GreenHunter Biofuels selects Cognis system

By Anna Austin | July 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 6, 2008 at 11:05 a.m. CST

GreenHunter Biofuels Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of GreenHunter Energy Inc., has selected Cognis Corp.'s QTA System to allow plant operators to conduct biodiesel quality tests in a control room rather than having a chemist conduct such tests in a separate lab.

GreenHunter's refinery, located along the Houston Texas Ship Channel, is a 105 MMgy biodiesel refinery with approximately 700,000 barrels of bulk storage capacity.

Kerry Staller, a corporate engineer at GreenHunter, said the company chose the Cognis QTA system because it's fairly accurate and well within the capabilities of the typical chemical operator to do the analysis themselves. "We do not have a fully staffed quality control lab," he said. "When we are fully staffed, there will be one quality control manager to handle procedures and maintain instrument calibrations, but by and large, all of the analyses are done by the chemical operators. Our control lab and control consoles are in the same room, and the expectation is that the operators will run their own tests and adjust their processes accordingly."

Staller said the Cognis QTA system is ideally suited for such an environment. "The analysis takes no more than two minutes, requires minimal sample preparation and gives trustworthy and repeatable results," he said, adding that since the device requires no lab supplies other than household isopropanol for cleaning, it doesn't require hazardous waste disposal or chemical inventory maintenance.

The Cognis biodiesel analysis begins by digitizing the light spectra of a biodiesel sample using infrared technology. The spectra are then sent via the internet, to Cognis' central database where algorithms convert the spectra into highly accurate standard quality measurements that are viewed online by plant personnel.

"With this type of analysis and control philosophy, operators get very rapid feedback on how their operations are proceeding and can make the necessary adjustments quickly, rather than waiting for a conventional lab to give them results," Staller said. "We can push our operations to control points which are more economical, and not settle for where operations are 'comfortable'." Staller also said by using this system, GreenHunter Energy can get early warnings that some systems may not be performing as expected, allowing early accommodations to avert off-spec production or downtime.
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