Valero upgrades alkylation control at seven refineries

Invensys to deploy its HF alkylation measurement solution to improve cost control, real-time safety, and environmental performance.


Valero Energy has signed a multi-year agreement with Invensys Operations Management to provide its patented ACA.HF advanced alkylation measurement platform. In the first phase, Valero will implement the solution at seven refineries globally. The system monitors and measures hydrofluoric acid levels in real time by analyzing differential responses from online sensors, helping to improve the safety, reliability, and environmental performance of the refinery and creating new opportunities to reduce operating costs.

Commonly used in petroleum processing, hydrofluoric acid is a highly toxic catalyst that must be carefully managed and controlled. Accurately analyzing how much HF is re-circulating within the process contributes significantly to increasing the efficiency of the refinery because it can improve crude stock yield and associated costs. Early approaches to HF monitoring involved taking manual samples and analyzing them in a laboratory. However, this approach, even when carefully executed, potentially exposed lab workers to severe toxins, and its accuracy was limited. While more recent techniques can produce more accurate readings, their adaptation for real-time online monitoring is typically complex and costly.

Invensys Operations Management contends its advanced measurement solution brings new levels of simplicity, cost effectiveness, and employee safety to that task. By using real-time online sensors instead of people, it significantly reduces the possibility of accidental exposure, thereby diminishing the risk to employees and curtailing the potential for environmental hazards.

“An integral component of our InFusion Enterprise Control System, our HF alkylation measurement solution can openly communicate with a larger refinery- and enterprise-wide control, information, and decision-support system to provide real-time data and analysis,” said Maxie Williams, vice president and enterprise client executive, Invensys Operations Management. “And because it is built from rugged materials long proven in industrial HF applications, implementing it costs about half that of other systems and requires little maintenance, with estimated mean time between failures exceeding 29 years. It is a perfect example of how we are combining advanced control and instrumentation to improve and optimize the real-time safety and performance of the operation.”

Edited by Peter Welander,

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