Analytical Instrumentation

  • Measuring ppm water in petroleum products using Aquamax KF

Measuring ppm water in petroleum products using Aquamax KF

Feb 24 2020 Read 922 Times

Aquamax KF is a globally recognised coulometric Karl Fischer system with over 7000 units in the field, most of them being used for ppm water in petroleum products, crude oils and used oil analysis programs. Back in 2005, Karl Robertson and the GR Scientific R&D team developed the very first Aquamax KF. The idea, was to create a small, robust and portable Karl Fischer that could be used by non-chemist operators directly at the sample point. To cope with the demand of onsite oil analysis, Aquamax KF were supplied with the most robust glassware. The titration vessel and electrodes uses greaseless/PTFE free joints whilst the unique connectors do not allow any ingress of atmospheric moisture. An extremely important feature that greatly reduces any potential breakages and ensures the Aquamax KF can be used in extreme weathers and environments.

Along with robust features, Aquamax KF has a patented technique (ACE control) which combats potential interferences/ side reactions caused by mercaptans in Crude oil and additives used in lubricating oils. Coulometric Karl Fischers are only as good as the solvent being used in them. George Robertson founder of GR Scientific developed a unique coulometric reagent that was not only suitable for analysing oils and petroleum products, but was safe to store and use. Cou-Lo Formula (now Aquamax KF reagent kit) has a formulation where Xylene is pre-mixed into the reagent to improve sample solubility and miscibility. This together along with other solubilizers reduces or even eliminate side reactions caused by mercaptans sulphur or additives used in oils and fuels.

All of this in single shot bottle (100 ml anode and 5 ml cathode), the customer simply opens the bottle and pours the contents into the titration vessel.
The gas tight 1ml oil analysis syringe with 19 gauge needle are supplied with every Aquamax KF titrator. The white lettering allows you to easily identify the sample volume, especially with Crudes or used oils.
To verify the instrument is working correctly is simple.  All Aquamax KF are fitted with an µg button and offered with the Aquamax KF water check micro litre syringe. (both 1µl and 10µl available). Coulometric titrators count in micrograms i.e. 1µl is equivalent to 1000 micrograms. An “in-specification” result is within 2 %, i.e. 980-1020 micrograms from a 1µl injection verifies the reagent and coulometer are working within specification. All of this without the need to buy or run expensive CRM Karl Fischer standards.

Aquamax KF now offers a complete ppm water content package suitable for lab or onsite use. Very quickly, utility companies across the UK started using the Aquamax KF to determine water in transformer oils with many instruments being transported in trucks or installed on mobile labs.  These were predominantly for measuring ppm water in transformer oils.

The instrument was soon recognised as the perfect onsite instrument not just for transformer oils and insulating liquids. Aquamax KF is an essential tool for preventive maintenance programs accurately measuring water in gear box oils, brake fluids, engine oils, turbine fluids and hydraulics.    
The instrument has a built in battery and printer. Also the instrument was the first coulometric Karl Fischer that allows the customer to download their results via USB to the results manager software. The instrument also has the ability to accurately measure down to 1ppm water. Analysis can be performed at the sample point and performed by the operator.  No requirement for laboratory or third party testing. 
This allows the Aquamax KF to be used as a tool which enables companies to make considerable cost benefits in terms of maintenance and breakdown costs.

Measuring water at the sample point gives another clear advantage. Testing samples directly at the sample point means that the samples water contents are tested at the operating temperate of the sample, this is absolutely critical to getting the correct result. Another factor is that the samples are hydroscopic i.e. will absorb water from the atmosphere. In some cases, transformers samples are taken in a glass sample bottle and are sent to a central laboratory or a third party inspector for verification.This could take days or weeks before being tested meaning the sample will have gained atmospheric moisture. The results obtained are incorrect and do not correspond to those results obtained at the sample point.

The ability to measure onsite allowed companies to know the exact water content at the operating temperature. The Aquamax KF were used then for measuring the water content of Crude Oils offshore. This was originally in the North UK Sea but is now used in upstream, pipelines, refining, fuel storage and used oil analysis programs. Most major oil companies and third party inspectors started using Aquamax KF with unrivalled support via unique and global dedicated distribution and service teams.

Gas analysis was also developed for Aquamax KF. Thanks to the twin port gas analysis vessel with a sturdy gas inlet and outlet, Aquamax KF was used for ppm water in natural gases and refrigerant gases.

Here is Karl Robertson back to see the first Aquamax KF ever installed back in September 2006.... It’s been used daily since being installed and in that time, it has perfectly titrated 60,000 refrigerant gases in just under 14 years of use. More recently, Aquamax KF has found a new home with ECH Elektrochemie Halle in Germany. Back in 2017, GR Scientific and ECH Elektrochemie Halle merged creating ECH Scientific Limited, the global sales and marketing division of ECH Elektrochemie Halle GmbH.

The ECH R&D team are truly unique, offering Karl Fischer titrators capable of measuring ppm water in liquids, solid and gases which can used in the laboratory, at the sample point as a portable analyser or even, as an online instrument fully integrated into the process.
ECH are at the forefront of application development, having recently help revise and create new ASTM standards for water content in petroleum products by coulometric Karl Fischer titration and ppm water in Butane (LPG) by Karl Fischer.

ECH and Aquamax KF are not only a perfect partner in water determinations, the ECH R&D department are also heavily involved in developing instrumentation and applications for Gas Chromatography, H2S analysis and various volumetric titrations like total acid and base numbers.

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