• Your One-stop Shop for Viscosity Measurement

Analytical Instrumentation

Your One-stop Shop for Viscosity Measurement

Jun 24 2009

With accurate and reliable viscosity measurement forming an essential part of day-to-day operations in the oil industry, choosing the right instrumentation brings immediate improvements to product quality, consistency, efficiency and throughput, all of which impact on productivity. Petroleum process engineers looking for precise, reliable and trouble-free viscosity measurement on- or off-line will find everything they need at Hydramotion Ltd. (UK).

The Hydramotion range includes the XL7 on-line viscometer and the battery-powered portable Viscolite® as well as a variety of specialised and bespoke viscometers for particular applications. All are no-moving parts instruments ready to use straight out of the box, simple to operate and built to last. Every viscometer is factory-calibrated to traceable international standards and needs no recalibration. The single solid-rod sensor is an all-welded 316 stainless steel construction with no seals or bearings that can wear out or fail in service, requiring minimal maintenance over an exceptionally long life.

The on-line XL7 viscometer can be installed within minutes in any orientation on pipes or tanks of any dimensions or capacity. Viscosity measurement starts without further ado as soon as the power supply is connected. Unaffected by flow rate or bubbles (“slugs”) of air or gas, the measurement technology naturally rejects plant noise and vibration, while high-temperature models are capable of operating at up to 450°C (842°F) without any special cooling. The standard probe is an all-welded construction using 316 stainless steel, but other materials such as special alloys may be used, or the sensor can be provided with a protective coating. Any process fitting can be supplied. All models are available in intrinsically safe versions certified to ATEX Ex II 1G, suitable for use in the most hazardous Zone 0 environments (Class 1 Division 1 Group A).

Traditional methods of measuring viscosity cannot be used at the high pressures sometimes encountered in the oilfield drill pipe, which can be as much as 7500 psi (517 bar). But measuring viscosity at high pressures is all in a day’s work for the XL7, whose unique technology imposes no theoretical limit on operating pressure. Numerous instruments have been supplied to leading oilfield services providers for a variety of wellhead and other applications, including the measurement of heavy oil at 5000 psi and 100°C. Instruments rated at 20,000 psi (1380 bar) have been supplied and higher ratings are perfectly possible. The device is ideal for oilfield or other aggressive environments where removal or replacement of the device would be costly, inconvenient or impractical.

A typical application for the XL7 viscometer is the blending of heavy fuel oil with gas oil to give intermediate grades. The instrument is also being used to measure the viscosity of quench oil at 180°C (360°F) during the downgrading of gasoline compounds to fuel oil at the base of a cracking tower. The XL7 has high sensitivity and although the quench oil is heavily loaded with coke particles the instrument is providing excellent repeatability (<1% of reading) even at the low viscosities involved (around 2 cSt).

Meanwhile, the Viscolite® portable viscometer is a versatile tool providing instant viscosity measurement anywhere, in the lab, factory floor or out in the field. Fully portable and ready for use straight out of the box, the Viscolite can detect a viscosity difference of as little as 0.1 centipoise with excellent repeatability, even at low viscosities. Measurement is quick and simple: the sensor probe is simply dipped into the fluid and measured viscosity is displayed immediately on the hand-held readout unit, with no tedious setting-up required. After use, the probe can be wiped clean in seconds.  The instrument is supplied in a robust yet lightweight carrying case for portability and ease of storage.

The Viscolite incorporates an integrated temperature sensor so that measurements made ad hoc can be corrected to a reference temperature. This facility is very useful in the field, for example where viscosity measurements may have to be made under ambient temperature conditions very different from those stipulated in a specification. 

As with all Hydramotion viscometers the Viscolite needs no calibration by the user, no matter what the sample volume. This reflects another advantage of using Hydramotion technology: the low cost of ownership. There is no need for costly periodic recalibration back at the factory, there are no delicate or expensive accessories to replace, and with no moving parts to wear out, maintenance requirements are negligible.

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