Measurement Integrity for Improved Mass Balance

Based on physics and chemistry’s conservation of mass law, mass can be neither created nor destroyed. Mass balance is:

The mass that enters a system must, by conservation of mass, either leave the system or accumulate within the system.

I offer this as background for my communications with Emerson’s Martin McDonough, who shared with me its use in chemical plant losses and production accounting. The gain or loss is determined by the open inventory plus receipts minus shipments, closing inventory, and fuel consumed. This gain or loss can be accountable or unaccountable. Production accounting is the mass balance plus data reconciliation.

Mass balance for production accounting

Accuracy in mass balance calculations affects profitability, health/safety/environment, and process optimization. Accuracy in the measurements means not overpaying or getting underpaid on feedstocks and correctly paying on the custody transfer of produced productions. The measurements enable accurate emissions and energy intensity index (EII) reporting. In process optimization, they help to pinpoint losses earlier, minimize unaccounted losses, and provide regulatory and advanced control strategies to optimize production performance.

Essential measurements for effective production accounting include mass flow for custody transfer measurements for feedstocks and final products, density measurements to improve the accuracy of volumetric measurements, tank gauging for accurate level measurements, and pressure relief monitoring for identification and correction in relief events.

Here is a view of some measurements that can improve your operational performance.

Overall plant mass balance

Some of the Emerson measurement devices that can help provide reliable and accurate data from key material streams include:

For more on ways to improve overall mass balance with improved measurement integrity visit the Solutions to Optimize Your Chemical Plant Performance page on and download the Mass Balance document. You can also speak directly with Martin by arranging a time here.

Speak with Martin McDonough

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