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A refinery in the Midwestern United States was experiencing an increased frequency of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) alarms when employees loaded asphalt onto trucks and railcars. The alarm frequency had exceeded 30 per quarter and was a high profile safety issue for refinery management. Options were considered and it was determined that a chemical treatment solution was the most practical and cost-effective method. Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), was brought in to investigate the issue and recommend a suitable chemical treatment program.

Field testing confirmed that the H2S concentration in the vapor-space of the asphalt was approximately 3,000 parts per million, far above safe operating levels. BHGE recommended treating the asphalt upstream of the loading area with a SULFIX™ H2S scavenger program. This application location allowed enough time and mixing to remove over 90% of the H2S from the asphalt, lowering employee exposure. In some cases, the removal of H2S exceeded 99%. An ongoing optimization and monitoring program has maintained this level as changes occur in processing conditions and asphalt quality.

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Challenges & Results
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Challenges

  • Employee H2S monitors were sounding off 30-40 times per quarter
  • High profile safety issue for refinery management
  • Exposure occurred during loading of asphalt onto trucks and railcars
  • Alternative solutions to chemical treatment were costly and impractical

Results

  • Greatly reduced frequency of H2S alarms