Central to our modern economy, the chemicals industry is responsible for converting raw materials (such as oil, natural gas, air, water, metals and minerals) into more than 70,000 different products. Like the drilling of wells for hydrocarbons, processes in refineries and chemical plants inevitably result in flaring to burn gas.
Identifying the cause
Flaring is performed in the chemicals industry for a range of reasons.
Tail gas – gas produced in a refinery or plant that is not required for further processing – is one source of flaring. Having no further value to the plant, the chemicals industry historically burnt this excess gas. However, legislation is increasingly requiring plants to recover elements of tail gas.
Flaring is also often done at startup and shut down and is used to prevent damage to equipment from volatile temperatures and pressure arising as the result of a ‘process upset’. Flaring helps ensure the safety of employees and the smooth operation of facilities. Though flaring may occur for similar reasons in the oil and gas and chemicals industries, the demands of flare measurement and management devices differ.
A flowmeter is essential for the safe creation of chemical solutions, accurately measuring fluids and gases. Knowing how much gas is flared or vented enables chemicals companies to reduce emissions, generate revenue by selling gas or even create savings through onsite re-use.
In addition, the wealth of data collected by modern measurement meters for mass-balance calculation irregularities will help identify potential leaks before they pose a risk to on-site safety.
Ready for regulation
Measuring flare gas in chemical production requires specific management. Flaring is often carried out in the presence of high process temperatures (including hot gases) and involves a wide variety of compounds and gas compositions that create challenges for traditional measurement devices. However, with new EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) regulations on Ethylene flaring in the United States expected in late 2018 and government regulation growing stricter across the globe, measurement accuracy is critical for compliance.
The reduction of routine flaring is a focus for many international regulations and NGO initiatives. Managing flare gas emissions is not only industry best practice – it places chemicals companies at the forefront of a more sustainable way to use natural resources.
Ultrasonic meters are the only devices that can deliver highly accurate results in flaring applications. While typical regulations today ask for 5% accuracy, only ultrasonic technology has the potential to keep up with stricter requirements and changing environments.
Using the latest ultrasonic sensing technology, Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter is used in chemicals markets across the globe to accurately measure and monitor flare gas.
For more information on Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter, click here.