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Analyzing Scaling, Corrosion, and Sludge in the Oil & Gas Supply Chain with Portable XRD

Published on 21st December 2021

Analyzing Scaling, Corrosion, and Sludge in the Oil & Gas Supply Chain with Portable XRD

XRD for Scaling, Corrosion, and Sludge Analysis

Olympus portable X-ray diffraction (XRD) instruments provide chemists and engineers with quantitative phase analysis of scaling, corrosion, and sludge deposits onsite. Rapid characterization of scaling and corrosion products enables maintenance teams to implement the most appropriate management strategy in hours—not days. This minimizes shutdowns and can help prevent undue damage to equipment.

Scaling in Oil and Gas Assets

Scaling and corrosion affect equipment throughout the oil and gas subply chain, from exploration and extraction to pipelines and refineries. Knowing the composition of the scaling and corrosion products enables maintenance teams to apply the most appropriate anti-scaling treatment or corrosion additive immediately. For example, hydrochloric acid is often used to remove calcium carbonate scaling, while calcium sulfate scaling may be removed using chelanting agents such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).

In the past, maintenance teams would have to send samples off site for laboratory analysis, typically taking days or weeks, or would have to experiment with expensive chemical treatments (which may risk harming the equipment). However, the number of scaling and corrosion products commonly encountered within oil and gas assets is typically limited, making XRD a fast, efficient inspection option.

Some common scaling and corrosion products that can be identified using portable XRD.

Sludge Deposits

Sludge deposits are often encountered in refineries and are a combination of the following:

  • Hydrocarbon (e.g. lubricant and grease)
  • Liquid (e.g. water and oil)
  • Nonhydrocarbon or inorganic substances (e.g. scaling and corrosion)

Using XRD to understand the inorganic component of the sludge can assist the removal process and contribute to preventing reoccurrence. Dichloromethane can be used to separate the inorganic components (scaling and corrosion) from the sludge, enabling a more detailed characterization of scaling and corrosion products (by removing amorphous phases).

Benefits of Olympus Portable XRD Instruments

Olympus portable XRD instruments only require as little as 15 mg of corrosion/scaling products. Results are obtained in minutes and provide maintenance teams, engineers, and production chemists with the knowledge needed to select the most appropriate anti-scaling treatment or corrosion management strategy.

Benefits of TERRA® Analyzers

  • Small Sample: Requires only 15 mg of sample
  • Easy Sample Preparation: Does not require a skilled technician
  • Fast Acquisition Time: Obtain results in only a few minutes
  • Stand-Alone Instrument: No need for water cooling or a large, external power source
  • No Ongoing Servicing Requirements: XRD can be performed regularly with minimal downtime
  • Portability: Battery-operated, rugged design with no moving parts

Current Practice

Send Samples for Laboratory Analysis:

  • 2 to 3 week turnaround

Try Different Chemical Treatment Methods:

  • Using an incorrect chemical treatment may damage equipment
  • Associated costs in applying the incorrect chemical treatment
  • Solution in days, rather than hours

Portable XRD Solution

Send Samples for Laboratory Analysis:

  • Correctly identify the scaling/corrosion products, rapidly, on site
  • Select the correct treatment strategy, the first time, significantly reducing downtime

Products used for this application

TERRA™ II Portable XRD Analyzer

The TERRA™ II XRD analyzer provides portable quantitative mineralogy. Featuring a battery life up to six hours and a rugged, weatherproof case, the system is built for fast in-field analysis of major and minor components.

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