such as the Research Octane Rating, benzene content, and butane content.  Our NIR-UV-VIS portfolio delivers measurement for:

  • Real-time monitoring of naphtha conversion, catalytic conversion, upgrading units, alkylation, and gasoline and diesel blending
  • PIONA content of Reformate, octane numbers, volatility (RVP, vapor-to-liquid ratio), aromatics content, olefins, oxygen, benzene, distillation parameters, Fuel ID, Color plus Turbidity

ClearView db® is a Dual Beam Photometer for Continuous PAT Monitoring which is available with enclosure options.  Our Lab NIR-O Benchtop NIR Spectrometer is ideal for the QC lab and Pilot Plant Operations.

The infographic shown below outlines where different analyzers can be installed in a refinery and the various ASTM methods that they satisfy.

Other middleweight products such as kerosene, gasoline, and naphtha can be sent to a fuel blender where an infinite number of grades or blends can be produced to meet the requirement of the end customer. In order to achieve the best possible margin, various analyzers can be installed inline to inspect the fuel blending process.

If a higher-octane rating is required, light naphtha can be sent through the isomerization reactor. During a single pass-through isomerization process, normal paraffins are converted to isoparaffins. Alternatively, the isomerization unit can be used to convert linear molecules (i.e. pentane) into higher-octane branched molecules for fuel blending. Also used to convert linear n-butane into iso-butane for use in the alky unit. During the isomerization process, Near-Infrared spectroscopy can be used to optimize catalyst conditions.

Additionally, naptha and other petroleum compounds can be converted to useful chemicals as part of the crude to chemical process. This often occurs in a series of Steam or Catalyst Cracking tanks. NIR can be used to monitor the PIONA (Paraffins, Isoparaffins, Olefins, Napthenes, Aromatics) and the Distillation curve during the cracking process. The Reformate or Platformate can then be feed into the fuel blender to adjust the cetane and octane values of the finished product.

Regulations such as the American Tier III, European Euro 6 or the Indian Bharat VI set quantitative limits on the permissible amount of Sulfur Dioxide (SOx), Nitrogen Oxide (NO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), commonly referred to as NOx that are released during combustion. Sulfur and Nitrogen levels are both controlled under these regulations due to the health and environmental impact. To ensure that the final product created at the refinery meets these regulatory requirements, spot inspections for the Total Sulfur and Total Nitrogen can be conducted with our XT Series Laboratory Analyzer for Total Sulfur and Total Nitrogen. Refineries interested in being compliant with ASTM D5453 can utilize the real-time information provided by our patented Excimer Ultraviolet Fluorescence Systems to determine the Total Sulfur in their fuels.

Refineries interested in maximizing profits commonly want to determine the Fuel Octane Numbers (i.e. RON, MON) with online near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopic analyzers such as Guided Wave’s NIR-O. Spectroscopy is a tool compliant with ASTM D6122 which enables refineries to blend expensive high-octane feedstocks with less expensive low octane naphtha while maintaining required octane levels and minimizing costs.

Viscosity is another important physical property in the refining of crude oil. During the fuel blending process, a heavy and high viscosity stream is mixed with a light and low viscosity stream to achieve the desired end product. The expected blend of petroleum products with the correct viscosity level can be achieved thanks to SOFRASER Thermoset-LT, which provides viscosity measurement at constant reference. The Thermoset- KV is the only online direct kinematic viscosity analyzer that is easily correlated with ASTM D445.

Unit operations producing or processing high viscosity streams (visbreaking), bottoms of atmospheric distillation, and vacuum distillation residues can be monitored by MIVI sensors or Thermoset analyzers for improved process control.

After the different grades of fuel have been appropriately blended, they can be sent by a pipeline to the terminal for shipment all around the world. At the downstream terminal, Fuel Identification by NIR spectroscopy ensures that the correct and in-specification petroleum products are loaded for shipment to the customer.

Further to the atmospheric and vacuum distillations, the heavier hydrocarbon chains present in the crude oil must undergo additional cracking and distillation and then be broken up into shorter chains through various cracking and breaking processes. During these processes, analyzers can provide real-time data for plant technicians to make informed decisions on how to achieve the best yield from these residue products. Benzene can be produced During catalysis of the heavy fuels. NIR Spectroscopy can be used to monitor Benzene levels in fuel.


Typically used as a fuel source or intermediate in hydrocarbon production applications, Synthesis Gas (Syngas) compositions must be tightly controlled during processing in order to achieve high quality final products. Our fast, Quadrupole Process Mass Spectrometers have been the preferred analysis system for producers of ammonia, methanol, ethanol and hydrogen for decades. Our field-proven MAX300-RTG 2.0 Industrial Gas Analyzer can quickly cycle between all of the process streams such as the Converter Inlet and Converter Outlet, Pressure Swing Absorber (PSA) Feed, PSA Tailgas or the recycle gas stream.  For laboratory or bench scale reactor studies of Syngas reactions, we offer the process mass spectrometer system in a laboratory package.

  • Fast analysis time of less than 7 seconds per stream
  • Dynamic range to measure % level Syngas composition and PPM level Sulfur contaminates
  • Real-time Results – Monitor the composition of Syngas for tighter control of Gasifier Conditions
  • Monitor all phases and types of gasification
  • Multi-Point Analysis – One analyzer monitors all points of analysis of Syngas production and the resulting final product processes
  • Option to use Questor®5 derived values to calculate and trend process parameters such as heating values, conversion rates and selectivities
  • Next generation design for the inlet, ionizer and filament assembly
  • Standard communication support for Ethernet, Bi-directional Modbus RTU or TCP/IP, OPC, Analog and Digital outputs and custom communications


Questions? We’re here to help.