“THE cost per litre of the liquid gold supplied by South Africa’s petroleum industry has reached unprecedented levels, necessitating stringent measures to ensure that vapour loss caused by evaporation and product transfer is kept to a minimum,” says Phil Dawson, a director of Soliflo, liquid control and tanker loading company.
“No price tag can be attached to the sustainable, long-term well-being of the environment which, undoubtedly, is being disastrously affected by the harmful vapours emitted during the fuel transfer process.”
From an environmental perspective, these vapours, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are considered atmospheric pollutants. Dubbed ‘greenhouse gases’, they contribute towards global warming. “Toxic and carcinogenic, VOCs are also responsible for causing an increasing number of often life-threatening health problems for ourselves,” he adds.
While environmental health is unquestionably a top-of-mind priority, petroleum products are the lifeblood of the global economy and diminishing resources and ever-escalating costs make their conservation as critical to 21st century survival.
The storage, handling and transportation of petro-chemical products to end-users presents significant challenges and Dawson urges responsible players in this sector to implement an emission control and management strategy to ensure the reduction of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs.)
In March 2010, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (39.2004) published a list of activities subject to legislative control and the ruling pertaining to the petroleum industry is clearly outlined, particularly with respect to the storage and handling of products with a vapour pressure in excess of 14kPa , all grades of petrol. Any facility with a cumulative petrol storage capacity in excess of 500m³ or throughput of 5,000m³ per annum – facilities, which handle virtually all the petroleum in South Africa - must be compliant with the legislation.
According to Dawson, the installation of vapour recovery and vapour combustion units can go a long way towards being legal and going green. “The installation of vapour recovery units (VRUs) will up an operation’s bottom line and have the added benefit of reducing the release of environmentally hazardous hydrocarbon emissions into the atmosphere.
“The most reliable and efficient VRUs are carbon bed units with Jordan Technologies’ carbon bed VRU proven to recover in excess of 99% of VOCs generated during product loading. The most cost-effective VRU on the market today, users can expect return on investment within 12 months.”
Jordan has carbon bed VRU terminals and installations at refineries and petrol tanker loading facilities around the world. Established in 1980, the company has established itself as a leader in providing vapour recovery solutions to the petroleum and allied industries worldwide and has carbon bed VRU terminals and installations at refineries and petrol tanker loading facilities around the world.
Vapour recovery at retail level
Jordan has also developed miniaturized VRUs for use in the petrol retail sector where recovered vapour equals more product equals increased profit.
“Worldwide, petrol has become a very costly commodity so from a service station’s perspective, a VRU able to recover VOCs resulting from evaporative loss and product transfer and then return them to the fuel storage tank for re-sale, is great news,” says Dawson.
“The installation of VRUs at petrol stations to ensure that vapour loss caused by evaporation during the fuel transfer process is kept to a minimum not only makes sound business sense but ‘eco’ sense as well and, legislation aside, it should be voluntary on the part of owners and operators.”