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NMR - Speeding wax analysis of petroleum products

How can Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) transform and speed petroleum distillate analysis to more accurately gauge wax levels?

Determining oil flow

Depending on their geographical source, oils vary enormously in their constituent components. One of the most important properties when it comes to crude oil is its wax (paraffin) content. High wax content has a profound – and potentially costly – impact on its viscosity and thus also its propensity to cause blockages in pipelines and equipment which extends to the refinery.

This means that companies must undertake routine wax content analysis to ensure that problematic distillates are identified, enabling the appropriate changes to be made during processing. Traditionally, this would involve classic ‘wet chemistry’ extraction – a costly, hazardous and imprecise method that takes 8-12 hours to complete, requiring 6-8 hours of a skilled operator’s time. Moreover, it results in copious amounts of methylene chloride, hexane and various other chemicals which then need to be disposed of.

Cleaner, safer, cheaper

However, there is another faster, cleaner and more cost-effective way to ascertain the percentage of wax in any given sample. The method is so simple it requires no specific training. Welcome to benchtop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), a fast, direct and user-friendly method for the determination of wax content in petroleum products.

The MQC+ NMR analyser provides an alternative method that is quick and easy to perform, simple to calibrate, and requires minimal sample preparation. As such, it is ideal for routine operation either in a laboratory or production environment, without any requirement for specialist operator training.

Simple and fast

Put simply, we start by heating the oil to melt the wax and homogenize the sample; then extract a small volume, mix with a portion of solvent and reheat to mix thoroughly. The next step is to transfer the sample to a conditioning block at minus 28 degrees and leave for 20 minutes to solidify when it will be ready for NMR analysis. Finally, we perform an NMR scan in seconds and find out exactly how much wax is in the sample.

Now, instead of taking over eight hours, the results from a batch of samples are ready in less than 30 minutes, so the petrochemical lab can process many more samples. It requires far fewer costly chemicals, making it much less expensive, safer and more environmentally friendly. It is also more robust and reproducible than wet chemical methods.

Why MQC+?

NMR is a clean, fast, reliable and user-friendly technique for the analysis of wax content in the petroleum industry. It provides a more effective way of getting the results you need in seconds rather than hours while requiring little training.

If you are working in a petrochemical lab, NMR will cut costs, increase operational efficiency, improve accuracy and make for a safer environment.


To arrange a demo and see how our innovative measurement solutions could improve your operation, get in touch with a member of our expert team.

Category: Technical Article

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