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Development of a Method to Mark and Detect Polymer in Fuels

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199595D
Publication Date: 2010-Sep-10
Document File: 3 page(s) / 240K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Methods for detecting the presence or absence of polymers or polymer components associated with drag reducing additive (DRA) in fuels is described, which may provide quantification limits as low as 50 ppb. The basis for the method is the use of a chemical marker, which can be either co-injected into the product pipeline with the drag reducing additive, or introduced into the drag reducing polymer structure itself during its manufacture. Quantitative detection of the marker in a fuel sample using a simple field test facilitates determination of the amount of DRA in the sample. The method may be particularly useful in determining the presence or absence of DRA in fuels, such as jet or LPG, in which the presence of DRA is undesirable.

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Publication No. 2010.1693

Development of a Method to Mark and Detect Polymer in Fuels

Authors:

Barb Whittaker

Paul Bessonette

Krystal Wrigley

Abstract

Methods for detecting the presence or absence of polymers or polymer components associated with drag reducing additive (DRA) in fuels is described, which may provide quantification limits as low as 50 ppb. The basis for the method is the use of a chemical marker, which can be either co-injected into the product pipeline with the drag reducing additive, or introduced into the drag reducing polymer structure itself during its manufacture. Quantitative detection of the marker in a fuel sample using a simple field test facilitates determination of the amount of DRA in the sample.  The method may be particularly useful in determining the presence or absence of DRA in fuels, such as jet or LPG, in which the presence of DRA is undesirable.

Background

The active ingredients in drag reducing additives (DRA) are ultra high molecular weight polymers, which function to reduce pipeline drag through suppression of energy dissipation by turbulent eddies near the pipe wall[1]. DRA typically consists of these polymers dissolved or suspended in a solvent. The use of DRA in multiproduct pipelines can provide many benefits including significantly increased product throughput and operation cost reduction.  DRA are often used in connection with the transportation of hydrocarbon products through finished product pipelines, except those transporting jet fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).  

In most products the DRA polymers are shear degraded by pumps and filters in the distribution system to smaller polymers which have minimal or no impact on fit-for-purpose performance of the fuel. However, in jet fuel, low (i.e., ppm) levels of drag reducing polymers and their shear degraded derivatives have been shown to prevent engine relight under flight conditions (i.e., defined altitudes and temperatures) where relight is expected and required by the aircraft’s type certificate[2].  Thus, drag reducing polymers are not approved for use in jet fuel. To ensure airworthiness, product quality and specification compliance, it is necessary to verify the absence of the polymer in jet fuel when transported by pipelines using DRA.

Currently, detection of the DRA polymers in fuel samples is performed in a laboratory using equipment that is impractical for field use.  ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (“EMRE”) has succeeded in measuring down to 50 ppb of DRA in jet fuel using a laboratory test method involving gel permeation chromatography of a concentrated sample, with quantification accomplished using an external evaporative mass detector. However, this process has significant disadvantages. Samples must be shipped to the lab, and the analysis is costly and can take several days.  This lengthy turnaround timing could cause jet fuel deliveries to be delayed and product recalls could cause airports to have inad...