What Is In-line Blending? – Systems & Process Advantages
June 11, 2019 Welcome
In-line blending is a viable alternative to the conventional in-tank blending technique, offering significant cost benefits to bunker operators. This article will discuss this blending technique, its applications, and benefits.
What Is in-line Blending?
In-line blending, or continuous blending is the process of mixing crude oil or petrochemical feedstocks (blend components) to produce a homogenous mixture of consistent quality.
According to the International Bunker Industry Association’s guide to in-line blending, the aim of every bunker operator would be to:
- Meet international standards for quality of the final blend, particularly the ISO 8217
- Achieve homogenous blends with a consistent quality
- Produce blends cost-effectively
- Achieve blending with the minimum justifiable CAPEX.
Benefits of In-line Blending
In-line blending systems offer several advantages over conventional in-tank blending, including:
- Cost savings – An In-line blending system delivers cost savings (up to $10/ton) and higher ROI compared to in-tank blending.
- Reduced production time – In-line blending allows for simultaneous loading, mixing, blending, and measurement operations. The process can be fully automated and proceed with minimal supervision.
- Improved quality – The quality of the final blend is typically more homogenous and consistent than those produced using in-tank blending techniques.
- Greater production flexibility – The blend specifications can be configured to a client’s specific requirements and the chemical blending equipment can have their flow and quality parameters adjusted easily to ensure optimal operation.
Advantages over In-tank Blending
In-tank blending sequentially or simultaneously measures the products to be blended (feedstock) before they are mixed together in a blending or storage tank to produce a homogenous product. After mixing, a sample is taken out of the tank and analyzed to determine if it meets quality requirements.
If the product is not truly homogenous, additional blending requirements are made after which blending is repeated. The final product may be stored or shipped off to final consumers.
As observed, the main drawbacks to in-tank blending are:
- Lack of flexibility in the process – Significant planning can be required to provide storage capacity for the produced blends.
- Time-consuming – In-tank blending is a slower process than in-line blending, taking up to a few hours to mix properly. Manual sampling may take up extra time as well.
- Additional storage/space requirements – Bunker operators using in-tank blending will require additional investment to procure blending tanks to store the products as well as extra arrangements to meet space constraints, where applicable.
- Margin of error – In-tank blending uses a theoretical ratio of feedstock to achieve homogeneity in the final mixtures. Consequently, it produces blends with a margin of error and results in give-away of feedstock/cutter stock.
- Capital lockup – Pre-blended stock may create capital lockup for operators pending sale of the stored products.
Applications of In-line Mixing Equipment in the Oil and Gas Industry
In the competitive and dynamic oil and gas industry, flexibility of processes keeps an operator one step ahead of the competition. In-line mixing equipment can help oilfield players optimize their blending processes at various phases of oil and gas production.
In-line blending is employed in midstream and downstream operations for blending gasoline, distillates, and several other crude oil fractions by injecting each component into a process stream and mixing them with turbulence. While mixing, anti-knock agents, octane enhancing agents, anti-oxidants, and other substances can be added to improve the quality of the final hydrocarbons.
Need to modularize your liquid blending? As experienced lube oil skid manufacturers, IFS offers modular blending solutions for solid or granular polymers in your process.
Essential Considerations for Choosing an In-Line Blending System
The essential considerations for choosing an in-line blending solution include:
- Formulation – An optimal ratio of feedstock for the blend is vital to produce a final product with consistent quality.
- Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) – Before choosing any solution, a bunker operator needs to ascertain the capital expenditure necessary to acquire and install the in-line mixing equipment as well as the long-run economics and ROI the system will facilitate.
- Simplicity – It is essential for operators to choose solutions with simpler installation and greater ease of maintenance. The right solution must also provide all necessary documentation for batch selection, operation, and troubleshooting to avoid costly downtime.
- Accuracy of Sampling – While manual sampling is still extensively used throughout the industry, it is often less accurate than automatic sampling. Moreover, the location of the sampler is vital to ensure precision of the sampled blends.
In-Line Mixing Systems: Standard vs. Custom Solutions
In-line blending mixers are available in standard or custom configurations. The key benefit of using a custom manufactured in-line chemical mixer is that it is tailored to your application and specific range of feedstock.
Although these systems may cost more than standard solutions, they pay for themselves over time with greater efficiency, longer operational life, and minimal operating and maintenance costs.
See How IFS Can Improve Your Blending Process
Integrated Flow Solutions is one of the leading skid manufacturing companies in the area that provides modular and custom process equipment for the oil and gas industry. We combine cutting-edge engineering expertise and vast knowledge of the industry to deliver reliable solutions for the most challenging blending operations.
To find out ways we can improve your blending process with our products and services, please contact us online today, or call us at 281-855-8125.