EPA Minding The Fenceline, Inert Coatings Assure Compliance

November 13 2015 Process Analytical

EPA refinery fenceline VOC monitoring

Fenceline problems can be a pain.  I'm going through one now with my neighbor.  I'm sure we'll resolve the issue and put the problem behind us.  Not so with refiners.  New EPA emission standards for petroleum refiners will require for the first time continual monitoring of refinery perimeters.  Making emissions monitoring at the fenceline potentially a never ending issue for refiners.  The rule will also strengthen monitoring of flares, tanks, pressure relief devices and delayed coker units.

The rule will benefit communities by alerting nearby residents to potential toxic air pollutants such as benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

EPA states:

"When fully implemented, the rule will result in a reduction of 5,200 tons per year of toxic air pollutants, and 50,000 tons per year of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also, as a co-benefit of these final standards, EPA projects that these standards will eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases equivalent to approximately 660,000 tons per year of CO2." 

Read About The EPA Regulaiton

The downside?  Added cost to refiners.  The standard will cost refiners tens of millions of dollars per year in monitoring expense, initial capital expense will be much higher.  EPA states "The action requires continuous monitoring of benzene concentrations at the fenceline of refinery facilities to ensure that refineries appropriately manage toxic emissions. The rule requires corrective action to protect neighboring communities from being exposed to harmful levels of emissions if the established standard level is exceeded. The new fenceline monitors must encircle the facility to detect benzene at very low levels, and the monitoring data will be posted on EPA’s website."

How to save money while meeting the regulation.  

The last thing a refiner needs at this point is a monitoring system that does not capture and measure low levels of VOCs like benzene.  That's why EPA 325 requires thermal desorption tubes be lined with inert coatings when used in fenceline monitoring.  

Failure to alarm nearby communities of a release or to alarm a false positive could lead to potential litigation or penalties.  The best way to assure monitor reliability is to line the sample flowpath with high durability, inert coatings like SilcoNert® 2000 or Dursan®.  Inert coatings prevent lost or distorted chromatographic results.

SilcoNert® (formally Sulfinert®) coated surfaces, on right, virtually eliminate adsorption of VOCs, preventing lost peaks or distortion of chromatographic results. 

Uncoated surface is adsorptive

Uncoated surface adsorbs VOCs causing lost and distorted peaks

Coated surface offers superior resolutionSilcoNert 2000 prevents loss of VOCs

Inlet lines, liners and all flowpath components should be coated for best results.  Note that lower concentrations (sensitivity to low part-per-million or part-per-billion) will amplify adsorption effects.

SilcoNert won't mend fences, but it will help refiners mind the fenceline.

Here are some helpful guidelines for monitoring VOCs. 

Learn More About VOCs And Inert Sampling