New ASTM Standard will help determine presence of metal in fuels

A new ASTM International standard will be used to test for specific metals in crude oils. ASTM’s petroleum products, liquid fuels, and lubricants committee (D02) developed the new standard.
The new standard (soon to be published as D8322) describes a test method using microwave plasma atomic emission spectrometry (MP-AES) to determine the presence of nickel, vanadium, iron, and other elements in crude oil and other heavy fuels.
“These metals are normally contained in crude oil, but may contribute to downstream refinery processing issues,” says ASTM International member George Gonzalez. “The standard will be specifically useful for 700 global refineries and contract laboratories that will use it to test crude oil samples on a daily basis.”
According to Gonzalez, the new standard will benefit industry by providing a safer means of elemental analysis because it does not require acetylene nor expensive argon for operation. In addition, the sample procedure does not require crude oil acid digestion or ashing sample preparation prior to introduction into the MP-AES. Digestion is a sample preparation technique used to decompose the sample using acid. Ashing is a sample preparation technique used to decompose the crude oil sample using a Bunsen burner which reduces the sample to carbon and elemental content. Both digestion and ashing require a significant amount of time to complete and are intrinsically hazardous procedures.
“This new technology has been accepted by the industry and there is a strong demand for a standardised test for this technique.,” says Gonzalez.