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Production Process Insights

Efficiently Sample Petrochemicals with Automated Solutions

Posted by Nate Leonard on 7/6/20 12:00 PM
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Petrochemical Sampling Solutions

In the petrochemical industry, representative samples of high vapor pressure gases and liquids help operators with process monitoring, quality control, and regulatory compliance. However, operators and the environment can be harmed if exposed to these volatile process fluids and gases during sampling. This makes it important to establish a reliable representative sampling system in your petrochemical plant.

Because each sample collected may pose a significant environmental or health hazard, and operators may take hundreds of samples per year, samples must be taken safely and correctly using the appropriate equipment and containers. For true representative sampling and safety, chemical or petrochemical plants must employ safe and accurate sampling solutions.

Safe Sampling of petrochemicals

Styrene monomer (SM) is an important, yet dangerous, building block for plastics. It’s a clear, oily liquid that evaporates easily and has a flash point of 31° C, which makes it highly flammable. It’s used in the production of a wide variety of polymers and co-polymers, particularly polystyrene, which is found in packaging, toys, recreational equipment, consumer electronics and safety helmets.

Propylene oxide (PO) is a colorless volatile liquid that’s also used in the production of plastics - particularly polyether polyols. Polyurethane is often used in flexible foams for the furniture and automotive industries, and rigid foams for appliance and building-insulation. Polyols also help produce coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers, thermoplastic resins and fibers.

Sampling SM and PO is critical to ensuring the production of high-quality components that make up items we use in everyday life. Safe sampling of these volatile compounds must provide the greatest amount of protection for both operators and the environment, with no spillage and minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature.

Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate from the compound and enter the surrounding air. Safe sampling solutions prevents VOCs and other chemicals from entering the atmosphere, while isolating the sample from the environment and operator.


A manufacturer and distributor of chemical products in China needed to sample 200 thousand metric tons per year of propylene oxide (PO) and 450 thousand metric tons per year of styrene monomer (SM).

The company was challenged with finding a cost-effective sampling system that would improve their profitability. However, both the customer and their engineering company weren’t familiar with automatic sampling solutions, leaving them unsure of what sampling system would deliver the performance they wanted at the price and protection they needed.


With increased financial pressure on the oil and gas industries, automatic sampling enables the end user to operate in a measurably “lean” fashion. From an efficiency standpoint, technicians don’t have to repeatedly take samples from various points in an installation. With less interaction between the technician and the sampled material, automatic samplers helped this customer meet these requirements while ensuring greater safety for the worker and more efficient labor utilization.

By providing representative samples of liquids and slurries, automatic samplers are ideal for chemical process sampling and petrochemicals. In addition, the sampler seal design isolates the operator from the process at all times, with the sample captured in the container and “locked out” from external influences.

By utilizing safe sampling practices, companies are not only protecting operators and environment from hazardous VOCs, but also ensuring that a consistent and quality product is developed every time.

Learn more about our sampling solutions for the petrochemical industry here.

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Topics: Downstream, Liquid & Slurry, Gas

Written by Nate Leonard

Picture of Nate Leonard
Director of Sales - APAC/South America