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Lab Methods

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Atmospheric Distillation

  • Method ASTM D86
  • Repeatability variable, see method
  • Reproducibility variable, see method
  • Blending non-linear
  • Additive Correction Yes

Crude oil is made up of hundreds of compounds which all boil at different temperatures. The lighter the product the lower the boiling point while the inverse is true for heavier products. We split the crude oil into different fractions using these boiling points by use of a distillation column. The purpose of this test is to atmospherically distill gasoline, kerosene, and diesel products.

In a laboratory environment 100mls is poured into a distillation flask which is then placed on the unit with a matching receiver. This is then heated until the product first boils. At this point the product turns from a liquid to a gas and passes by the thermometer. The gas will then travel down a condenser tube that will covert it back into a liquid. This liquid will travel further down into a volumetric receive where it is collected. The temperature will be recorded according to the volume in the receiver.

IBP (Initial boiling point) – This is the temperature at with the first drop out of the condenser hits the receiver. It is important in determining if there are any light end contaminations in products such as diesel. If the IBP of the diesel stream is usually 345°F but the distillation gives a result of 150°F. This may indicate contamination issue with gasoline or another lighter product.

EP (End Point) – This is the highest temperature reached on the thermometer when no more product exits the condenser and enters the receiver. It is also useful for identifying contamination in the fractions. For example: a gasoline normally has an endpoint of 400-430°F. If this endpoint reaches 450°F+ there could be diesel or heavier contamination contained in the product.

1%-99% - The rest of the distillation range besides the IBP and EP is used to characterize the product. It will give an idea of how the product will react in its varying uses from automotive fuel to heating oil.

Recovery - The total amount of product that has been recovered after the distillation process. Residue – This is the heavy material that is left over that did not boil over during the distillation. If the residue is excessive it can cause major issues when being used in automotive purposes.