Standardization News

Testing to the Next Level

By: 
Petrolab, a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Grabner

Grabner Instruments, Austria (and Petrolab Co., USA), a subsidiary of AMETEK Inc., is known as one of the most innovative companies worldwide in developing and manufacturing automatic petroleum-testing equipment. Success is based on the development of fully automated fuel and oil analyzers for quality control in the laboratory as well as fast, on-site tests in mobile laboratories. Our range of products includes flashpoint testers, vapor pressure testers, fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) fuel analyzers, oil and grease analyzers, and distillation devices. Instruments such as the on-line RVP analyzer (VPSO) are used during gasoline blending operations.

ASTM International’s committee on petroleum products, liquid fuels, and lubricants (D02) focuses on developing test methods and product specifications that help ensure safety and quality. The relationship between Grabner Instruments and ASTM committees has existed for decades. Seven active members around the world from our firm serve on D02 subcommittees, helping to ensure that the petroleum industry’s need for continuous testing is met. 

History

In 1927, a German chemist developed a method for vapor pressure determination of gasoline. In 1930, ASTM published the procedure for vapor pressure of gasoline, crude oil, and other volatile petroleum products (now the test method for vapor pressure of petroleum products, Reid method, D323). It is, by design, a measurement against barometric pressure, as the vapor chamber is rinsed with warm water to assure 100% humidity. 

Table 1: Automated Vapor Measure Methods

Werner Grabner, Ph.D., created Grabner Instruments over 30 years ago. His primary goal was to review the traditional D323 method and work directly with ASTM on an improved methodology, which later became the “mini methods” for vapor pressure testing. The D323 standard was perfect for its time, but as the industry evolved, it was time to update the procedure. 

Crude oil measurements are not very precise or reproducible, as high volatiles are easily lost due to sample handling. As such, the operator has an influence on the measurement results. For example, a technician must heat the bath to 100ºF (37.8ºC), wait for cooling, and then take out the cylinders, shake them, and record the results with a gauge reading. Grabner promoted a new way to calculate the contribution of Pgas (dissolved gas in the liquid) to the total pressure, Ptot. 

Present and Future

In Table 1, there are ASTM International standards used by Grabner Instruments and related to Grabner’s automated methods.

The methods are important, as is vapor pressure instrumentation maintenance. Grabner Instruments provides training programs for companies and individuals as well as yearly workshop classes. The technical service and support laboratories offer calibration, maintenance, and software upgrade services for instruments.

Grabner Instruments’ vapor-pressure testers have evolved throughout the years to align with ASTM International requirements, and this is reflected in the portable MINIVAP VP VISION. This analyzer allows one instrument to measure gasoline, jet fuel, crude oil, LPG, and solvents (without needing to attach a pressure regulator). It is certified to work in cold as well as hot and damp climates and is designed for use in mobile laboratories, military applications, and harsh, demanding environments. 

Making a Difference

ASTM International has always been a leader in creating and documenting processes and has been a resource for other organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resource Board (CARB). The work that Grabner Instruments contributes to the development of ASTM International standards makes a difference in improving product quality and safety while protecting our world. 

Company Snapshot

  • Grabner Instruments, Vienna, Austria
  • Petrolab Co., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA
  • Manufacturer of instruments for petrochemical analysis
  • Number of staff: 15 in the UnitedcStates; 45 in the rest of the world
  • Number of staff who are members: Grabner Instruments: 3; Petrolab Company: 4

Industry Sectors:

Issue Month: 
November/December
Issue Year: 
2020