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0 Gasoline
Dr. George Georgiadis

15 Product Blending

Increased operating exibility and profits

result when refinery operations produce
basic intermediate streams that can be
blended to produce a variety of onspecification finished products

The objective of product blending is to allocate the

available blending components in such a way as to meet
product demands and specifications at the least cost and
to produce incremental products which max imize overall
The volumes of products sold, even by a medium sized
refiner, are so large that savings of a fraction of a cent
per gallon will produce a substantial increase in profit
over the period of one year.

For example, if a refiner sells about one

billion gallons of gasoline per year (about
65,000 BPCD; several refiners sell more
than that in the United States), a saving of
one of one hundredth of a cent per gallon
results in an additional profit of $100,000
per year.

Today most refineries use computer controlled in line

blending for blending gasolines and other high volume
Inventories of blending stocks, together with cost and
physical property data are maintained in the computer.
When a certain volume of a given quality product is
specified, the computer uses linear programming models
to optimize the blending operations to select the blending
components to produce the required volume of the
specified product at the lowest cost.

To ensure that the blended streams meet

the desired specifications, stream
analyzers, measuring, for example, boiling
point, specific gravity, RVP, and research
and motor octane, are installed to provide
feedback control of additives and blending

Blending components to meet all critical

specifications most economically is a trial and
error procedure which is easy to handle with the
use of a computer.
The large number of variables makes it probable
there will be a number of equivalent solutions
that give the approximate equivalent total overall
cost or profit.

Optimization programs permit the computer to

provide the optimum blend to minimize cost and
maximize profit.
Both linear and geometric programming
techniques are used.
Geometric programming is preferred if sufficient
data are available to define the equations
because components blend nonlinearly and
values are functions of the quantities of the
components and their characteristics.

The same basic techniques are used for

calculating the blending components for
any of the blended refinery products.
Gasoline is the largest volume refinery
product and will be used as an example to
help clarify the procedures.

For purposes of preliminary cost evaluation studies,

calculations generally are not made on the percent
distilled specifications at intermediate percentages, even
though these are important with respect to such
operating characteristics as warm up, acceleration, and
The allowable blending stocks are those with boiling
ranges within the product specifications [e.g., C4380F(C4-193C)] and the control criteria are to meet
Reid vapor pressure (RVP) and octane requirements.

Reid Vapor Pressure

The desired RVP of a gasoline is obtained by

blending n-butane with C5-380F (C5-193C)
The amount of n-butane required to give the
needed RVP is calculated by:

Blending property data for many

refinery streams

The theoretical method for blending to the

desired Reid vapor pressure requires that
the average molecular weight of each of
the streams be known.

Octane Blending

Octane numbers are blended on a volumetric basis

using the blending octane numbers of the components.
True octane numbers do not blend linearly and it is
necessary to use blending octane numbers in making
Blending octane numbers are based upon experience
and are those numbers which, when added on a
volumetric average basis, will give the true octane of the
True octane is defined as the octane number obtained
using a CFR test engine.

The formula used for calculations is:

Blending For Other Properties

There are several methods of estimating the

physical properties of a blend from the
properties of the blending stocks.
One of the most convenient methods of
estimating properties that do not blend linearly is
to substitute for the value of the inspection to be
blended another value which has the property of
blending approximately linear.
Such values are called blending factors or
blending index numbers.

Blending Values of Octane

Blending octane




(R + M)/2











tert-Butanol (TBA)


















10,00 13,000

Gasoline and Driving

Gasoline is a mixture of hundreds of
hydrocarbons, many of which have
different boiling points.
Thus gasoline boils or distills over a range
of temperatures, unlike a pure compound
water, for instance, that boils at a single

A gasolines distillation profile or distillation

curve is the set of increasing temperatures
at which it evaporates for a fixed series of
increasing volume percentages 5, 10,
20, 30 percent, etc.
Various ranges of a distillation profile have
been correlated with specific aspects of
gasoline performance.

Front-end volatility is adjusted to

easy cold starting
easy hot starting
freedom from vapor lock
low evaporation and running-loss

Midrange volatility is adjusted to

rapid warm-up and smooth running
good power and acceleration
good short-trip fuel economy
protection against carburetor icing and hot

Midrange volatility is adjusted to


rapid warm-up and smooth running good

power and acceleration good short-trip
fuel economy protection against
carburetor icing and hot stalling

Tail-end volatility is adjusted to

good fuel economy after engine warmupminimal fuel dilution of crankcase
oilfreedom from engine depositsminimal
VOC exhaust emissions

Vapor-Liquid Ratio

The vapor locking tendency of a gasoline is influenced

both by the temperatures at the front end of its distillation
profile and by its vapor pressure.
But the property that correlates best with vapor lock and
other hot-fuel handling problems (hard starting and no
starting after a hot soak and poor throttle response) is
the temperature at which the gasoline forms a vaporliquid ratio of 20 (V/L = 20) the temperature at which it
exists as 20 volumes of vapor in equilibrium with one
volume of liquid at atmospheric pressure.

The temperature for a V/L = 20 varies with the season;

the normal range is 35C (95F) to 60C (140F).
Higher values provide greater protection against vapor
lock and hot-fuel handling problems.
This correlation was developed for vehicles with suctiontype fuel pumps and carburetors.
Tests in later-model fuel-injected cars with pressurized
fuel systems have shown a good correlation for
hydrocarbon-only gasoline.
A downward adjustment to the measured value is
needed to predict the performance of ethanol blends.

Vapor Lock Index

Outside the U.S., Vapor Lock Index (VLI)
is used to control vapor lock and other hotfuel handling problems.
VLI is a calculated index using vapor
pressure in kPa and distillation profile
percent evaporated at 70C (158F) fuel
inspection data as follows:
VLI=10(VP) + 7(E70)

VLI varies with the season.

The normal range is 800 to 1250.
Lower values provide greater protection
against vapor lock and hot-fuel handling

Driveability Index

Although each range of the distillation profile is

important, the gasoline represented by the entire
profile is what the engine must distribute,
vaporize and burn.
To predict cold-start and warm-up driveability, a
driveability index (DI) has been developed using
the temperatures for the evaporated
percentages of 10 percent (T10), 50 percent
(T50) and 90 percent (T90):
DI = 1.5(T10) + 3.0(T50) + (T90)

The DI varies with gasoline grade and season; the

normal range in the U.S. is 375C to 625C derived
(850F to 1300F derived).
In other parts of the world, the range may be narrower
for example, in the Asia Pacific it ranges from 460C to
580C derived (1000F to 1200F derived).
Lower values of DI generally result in better cold-start
and warm-up performance, but once good driveability is
achieved, there is no benefit to further lowering the DI.

The equation was originally developed using

data for conventional gasolines in carbureted
Subsequent testing has shown the equation to
be applicable to later-model fuel-injected
engines for conventional gasolines.
However, for ethanol blends an upward
adjustment is needed for the equation to
correlate with actual vehicle driveability