I have to start by saying that I am biased toward simple fixed filter infrared analyzers when it comes to needing the same measurement over and over again. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Raman infrared spectrometers are the Cadillacs’ of infrared analysis and do offer much more than a simple repetitive measurement. The downside is they are expensive and more complicated when it comes to repairs and operation. They offer more bells and whistles that could have the potential to be messed with or messed up. In other words, for many repetitive analyses, they provide much more capability and features than are actually necessary or required.
If reliability, low cost and the ability for a non-technical operator to make an on-site measurement is what really matters, fixed filter infrared analyzers (with no moving parts) are a much more appropriate choice.
This is the case when measuring the percent biodiesel or ethanol in fuel or when doing oil in water measurements for environmental requirements.
The biodiesel or ethanol measurement is usually needed in places where expensive, complicated instruments are not a good fit. Typical places are: a loading rack at a fuel terminal to check that the trucks have the correct blend, in a freight receiving area to verify the blend before off-loading or at a fuel station gas pump to make sure the blend is as labeled. Petroleum companies use simplified fixed filter infrared analyzers, the InfraCal Biodiesel blend Analyzer and the InfraCal Ethanol Blend Analyzer, for on-site testing at their blending facilities. Several state Weights and Measures agencies — the folks who make sure that the fuel coming out of the pump is as labeled — operate the analyzers from their trucks at the fuel station.
The biofuels blend analysis merely requires the operator to put a sample on the analyzer, press a run button and wait about 10 seconds for the result to be displayed. The sample is cleaned off and instrument is ready for the next sample. Check out these short videos showing the procedure.
Another application where a simple rugged analyzer is a must is in the petroleum industry for the measurement of oil in water. Any water pumped overboard an offshore oil rig has to be below a regulated level. The combination of heavy machinery, salt air and limited access to onshore resources requires any piece of equipment in that environment to be rugged and reliable. Add to this the limited manpower on an oil platform. Operators, therefore, have to perform many functions during the day and they are not necessarily lab technicians–making ease of use another essential requirement. Once again, another fixed filter infrared analyzer, the InfraCal TOG/TPH Analyzer for measuring oil in water, has found a niche with over 2500 currently in use worldwide (more videos for oil in water analysis).
Do you have a routine analysis where it would be nice to have a simple instrument to do the measurement? If so, let us know–maybe we can help you.