Title:
BLENDING FACILITY SET-UP AND OPERATION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A continuous blending system can be used to prepare burner fuel or blasting agent, and includes a mixer, a first hydrocarbon system, a second hydrocarbon mixer, and a computing system. The mixer is configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of a first hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of second hydrocarbon to provide a mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and a predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. The first hydrocarbon system provides a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon into the mixer. The second hydrocarbon system provides a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon system into the mixer. The computing system is in communication with and configured for simultaneously controlling the first and second hydrocarbon systems in order to obtain the mixed hydrocarbon at the predefined flow rate and at the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon.



Inventors:
Doerr, Kevin (Elko, NV, US)
Snyder, Doug (Elko, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/626311
Publication Date:
08/02/2007
Filing Date:
01/23/2007
Assignee:
DOERRSCHNIEDER LLC (Elko, NV, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
208/370
International Classes:
E03B1/00
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Primary Examiner:
HEPPERLE, STEPHEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Workman Nydegger (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A continuous blending system for use in preparing burner fuel on location, the system comprising: a mixer configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of a first hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of second hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having a predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon; a first hydrocarbon system in fluid communication with the mixer, the first hydrocarbon system being configured for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio, the first hydrocarbon system comprising: a first pump; a first flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the first pump; and a first valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the first flow meter, the first valve being configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer; a second hydrocarbon system in fluid communication with the mixer, the second hydrocarbon system being configured for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio, the second hydrocarbon system comprising: a second pump; a second flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the second pump; and a second valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the second flow meter, the second valve being configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer; and a computing system in communication with and configured for simultaneously controlling the first and second hydrocarbon systems in order to obtain the mixed hydrocarbon at the predefined flow rate and at the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon.

2. A system as in claim 1, further comprising: a first hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the first pump; a first feed back loop comprising: a first feedback inlet between the first flow meter and first valve; and a first feedback outlet between the first hydrocarbon inlet and the first pump; a second hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the second pump; and a second feed back loop comprising: a second feedback inlet between the second flow meter and second valve; and a second feedback outlet between the second hydrocarbon inlet and the second pump.

3. A system as in claim 2, further comprising: the first pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the first pump; the first flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing first hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the first pump; a first valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive first valve control data to open or close the first valve, the first valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer; the second pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the second pump; the second flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing second hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the second pump; a second valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive second valve control data to open or close the second valve, the second valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer.

4. A system as in claim 3, further comprising at least one of the following: a first safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the first pump and upstream from the mixer, the first safety solenoid valve being closed unless opened by the computing system; or a second safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the second pump and upstream from the mixer, the second safety solenoid valve being closed unless opened by the computing system.

5. A system as in claim 4, further comprising at least one of the following: a first strainer disposed upstream from the first pump, the first strainer being configured to strain the first hydrocarbon; or a second strainer disposed upstream from the second pump, the second strainer being configured to strain the second hydrocarbon.

6. A system as in claim 5, further comprising: used oil as the first hydrocarbon and being disposed within the first hydrocarbon system; and diesel fuel as the second hydrocarbon and being disposed within the second hydrocarbon system.

7. A system as in claim 3, wherein the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system, wherein operation of the continuous blending system comprises: a startup mode for calibrating the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon and the second hydrocarbon, the startup mode comprising: operating the first pump with the first valve closed so that the first hydrocarbon flows through the first feedback loop; measuring the first hydrocarbon flow rate with the first flow meter; regulating the first pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; operating the second pump with the second valve closed so that the second hydrocarbon flows through the second feedback loop; measuring the second hydrocarbon flow rate with the second flow meter; and regulating the second pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon.

8. A system as in claim 7, wherein the startup mode further comprises: the first flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon to obtain a first plurality of flow rate data per gallon; the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon in response to the first plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the first pump; the second flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon to obtain a second plurality of flow rate data per gallon; and the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon in response to the second plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the second pump.

9. A system as in claim 3, wherein the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system, wherein operation of the continuous blending system comprises: a steady-state mode for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon, the steady-state mode comprising: regulating the first pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; opening the first valve so as to supply a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; regulating the second pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon; and opening the second valve so as to supply a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon.

10. A system as in claim 3, wherein the computing system is configured to automatically stop the continuous blending system from dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon by at least one of the following: a stop command being input into the computing system; a predefined time limit expiring for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon; a predefined amount of mixed hydrocarbon being dispensed from the mixer; at least one of the first or second hydrocarbon having a flow rate that does not achieve the predefined ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon; and the ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon being a ratio other then the predefined ratio.

11. A continuous blending system for use in preparing burner fuel on location, the system comprising: a computing system configured for controlling components of the continuous blending system, the computing system having a user input interface and a user output interface to provide system operation information to the user; a mixer configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of spent hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of fresh hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon having a predefined ratio of spent hydrocarbon and fresh hydrocarbon, the predefined ratio being input into the computing system by the user; a spent hydrocarbon system in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio, the spent hydrocarbon system comprising: a spent hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump, the spent hydrocarbon flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing spent hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; and a spent hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon flow meter, the spent hydrocarbon valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive spent hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the spent hydrocarbon valve, the spent hydrocarbon valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer; and a fresh hydrocarbon system in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio, the fresh hydrocarbon system comprising: a fresh hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump, the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing fresh hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; and a fresh hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter, the fresh hydrocarbon valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive fresh hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the fresh hydrocarbon valve, the fresh hydrocarbon valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer.

12. A system as in claim 11, further comprising: a spent hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon first feed back loop comprising: a spent hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the spent hydrocarbon flow meter and spent hydrocarbon valve; and a spent hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the spent hydrocarbon inlet and the spent hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; and a fresh hydrocarbon feed back loop comprising: a fresh hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter and fresh hydrocarbon valve; and a fresh hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the fresh hydrocarbon inlet and the fresh hydrocarbon pump.

13. A system as in claim 12, further comprising at least one of the following: a spent hydrocarbon safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump and upstream from the mixer, the spent hydrocarbon safety solenoid valve being closed unless opened by the computing system; or a fresh hydrocarbon safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump and upstream from the mixer, the fresh hydrocarbon safety solenoid valve being closed unless opened by the computing system.

14. A system as in claim 13, further comprising at least one of the following: a spent hydrocarbon strainer disposed upstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump, the spent hydrocarbon strainer being configured to strain the spent hydrocarbon; or a fresh hydrocarbon strainer disposed upstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump, the fresh hydrocarbon strainer being configured to strain the fresh hydrocarbon.

15. A system as in claim 14, further comprising: used oil as the spent hydrocarbon and being disposed within the spent hydrocarbon system; and diesel fuel as the fresh hydrocarbon and being disposed within the fresh hydrocarbon system.

16. A system as in claim 12, wherein the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system, wherein operation of the continuous blending system comprises: a startup mode for calibrating the flow rate of the spent hydrocarbon and the fresh hydrocarbon, the startup mode comprising: operating the spent hydrocarbon pump with the spent hydrocarbon valve closed so that the spent hydrocarbon flows through the spent hydrocarbon feedback loop; measuring the spent hydrocarbon flow rate with the spent hydrocarbon flow meter; regulating the spent hydrocarbon pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the spent hydrocarbon; operating the fresh hydrocarbon pump with the fresh hydrocarbon valve closed so that the fresh hydrocarbon flows through the fresh hydrocarbon feedback loop; measuring the fresh hydrocarbon flow rate with the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter; and regulating the fresh hydrocarbon pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the fresh hydrocarbon.

17. A system as in claim 16, wherein the startup mode further comprises: the spent hydrocarbon flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the spent hydrocarbon to obtain a first plurality of flow rate data per gallon; the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the spent hydrocarbon in response to the first plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the spent hydrocarbon pump; the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the fresh hydrocarbon to obtain a second plurality of flow rate data per gallon; and the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the fresh hydrocarbon in response to the second plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the fresh hydrocarbon pump.

18. A system as in claim 12, wherein the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system, wherein operation of the continuous blending system comprises: a steady-state mode for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having the predefined ratio of spent and fresh hydrocarbon, the steady-state mode comprising: regulating the spent hydrocarbon pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the spent hydrocarbon; opening the spent hydrocarbon valve so as to supply a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the spent hydrocarbon; regulating the fresh hydrocarbon pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the fresh hydrocarbon; and opening the fresh hydrocarbon valve so as to supply a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the fresh hydrocarbon.

19. A system as in claim 12, wherein the computing system is configured to automatically stop the continuous blending system from dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon by at least one of the following: a stop command being input into the computing system; a predefined time limit expiring for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon; a predefined amount of mixed hydrocarbon being dispensed from the mixer; at least one of the spent or fresh hydrocarbon having a flow rate that does not achieve the predefined ratio of the spent and fresh hydrocarbon; and the ratio of the spent and fresh hydrocarbon being a ratio other then the predefined ratio.

20. A continuous blending system for use in preparing burner fuel on location, the system comprising: a computing system configured for controlling components of the continuous blending system, the computing system having a user input interface and a user output interface to provide system operation information to the user; a mixer configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of spent hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of fresh hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon having a predefined ratio of spent hydrocarbon and fresh hydrocarbon, the predefined ratio being input into the computing system by the user; a spent hydrocarbon system in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio, the spent hydrocarbon system comprising: a spent hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump, the spent hydrocarbon flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing spent hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; and a spent hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon flow meter, the spent hydrocarbon valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive spent hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the spent hydrocarbon valve, the spent hydrocarbon valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer; a spent hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon first feed back loop comprising: a spent hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the spent hydrocarbon flow meter and spent hydrocarbon valve; and a spent hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the spent hydrocarbon inlet and the spent hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon system in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio, the fresh hydrocarbon system comprising: a fresh hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump, the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing fresh hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter, the fresh hydrocarbon valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive fresh hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the fresh hydrocarbon valve, the fresh hydrocarbon valve being opened for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer; a fresh hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; and a fresh hydrocarbon feed back loop comprising: a fresh hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter and fresh hydrocarbon valve; and a fresh hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the fresh hydrocarbon inlet and the fresh hydrocarbon pump.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This U.S. Patent Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/764,102, filed Feb. 1, 2006, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. The Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent hydrocarbon compositions with fresh hydrocarbon compositions or different spent hydrocarbon compositions for use as a blasting agent or burner fuel that can be used in preparing explosives. More particularly, the present invention relates to continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent oils, such as motor oil, with hydrocarbon fuels, such as diesel fuel, to produce a liquid blasting agent or burner fuel that can be used to prepare explosives in mining operations. Furthermore, the continuous-flow system can be a mobile, self-contained system that can produce liquid blasting agent or burner fuel on location at mine sites from used or spent oils.

2. The Related Technology

The mining industry has been a significant source of minerals, ores and energy products, such as coal, throughout the development of the United States (U.S.) and other industrialized nations. Previously, discovery of minerals, such as gold and silver, resulted in population shifts and economic growth in the areas the minerals were discovered. Currently, mining minerals, ores, and coal continues to provide the foundation for local economies in some parts of the country. Products of the mining industry are used as raw materials and energy sources for manufacturing consumer goods, processes, and services provided by all other industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, communication, and construction. Specific uses of mined materials include coal for energy, copper for wiring, gold for satellites and sophisticated electronic components, and a variety of other minerals as ingredients in medicines and household products.

Typically, mining involves a significant use of explosives in order to loosen or breakdown the rock and dirt encapsulating the minerals, ores, or coal, and often breakdown the product being mined. Typically, the explosives use blasting agents or burner fuel as a detonator or explosive accelerator. In fact, most of the explosives and blasting agents sold in the U.S. are used in mining. There are two classifications of explosives and blasting agents. Blasting Agents and Oxidizers usually include ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) mixtures that can be prepared at various densities and in different formulations. Often, the blasting agents can be in the form or slurries, water gels, or emulsions. For example, ANFO blends can include a burner fuel that forms slurries, water gels, or emulsions with ammonium nitrate in prilled, grained, or liquor form. The principle distinction between high explosives and blasting agents is their sensitivity to initiation. High explosives are cap sensitive, whereas blasting agents are not.

Previously, blasting agents and/or burning fuels have been prepared in batch mixer or batch processing systems. As such, the different components that are mixed into the burning fuel are introduced into a mixer at the composition ratios of the final product. The mixer then forms a substantially mixed composition that can be used as a burner fuel. However, batch mixing can be problematic in that usually one volume is made per batch, which can cause over production or under production of the burner fuel because there are instances were low quantities or high quantities of burner fuel are needed. As such, batch mixers are not optimally-designed for satisfying the need of varying the quantity of fresh burner fuel for mining operations. Previously, a significant portion of the burner fuel has been diesel fuel and other hydrocarbon fuels or fresh oils. Accordingly, the diesel fuel, other hydrocarbon fuels, and fresh oils have caused burner fuels to be significantly expensive and an economic drain on the mining industry.

Recently, it has been found that spent oils can be useful in preparing blasting agents and burner fuels. In a report entitled, “Thermal Stability of ANFO Made With Recycled Oil,” the Pittsburg Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) studied the use of spent oil in preparing ANFO-type blasting agents. It was found that spent oil, such as recycled or used lubricating oils from mining equipment can be at least a partial replacement for diesel fuel so as to produce burner fuels that conserve energy, reduce oil or fuel imports, and reduce mining costs. The report can be found at the NIOSH website under the like for explosive publications.

Accordingly, it would be advantageous to have continuous-flow systems and methods for processing at least two different hydrocarbon compositions, such as a low-cost hydrocarbon and diesel fuel into a blasting agent or burner fuel. Additionally, it would be advantageous to have continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent hydrocarbon compositions with fresh hydrocarbon compositions or different spent hydrocarbon compositions for use as a blasting agent or burner fuel. Furthermore, it would be advantageous to have continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent oils, such as motor oil, with hydrocarbon fuels, such as diesel fuel, to produce a liquid blasting agent or burner fuel.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Generally, embodiments of the present invention include continuous-flow systems and methods for processing at least two different hydrocarbon compositions, such as a low-cost hydrocarbon and diesel fuel into a blasting agent or burner fuel. Additionally, embodiments of the present invention include continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent hydrocarbon compositions with fresh hydrocarbon compositions or different spent hydrocarbon compositions for use as a blasting agent or burner fuel. Furthermore, embodiments of the present invention can include continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent oils, such as motor oil, with hydrocarbon fuels, such as diesel fuel, to produce a liquid blasting agent or burner fuel.

In one embodiment, the present invention can include a continuous blending system for use in preparing burner fuel or blasting agent on location at a mine site. The continuous blending system can include a mixer, a first hydrocarbon system, a second hydrocarbon mixer, and a computing system. The mixer is configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of a first hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of second hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having a predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon.

The first hydrocarbon system is in fluid communication with the mixer so that the first hydrocarbon can flow from the first hydrocarbon system and into the mixer. More particularly, the first hydrocarbon system is configured for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio for the first and second hydrocarbons. The first hydrocarbon system can include the following components: a first pump; a first flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the first pump; and first valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the first flow meter, wherein the first valve is configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the first hydrocarbon system can include a first hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the first pump. Also, the first hydrocarbon system can include a first feedback loop having a first feedback inlet between the first flow meter and first valve and a first feedback outlet between the first hydrocarbon inlet and the first pump.

The second hydrocarbon system is in fluid communication with the mixer so that the second hydrocarbon can flow from the second hydrocarbon system and into the mixer. More particularly, the second hydrocarbon system is configured for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio for the first and second hydrocarbons. The second hydrocarbon system can include the following: a second pump; a second flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the second pump; and a second valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the second flow meter, wherein the second valve is configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the second hydrocarbon system can include a second hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the second pump. Also, the second hydrocarbon system can include a second feedback loop having a second feedback inlet between the second flow meter and second valve and a first feedback outlet between the second hydrocarbon inlet and the second pump.

The computing system is in communication with and configured for simultaneously controlling the first and second hydrocarbon systems in order to obtain the mixed hydrocarbon at the predefined flow rate and at the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. The computing system can be configured to control the components of the first and second hydrocarbon systems by the following: the first pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the first pump; the first flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing first hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the first pump; the first valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive first valve control data to open or close the first valve, wherein the first valve is opened by the computing system for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer; the second pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the second pump; the second flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing second hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the second pump; the second valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive second valve control data to open or close the second valve, wherein the computing system opens the second valve for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer.

Additionally, the continuous blending system can include any of the following: a first safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the first pump and upstream from the mixer, wherein the first safety solenoid valve is closed unless opened by the computing system; a second safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the second pump and upstream from the mixer, wherein the second safety solenoid valve is closed unless opened by the computing system; a first strainer disposed upstream from the first pump, wherein the first strainer is configured to strain the first hydrocarbon; a second strainer disposed upstream from the second pump, wherein the second strainer is configured to strain the second hydrocarbon; used oil as the first hydrocarbon, which is disposed within the first hydrocarbon system; or diesel fuel as the second hydrocarbon, which is disposed within the second hydrocarbon system.

In one embodiment, the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system. As such, operation of the continuous blending system can include a startup mode for calibrating the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon and the second hydrocarbon. Such a startup mode can include the following: operating the first pump with the first valve closed so that the first hydrocarbon flows through the first feedback loop; measuring the first hydrocarbon flow rate with the first flow meter; regulating the first pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; operating the second pump with the second valve closed so that the second hydrocarbon flows through the second feedback loop; measuring the second hydrocarbon flow rate with the second flow meter; and regulating the second pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon. Optionally, the startup mode can be performed by the mixing system including the following: the first flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon to obtain a first plurality of flow rate data per gallon; the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon in response to the first plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the first pump; the second flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon to obtain a second plurality of flow rate data per gallon; and the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon in response to the second plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the second pump.

In one embodiment, operation of the continuous blending system can include a steady-state mode for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. Such a steady-state mode can include the following: regulating the first pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; opening the first valve so as to supply a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; regulating the second pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon; and opening the second valve so as to supply a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon.

In one embodiment, the continuous blending system can include an automatic stop safety setting in order to stop the continuous blending system from dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon. The automatic stop safety setting can be set to be implemented by at least one of the following: a stop command being input into the computing system; a predefined time limit expiring for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon; a predefined amount of mixed hydrocarbon being dispensed from the mixer; at least one of the first or second hydrocarbon having a flow rate that does not achieve the predefined ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon; and the ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon being a ratio other then the predefined ratio.

In another embodiment, a continuous blending system can include a computing system, mixer, spent hydrocarbon system, and fresh hydrocarbon system. The computing system is configured for controlling components of the continuous blending system. Also, the computing system has a user input interface so that the user can input data into the computing system, and has a user output interface to provide system operation information to the user. The mixer is configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of spent hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of fresh hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon having a predefined ratio of spent hydrocarbon and fresh hydrocarbon. The predefined ratio is input into the computing system by the user.

The spent hydrocarbon system is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio of spent and fresh hydrocarbon. As such, the spent hydrocarbon system can include the following: a spent hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump, wherein the spent hydrocarbon flow meter is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for providing spent hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the spent hydrocarbon pump; and a spent hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon flow meter, wherein the spent hydrocarbon valve is in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive spent hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the spent hydrocarbon valve, and the spent hydrocarbon valve is opened for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the spent hydrocarbon system can include a spent hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the spend hydrocarbon pump. Also, the spent hydrocarbon system can include a spent hydrocarbon feedback loop having a spent hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the spent hydrocarbon flow meter and spent hydrocarbon valve and a spent hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the spent hydrocarbon inlet and the spent hydrocarbon pump. Further, the spent hydrocarbon system can include the features and operations of the first hydrocarbon systems described herein because the first hydrocarbon can be configured for supplying a spent hydrocarbon. Typically, the spent hydrocarbon includes used motor oil.

The fresh hydrocarbon system is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio of spent and fresh hydrocarbon. As such, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include the following: a fresh hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump, wherein the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for providing fresh hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; and a fresh hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter, wherein the fresh hydrocarbon valve is in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive fresh hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the fresh hydrocarbon valve, and the fresh hydrocarbon valve is opened for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include a fresh hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the fresh hydrocarbon pump. Also, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include a fresh hydrocarbon feedback loop having a fresh hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter and fresh hydrocarbon valve and a fresh hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the fresh hydrocarbon inlet and the fresh hydrocarbon pump. Further, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include the features and operations of the second hydrocarbon systems described herein because the second hydrocarbon can be configured for supplying a fresh hydrocarbon. Typically, the fresh hydrocarbon includes diesel fuel.

These and other embodiments and features of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present invention, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a continuous mixing system of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of a continuous mixing system of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Generally, the present invention includes embodiments of continuous-flow systems and methods for processing at least two different hydrocarbon compositions, such as a low-cost hydrocarbon and fuel into a blasting agent or burner fuel. Additionally, the embodiments of the present invention include continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent hydrocarbon compositions with fresh hydrocarbon compositions or different spent hydrocarbon compositions for use as a blasting agent or burner fuel. Further, embodiments of the present invention include continuous-flow systems and methods for processing spent oils, such as motor oil, with hydrocarbon fuels, such as diesel fuel, to produce a liquid blasting agent or burner fuel. Furthermore, an embodiment of the continuous-flow system is a mobile and/or self-contained system that can produce liquid blasting agent or burner fuel on location at mine sites from used or spent oils. As used herein, a “spent” hydrocarbon is meant to identify that the hydrocarbon has been used or is not fresh. As used herein, a “fresh” hydrocarbon is meant to identify that the hydrocarbon is new and has not been used, such as being obtained from a container from the manufacturer.

I. Introduction

In one embodiment, the present invention includes a continuous blending system for use in preparing burner fuel or blasting agent on location at a mine site. That is, rather than operating as a batch mixing process the system operates at a continuous, steady-state manner at which supplies of the reagents continuous fed into the system with the product continuously being created and/or dispensed from the system. The continuous blending system includes a mixer, a first hydrocarbon system, a second hydrocarbon mixer, and a computing system.

The mixer is configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of a first hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of second hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having a predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. The flow rate of the mixed hydrocarbon is the sum of the flow rates of the first and second hydrocarbons supplied by the first and second pumps, respectively. The mixer can be any type of mixer that is configured for mixing streams of hydrocarbon compositions. Examples of the mixer can include a static mixer and the like.

The first hydrocarbon system is in fluid communication with the mixer so that the first hydrocarbon continuously flows from the first hydrocarbon system into the mixer. More particularly, the first hydrocarbon system is configured for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio for the first and second hydrocarbons. An embodiment of the first hydrocarbon system includes the following components: a first pump; a first flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the first pump; and a first valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the first flow meter, wherein the first valve is configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the first hydrocarbon system includes a first hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the first pump. Also, the first hydrocarbon system can include a first feedback loop having a first feedback inlet between the first flow meter and first valve and a first feedback outlet between the first hydrocarbon inlet and the first pump. Optionally, the first feedback inlet can be at the first valve.

The second hydrocarbon system is in fluid communication with the mixer so that the second hydrocarbon continuously flows from the second hydrocarbon system into the mixer. More particularly, the second hydrocarbon system is configured for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio for the first and second hydrocarbons. An embodiment of the second hydrocarbon system includes the following: a second pump; a second flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the second pump; and a second valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the second flow meter, wherein the second valve is configured to open for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the second hydrocarbon system includes a second hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the second pump. Also, the second hydrocarbon system can include a second feedback loop having a second feedback inlet between the second flow meter and second valve and a first feedback outlet between the second hydrocarbon inlet and the second pump. Optionally, the second feedback inlet can be at the second valve.

The computing system is in communication with and configured for simultaneously controlling the first and second hydrocarbon systems in order to obtain the mixed hydrocarbon at the predefined flow rate and at the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. The computing system is configured to control the components of the first and second hydrocarbon systems by the following: the first pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the first pump; the first flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing first hydrocarbon flow rate data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the first pump; the first valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive first valve control data to open or close the first valve, wherein the first valve is opened by the computing system for supplying a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at the output flow rate of the first pump; the second pump being in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the second pump; the second flow meter being in electronic communication with the computing system and being configured for providing second hydrocarbon flow rate data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the second pump; the second valve being in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive second valve control data to open or close the second valve, wherein the computing system opens the second valve for supplying a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer.

One embodiment of a continuous blending system includes a computing system, mixer, spent hydrocarbon system, and fresh hydrocarbon system. The computing system is configured for controlling components of the continuous blending system. Also, the computing system has a user input interface so that the user can input data into the computing system, and has a user output interface to provide system operation information to the user.

The mixer is configured for continuously mixing a continuous supply of spent hydrocarbon and a continuous supply of fresh hydrocarbon in order to provide a mixed hydrocarbon having a predefined ratio of spent hydrocarbon and fresh hydrocarbon. The predefined ratio is input into the computing system by the user.

The spent hydrocarbon system is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio of spent and fresh hydrocarbon. As such, the spent hydrocarbon system includes at least the following: a spent hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the spent hydrocarbon pump; a spent hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon pump, wherein the spent hydrocarbon flow meter is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for providing spent hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the spent hydrocarbon pump; and a spent hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the spent hydrocarbon flow meter, wherein the spent hydrocarbon valve is in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive spent hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the spent hydrocarbon valve, and the spent hydrocarbon valve is opened for supplying a continuous flow of spent hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the spent hydrocarbon system includes a spent hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the spend hydrocarbon pump. Also, the spent hydrocarbon system can include a spent hydrocarbon feedback loop having a spent hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the spent hydrocarbon flow meter and spent hydrocarbon valve and a spent hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the spent hydrocarbon inlet and the spent hydrocarbon pump. Optionally, the spent hydrocarbon feedback inlet is at the spent hydrocarbon valve. Further, the spent hydrocarbon system can include the features and operations of the first hydrocarbon systems described herein because the first hydrocarbon system can be configured for supplying a spent hydrocarbon. Typically, the spent hydrocarbon includes used motor oil.

The fresh hydrocarbon system is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer in an amount to achieve the predefined ratio of spent and fresh hydrocarbon. As such, the fresh hydrocarbon system includes at least the following: a fresh hydrocarbon pump in electronic communication with the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; a fresh hydrocarbon flow meter in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon pump, wherein the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter is in electronic communication with the computing system and is configured for providing fresh hydrocarbon flow data to the computing system so that the computing system can control the output flow rate of the fresh hydrocarbon pump; and a fresh hydrocarbon valve in fluid communication with and downstream from the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter, wherein the fresh hydrocarbon valve is in electronic communication with the computing system and configured to receive fresh hydrocarbon valve control data to open or close the fresh hydrocarbon valve, and the fresh hydrocarbon valve is opened for supplying a continuous flow of fresh hydrocarbon to the mixer. Additionally, the fresh hydrocarbon system includes a fresh hydrocarbon inlet upstream of the fresh hydrocarbon pump. Also, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include a fresh hydrocarbon feedback loop having a fresh hydrocarbon feedback inlet between the fresh hydrocarbon flow meter and fresh hydrocarbon valve and a fresh hydrocarbon feedback outlet between the fresh hydrocarbon inlet and the fresh hydrocarbon pump. Optionally, the fresh hydrocarbon feedback inlet can be at the fresh hydrocarbon valve. Further, the fresh hydrocarbon system can include the features and operations of the second hydrocarbon systems described herein because the second hydrocarbon system can be configured for supplying a fresh hydrocarbon. Typically, the fresh hydrocarbon includes diesel fuel or a mixture of diesel fuel.

Additionally, embodiments of the continuous blending systems described herein can include any of the following: a first safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the first pump and upstream from the mixer, wherein the first safety solenoid valve is closed unless opened by the computing system; a second safety solenoid valve disposed downstream from the second pump and upstream from the mixer, wherein the second safety solenoid valve is closed unless opened by the computing system; a first strainer disposed upstream from the first pump, wherein the first strainer is configured to strain the first hydrocarbon; a second strainer disposed upstream from the second pump, wherein the second strainer is configured to strain the second hydrocarbon; used oil as the first hydrocarbon, which is disposed within the first hydrocarbon system; or diesel fuel as the second hydrocarbon, which is disposed within the second hydrocarbon system. As described herein, first components can be considered to be spent hydrocarbon components, and second components can be considered fresh hydrocarbon components, and vice versa.

In one embodiment, the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system. As such, operation of the continuous blending system can include a startup mode for calibrating the flow rates of the first hydrocarbon and the second hydrocarbon. Such a startup mode can include the following: operating the first pump with the first valve closed so that the first hydrocarbon flows through the first feedback loop; measuring the first hydrocarbon flow rate with the first flow meter; regulating the first pump output flow rate so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; operating the second pump with the second valve closed so that the second hydrocarbon flows through the second feedback loop; measuring the second hydrocarbon flow rate with the second flow meter; and regulating the second pump output flow rate so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon.

Optionally, the startup mode can be performed by the continuous blending system including the following: the first flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon in the first hydrocarbon system to obtain a first plurality of flow rate data per gallon; the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon in the first hydrocarbon system in response to the first plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the first pump; the second flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon in the second hydrocarbon system to obtain a second plurality of flow rate data per gallon; and the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the second hydrocarbon in the second hydrocarbon system in response to the second plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the second pump.

In one embodiment, operation of the continuous blending system can include a steady-state mode for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon at a flow rate and having the predefined ratio of first and second hydrocarbon. Such a steady-state mode can include the following: regulating the first pump output flow rate so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; opening the first valve so as to supply a continuous flow of first hydrocarbon to the mixer at the first pump output flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the first hydrocarbon; regulating the second pump output flow rate so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon; and opening the second valve so as to supply a continuous flow of second hydrocarbon to the mixer at the second pump output flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the second hydrocarbon.

In one embodiment, the continuous blending system can include an automatic stop safety setting in order to stop the continuous blending system from dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon. The automatic stop safety setting can be set to be implemented by at least one of the following: a stop command being input into the computing system; a predefined time limit expiring for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon; a predefined amount of mixed hydrocarbon being dispensed from the mixer; at least one of the first or second hydrocarbon having a flow rate that does not achieve the predefined ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon; and the ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon being a ratio other then the predefined ratio.

II. Continuous Blending System

General embodiments of the continuous blending systems in accordance with the present invention are illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, and such general embodiments are described in more detail blow. The embodiments of the continuous blending systems illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 are exemplary embodiments of the present invention and are not intended to be limiting. Additionally, the different components of the illustrated continuous blending systems are considered to be non-limiting, wherein additional components can be included in the continuous blending systems, and the separate components of the different embodiments of the continuous blending systems can be swapped or exchanged. Further, additional components described herein can be included within the illustrated continuous blending systems in addition to or in place of the illustrated components. Furthermore, various components that can be combined or exchanged as is well known in the art can similarly be combined or exchanged in the embodiments of the continuous blending systems as long as functionality is maintained and not compromised.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a continuous blending system 10 having a computing system 11, diesel supply system 19, recycled oil (RO) supply system 49, and mixing system 79. In accordance with this and other embodiments of the invention as described herein and for continuity in terminology, the RO supply system 49 can be considered to be the first hydrocarbon supply system or spent hydrocarbon supply system, and the diesel supply system 19 can be considered to be the second hydrocarbon supply system or fresh hydrocarbon supply system. The computing system 11 is configured to control the operation of the diesel supply system 19 and RO supply system 49. In some instances the computing system 11 can also control the mixing system 79; however, there are some instances in which the mixing system operates autonomously or semi-autonomously.

The computing system 11 is illustrated to include a computer 12, output module 14, input module 16, and control module 18. Additionally, the computing system can include other elements that are well known in the art to be included in computing systems. As such, the computer 12 can be configured as any computer, such as a personal or portable computer, that can receive input data, process data, and provide operational parameters to at least the diesel system 19 and RO system 49. The output module 14 can be any module or component that can provide readouts, data, or other information from the computer 12 to a user. An example of the output module can be a typical computer monitor or a series of lights that provide information to the user. The input module 16 can be any module or component that can be used by a user in order to input instructions, data, or other information into the computer 12 by a user. The control module 18 can be internal components of the computer 12 that can provide control instructions and receive data from components of the continuous blending system 10. Also, the control module 18 can be an autonomous component that interoperates with the computer 12 in order to provide control instructions and receive data from components of the continuous blending system 10. The components of the computing system 11 are described in more detail below.

The computing system 11 operates to control the diesel supply system 19, recycled oil (RO) supply system 49, and mixing system 79 under instructions input into the computer 12 by the user. More particularly, the user can operate the computing system 11 by inputting data into the input module 16. For example, the user can input the operating conditions for the continuous blending system 10 so that the diesel supply system 19, recycled oil (RO) supply system 49, and mixing system 79 provide a mixed product that meets the needs or predefined parameters input by the user into the input module 16. Examples of specific information the user can input into the input module 16 includes outside temperature, temperature of supply, temperature of mix, flow rate of each supply, flow rate of mixed product, ratio of the two different supplies in the mixed product, and the like.

The diesel supply system 19 is illustrated to include a diesel inlet pipe 20, diesel pump 28, diesel flow meter 34, diesel feedback pipe 40, and diesel control valve 44. The diesel supply system 19 is configured such that a diesel supply 22 can be attached to the diesel inlet pipe 20 so as to allow diesel fuel to flow there through during operation of the continuous blending system 10. As such, the diesel inlet pipe 20 is fluidly coupled to a diesel pre-pump pipe 26 that in turn is fluidly coupled to the diesel pump 28. The diesel pump 28 is configured with electronic components so as to be capable of producing various diesel flow rates under control of the computing system 11 so that the diesel received from the diesel pre-pump pipe 26 flows through the diesel pump 28 and into a diesel post-pump pipe 30 at a predefined flow rate. The diesel post-pump pipe 30 is in fluid communication with a diesel flow meter 34, which is configured to determine the diesel flow rate that is output from the diesel pump 28. The diesel flow meter 34 can have a visual flow rate readout and can be equipped with electronic components that can provide the diesel flow rate to the computing system 11 in order for the diesel pump 28 output flow rate to be controlled. Additionally, the diesel flow meter 34 is in fluid communication with a diesel pre-control valve pipe 42 that in turn is in fluid communication with a diesel control valve 44. The diesel control valve 44 is opened by the computing system 11 so as to allow the diesel fuel to flow there through at the diesel pump 28 output flow rate and into a diesel post-control valve pipe 46. The diesel fuel flowing through the diesel post-control valve pipe 46 can be supplied to the mixing system 79 by being introduced into a diesel/RO junction that receives flows from both the diesel supply system 19 and RO supply system 49.

Additionally, the diesel supply system 19 can include a diesel feedback loop 37. The diesel feedback loop 37 includes a diesel feedback inlet junction 38, a diesel feedback pipe 40, and a diesel feedback outlet junction 24. The diesel feedback inlet junction 38 is disposed between the diesel flow meter 34 and the diesel control valve 44, and the diesel feedback outlet junction 24 is disposed between the diesel supply 22 and the diesel pump 28. Alternatively, the diesel feedback inlet junction 38 can be a part of the diesel control valve 44, and the diesel feedback outlet junction 24 can be a part of the diesel input pipe 20, diesel supply 22, or diesel pump 28. In any event, when the diesel control valve 44 is closed, the diesel supply system 19 routes the diesel flowing through the diesel flow meter 34 into the diesel feedback loop 37. This can include routing the diesel through the diesel feedback inlet junction 38, through the diesel feedback pipe 40, and through the diesel feedback outlet junction 38. The diesel feedback loop 37 can be advantageous for optimizing the diesel flow rate before the diesel fuel is supplied to the mixing system 79. As such, the diesel can flow through the diesel feedback loop 37 so that the computer can receive diesel flow rate data from the diesel flow meter 34 in order to change and optimize diesel flow rate output from the diesel pump 28, wherein the diesel flow rate output from the diesel pump 28 is optimized to match the flow rate necessary to achieve a predetermined ratio of diesel and RO that is supplied to the mixing system 79.

The RO supply system 49 is illustrated to include a RO inlet pipe 50, RO pump 58, RO flow meter 64, RO feedback pipe 70, and RO control valve 74. The RO supply system 49 is configured such that a RO supply 52 can be attached to the RO inlet pipe 50 so as to allow RO to flow there through during operation of the continuous blending system 10. As such, the RO inlet pipe 50 is fluidly coupled to a RO pre-pump pipe 56 that in turn is fluidly coupled to the RO pump 58. The RO pump 58 is configured with electronic components so as to be capable of producing various RO flow rates under control of the computing system 11 so that the RO received from the RO pre-pump pipe 56 flows through the RO pump 58 and into a RO post-pump pipe 60 at a predefined flow rate. The RO post-pump pipe 60 is in fluid communication with a RO flow meter 64, which is configured to determine the RO flow rate that is output from the RO pump 58. The RO flow meter 64 can have a visual flow rate readout and can be equipped with electronic components that can provide the RO flow rate to the computing system 11 in order for the RO pump 58 output flow rate to be controlled. Additionally, the RO flow meter 64 is in fluid communication with a RO pre-control valve pipe 72 that in turn is in fluid communication with a RO control valve 74. The RO control valve 74 is opened by the computing system 11 so as to allow the RO to flow there through at the RO pump 58 output flow rate and into a RO post-control valve pipe 76. The RO flowing through the RO post-control valve pipe 76 can be supplied to the mixing system 79 by being introduced into a diesel/RO junction that receives flows from both the diesel supply system 19 and RO supply system 49.

Additionally, the RO supply system 49 can include a RO feedback loop 67. The RO feedback loop 67 includes a RO feedback inlet junction 68, a RO feedback pipe 70, and a RO feedback outlet junction 54. The RO feedback inlet junction 68 is disposed between the RO flow meter 64 and the RO control valve 74, and the RO feedback outlet junction 54 is disposed between the RO supply 52 and the RO pump 58. Alternatively, the RO feedback inlet junction 68 can be a part of the RO control valve 74, and the RO feedback outlet junction 54 can be a part of the RO input pipe 50, RO supply 52, or RO pump 58. In any event, when the RO control valve 74 is closed, the RO supply system 49 routes the RO flowing through the RO flow meter 64 into the RO feedback loop 67. This can include routing the RO through the RO feedback inlet junction 58, through the RO feedback pipe 70, and through the RO feedback outlet junction 68. The RO feedback loop 67 can be advantageous for optimizing the RO flow rate before the RO is supplied to the mixing system 79. As such, the RO can flow through the RO feedback loop 67 so that the computer can receive RO flow rate data from the RO flow meter 64 in order to change and optimize RO flow rate output from the RO pump 58, wherein the RO flow rate output from the RO pump 28 is optimized to match the flow rate necessary to achieve a predetermined ratio of diesel and RO that is supplied to the mixing system 79.

The mixing system 79 is illustrated to include the diesel/RO junction 48, a mixer 82, and a mixer output valve 86. The mixing system 79 is configured to simultaneously receive a diesel flow from the diesel supply system 19 and a RO flow from the RO supply system 49. As such, the diesel flow enters the diesel/RO junction 48 when the diesel control valve 44 is opened, and the RO flow enters the diesel/RO junction 48 when the RO control valve 74 is opened. The diesel flow rate and RO flow rate are set so as to produce the mixed product at the predetermined ratio of diesel and RO. After the diesel and RO flow into the diesel/RO junction 48, the flow then passes through a mixer inlet 80 and into the mixer 82. The mixer 82 can be any type of mixing apparatus that can continuously mix continuous feed streams. This allows for the mixed product to be produced in a continuous manner. After the mixed product is mixed in the mixer 82, the mixed product can flow through the mixer outlet 84. Additionally, the mixed product can be dispensed from the mixing system 79 when the mixer output valve 86 is opened.

The computing system 11 is configured such that the control module 18 can be in electronic communication with the components that can be controlled by the computing system 11. As such, the control module 18 can have electronic or optical data lines that electronically or optically couple the control module 18 with the components. For example, the control module 18 can be electronically or optically coupled to the components by the following: data line 90a electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the diesel pump 28; data line 90b electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the diesel flow meter 34; data line 90c electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the diesel control valve 44; data line 90d electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the mixer 82; data line 90e electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the RO control valve 74; data line 90f electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with the RO flow meter 64; and data line 90g electronically or optically couples the control module 18 with RO pump 58. The exchange of electronic data lines with optical data lines is well know in the art can be facilitated with the use of optical transceivers and fiber optic cables. Alternatively, the data lines 90 can be replaced with radio frequency transmissions so that the control module 18 is communicatively coupled with each of the components via radio waves. Moreover, any communication system or process that can be outfitted into the current invention can take the place of the physical data lines illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of a continuous blending system 110 having a computing system 112, diesel supply system 119, recycled oil (RO) supply system 149, and mixing system 179. In accordance with this and other embodiments of the invention as described herein and for continuity in terminology, the supply system 149 can be considered to be the first hydrocarbon supply system or spent hydrocarbon supply system, and the diesel supply system 119 can be considered to be the second hydrocarbon supply system or fresh hydrocarbon supply system. The computing system 112 is configured to control the operation of the diesel supply system 119 and RO supply system 149. In some instances the computing system 112 can also control the mixing system 179; however, there are some instances in which the mixing system operates autonomously or semi-autonomously.

The computing system 112 can include the components and operate within the continuous blending system 110 as described herein. Briefly, the computing system 112 can be configured to control any of the components of the continuous blending system 110 via physical or radio data transmissions in order to achieve a mixed product having a desired ratio of diesel fuel and RO.

The diesel supply system 119 is illustrated to include a diesel inlet 120, diesel strainer 125, diesel pump 128, diesel flow meter 134, and diesel control valve 144. The diesel supply system 119 can be configured and operated as described in connection with the diesel supply system 19 of FIG. 1. Additionally, the diesel strainer 125 can be positioned between a diesel supply 122 and the diesel pump 125 so that the diesel strainer 125 can remove particulates that may be present in the flow of diesel fuel. Diesel strainers 125 or filtering systems that can be used to filter diesel fuel are well known in the art. While not shown, the diesel supply system 119 can also include a diesel feedback loop, such as described in connection with FIG. 1 (see dashed lines). As such, the diesel feedback loop can have an inlet that is positioned downstream from the diesel flow meter 134 and an outlet that is positioned upstream of the diesel pump 128. In any event, the diesel feedback loop can provide a path for the diesel flow when the diesel control valve 144 is closed.

The RO supply system 149 is illustrated to include a RO inlet 150, RO strainer 155, RO pump 158, RO flow meter 154, and RO control valve 174. The RO supply system 149 can be configured and operated as described in connection with the RO supply system 49 of FIG. 1. Additionally, the RO strainer 155 can be positioned between a RO supply 152 and the RO pump 155 so that the RO strainer 155 can remove particulates that may be present in the flow of RO. RO strainers 155 or filtering systems that can be used to filter RO are well known in the art. While not shown, the RO supply system 149 can also include a RO feedback loop, such as described in connection with FIG. 1 (see dashed lines). As such, the RO feedback loop can have an inlet that is positioned downstream from the RO flow meter 164 and an outlet that is positioned upstream of the RO pump 158. In any event, the RO feedback loop can provide a path for the RO flow when the RO control valve 174 is closed.

The mixing system 179 is illustrated to include a mixer 182, and a mixer output valve 186, and a sample testing station 191. The mixing system 179 is configured to simultaneously receive a diesel flow from the diesel supply system 119 and a RO flow from the RO supply system 149. As such, the diesel flow enters the mixing system 179 when the diesel control valve 144 is opened, and the RO flow enters the mixing system 179 when the RO control valve 174 is opened. The diesel flow rate and RO flow rate are set so as to produce the mixed product at the predetermined ratio of diesel and RO. The mixer 182 can be any type of mixing apparatus that can continuously mix continuous feed streams. This allows for the mixed product to be produced in a continuous manner. After the mixed product is mixed in the mixer 182, the mixed product can flow through the mixer outlet 184. Additionally, the mixed product can be dispensed from the mixing system 179 when the mixer output valve 186 is opened.

The sample testing station 191 can be configured such that the user can take a sample of the mixed product in order to perform tests to determine whether or not the mixed product includes the predetermined ratio of diesel and RO. The sample testing station 191 can include a holding tank 188, sample testing port 192, sample holding tank 194, sample transfer pump 196, and mixer valve 186. Optionally, the holding tank 188 can be omitted when the first mixer valve 186 can be configured to supply the mixed product to the sample testing port 192. In any event, the user can remove a sample from the sample testing port 192 for analysis. The mixed product that is not removed can be supplied to the sample holding tank 194 for storage or immediate transfer back to the holding tank, or can be supplied to the second mixer valve 186 so that it can be dispensed. Additionally, the sample testing station 191 can be a separate system that can be attached and detached from the rest of the continuous blending system 110.

III. Continuous Blending System Components

The continuous blending systems of the present invention, such as described in connection with FIGS. 1 and 2, can include various components that can facilitate the production of burner fuel or blasting agent as described herein. As such, the components described herein can be combined or replace with other components that can provide a similar or substitutable functionality in order to arrive at a continuous blending system that continuously blends a first hydrocarbon with a second hydrocarbon at a predetermined ratio. As such, components that can be incorporated into the embodiments of the continuous blending systems of the present invention are described in more detail below. In any event, components that come into contact with the hydrocarbon flows are configured to be resistant to hydrocarbons by including hydrocarbon-resistant materials or materials that resist degrading from hydrocarbons.

The computing system can include computers and computer components that are commonly employed in computing systems. Additionally, the computing system can include hardware and software for implementing the processes described herein, which can allow for a user to implement instructions into the computing system and for the computing system to control the process of the continuous blending systems of the present invention. Although not required, the invention can be implemented in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by computing systems. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, and the like, which perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Computer-executable instructions, associated data structures, and program modules represent examples of the program code means for executing acts of the methods and blending processes disclosed herein.

A general-purpose computer system can include a processing unit, a system memory, and a system bus that couples various system components including the system memory to the processing unit. The processing unit can execute computer-executable instructions designed to implement features of the computer system, including features of the present invention. The system bus may be any of several types of bus structures including a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures. The system memory includes read only memory (“ROM”) and random access memory (“RAM”); however, other types of memory can be used such as EPROM, EEPROM, and the like. A basic input/output system (“BIOS”), containing the basic routines that help transfer information between elements within computer system, such as during start-up, may be stored in ROM.

The computer system may also include a magnetic hard disk drive for a reading from and writing to a magnetic hard disk, a magnetic disk drive for reading from or writing to a removable magnetic disk, and an optical disk drive for reading from or writing to removable optical disk, such as, or example, a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, or other optical media including magneto-optical media. Also, the computer system includes a generic data storage device, which can be any type of data storage device. The drives and their associated computer-readable media provide nonvolatile storage of computer-executable instructions, data structures, program modules, and other data for the computer system.

Program code means comprising one or more program modules may be stored on the hard disk, magnetic disk, optical disk, ROM, RAM, and/or generic data storage device, including an operating system, one or more application programs, other program modules, and program data. A user may enter commands and information into the computer system through a keyboard, pointing device, or other input devices (not shown), such as, for example, a microphone, joy stick, game pad, scanner, or the like. These and other input devices can be connected to the processing unit through an input/output interface or audio adapter coupled to the system bus. An input/output interface logically represents any of a wide variety of different interfaces, such as, for example, a serial port interface, a PS/2 interface, a parallel port interface, a Universal Serial Bus (“USB”) interface, or an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”) 1394 interface (i.e., a FireWire interface), or may even logically represent a combination of different interfaces.

A monitor or other display device is also connected to the system bus via a video interface. Speakers or other audio output devices are also connected to the system bus via the audio interface. Other peripheral output devices (not shown), such as, for example, printers, can also be connected to computer system.

The computer system can be connectable to computer networks, such as, for example, an office-wide or enterprise-wide computer network, a home network, an intranet, the Internet, WAN, LAN, SAN, wireless network, and the like. This can allow for the computing system to receive and transmit data with remote locations. This can allow a user to remotely input data into the computer system. Also, this can allow a user to receive data from a remote location while operating the continuous blending system. Accordingly, the computer system can be any type of computer, computing device, electronic communication device, or other similar workstation that can interface with a remote computer. Also, computer system can exchange data with external sources, such as, for example, remote computer systems, remote applications, remote servers, remote security managers, and/or remote databases over such computer networks.

The components of the present invention that can be controlled with the controller can be configured to operate with electronic equipment that can processing parameters to the user and/or computing system. For example, the components of the present invention can be configured to operate with a PC-programmable frequency transmitter and display (e.g., Moore Industries' FDY PC-Programmable Frequency Transmitter and Display), a digital totalizing counter or meter (e.g., PAX Lite Counter, PAXLC), and the like.

The pipes of the present invention can be any type of pipe that can be used to supply the hydrocarbons to be blended into the mixed product. As such, the pipes should have sufficient diameters to be able to supply the hydrocarbons at sufficient rates to achieve the predetermined ratio of diesel and RO. Flexible tubes and hoses that are resistant to hydrocarbon degradation can also be employed. For example, hoses that are commonly employed in the petroleum industry can be employed in place of any pipe. Such a hose could be advantageously employed to connect the diesel/RO supply system to a diesel/RO supply or downstream from the mixer valve so that the mixed product can be dispensed into a container. Such pipes, flexible tubes, and hoses are well known in the art.

In the instance a flexible tube or hose is utilized in the present invention, a counterweight hose retriever can be employed to control the positioning of the hose and prevent against contamination.

The pumps of the present invention can be any type of pump that can pump hydrocarbon liquids at different flow rates without experiencing degradation. For example, the pumps can be positive displacement pumps with variable frequency drives (e.g., Roper Pump Company).

The flow meter can be any type of flow meter that can read the flow rate of a hydrocarbon and provide flow rate data to the computing system. This can include the flow meter being equipped with a device that converts mechanical flow rate information into electronic data. The flow meter can be a positive displacement meter that can measure the flow rate using a mechanical means. For example, the flow meter can be a Liquid Controls Positive Displacement Flowmeter. The flow meter can be equipped with a pulse output device that converts the mechanical motion, such as rotary motion, of a mechanical flow meter into electronic pulses that can be communicated to the computing system.

The mixer can be any type of mixer that can receive and mix continuous flows for hydrocarbons. As such, the mixer can include motors to as to move mixing wands or mixing arms through the mixing product. Also, the mixer can be a static or motionless mixer that is configured to fold the mixing product onto itself. For example, the mixer can be a static, motionless mixer, such as an “A” series inline mixer from KOMAX.

The mixer valves can be configured as dispensing valves that are commonly used to supply a liquid, such as a hydrocarbon liquid, into a container or truck having a container. As such, the mixer valves can be outfitted with nozzles so that the mixed produced can be pumped into a container. For example, the mixer valves can be a Wiggins valve.

The strainer can be a common hydrocarbon strainer or liquid control strainer that can be configured to strain the hydrocarbons. For example, the strainers can be F-7, FA-7, F-15, F-30, and Steel Series Strainers from Liquid Controls.

Additionally, an embodiment of the continuous blending system can include the following: the mixer valve that dispenses the mixed product can be a Wiggins connector; the Wiggins connector can be connected to a hose, such as a two inch by 15 foot fuel hose that couples with the mixer; the fuel hose connected to the Wiggins connector can be affixed to a counterweight hose retriever that acts as a vertical take up assembly; the mixer outlet can include a non-magnetic flow switch upstream of the fuel hose; the mixer can be a 3 inch static mixer; a totalizer can be included that measures the total amount of mixed product dispensed from the continuous blending system, which can be per load or over multiple loads; the pipes supplying the hydrocarbons can include spring loaded check valves, such as 2 inch check valves; the control valves can be normally closed safety solenoid valves, such as two inch solenoid valves; the flow meters can be 2 inch fuel meters with digital and manual readers; any of the pipes can include a reducer; any of the pipes can include lockable ball valves that can be configured to drain and/or vent the pipe, such as ¾ inch ball valves; any of the pipes can include lockable butterfly valves for pipe service, such as 4 inch lockable butterfly valves; the RO strainer can be a waste oil basket strainer, such as a cartridge style strainer; the diesel strainer can be a diesel “Y” strainer; any of the pipes can include a lockable ball valves with full port; any of the pipes or storage tanks can include a sight glass; any of the junctions can be typical unions, such as 2 inch unions; the feedback look can include any valve, such as a 2 inch full flow valve; and a hose, such as a four inch by ten foot suction hose, can be used to connect the hydrocarbon supply systems to hydrocarbon supplies. Additionally, the aforementioned dimensions can be modulated as needed. For example, the dimensions can be modulated to accommodate a 24 inch static mixer.

The system can also include pressure relief valves that are configured to keep the pressure of hydrocarbons within the system below a specific pressure. For example, the pressure relief valves can be configured to inhibit the system from going over 70 psi, and can activate to send the hydrocarbons through the feedback loop when the pressure achieves 70 psi. The pressure setting can be modulated depending on use.

IV. Process for Continuous Blending

In one embodiment, the computing system is configured to control operation of the continuous blending system by a user inputting data into the computing system. As such, operation of the continuous blending system can include a startup mode for calibrating the flow rate of the first hydrocarbon and the second hydrocarbon. The control valves that regulate the flow of the hydrocarbons into the mixing system or mixer are closed during the startup mode so that the hydrocarbons flow through the feedback loops. As such, when the continuous blending system receives input data, the pumps can begin to ramp up to full speed and then begin to ramp down to the speed and flow rate required by the predetermined blend ratio input into the computing system by the user. The startup mode can continue to while the flow monitors monitor the flow rate from each pump and transmit flow data to the computing system that in turn controls the pumps. The flow monitors can send over a thousand data pulses to the computing system per gallon, which in turn provides the data to continuously control the pumps. For example, the startup mode can be programmed to last for any duration; however, it has been found that 2 minutes is sufficient.

Accordingly, the startup mode can include the following: operating the diesel pump with the diesel valve closed so that the diesel fuel flows through the diesel feedback loop; measuring the diesel hydrocarbon flow rate with the diesel flow meter; regulating the diesel pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the diesel fuel; operating the RO pump with the RO valve closed so that the RO flows through the RO feedback loop; measuring the RO flow rate with the RO flow meter; and regulating the RO pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the RO.

Optionally, the startup mode can be performed by the mixing system including the following: the diesel flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the diesel fuel to obtain a first plurality of flow rate data per gallon of diesel; the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the diesel fuel in response to the first plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the diesel pump; the RO flow meter is configured to read the flow rate of the RO to obtain a second plurality of flow rate data per gallon of RO; and the computing system is configured to control the flow rate of the RO in response to the second plurality of flow rate data by modulating a variable frequency drive in the RO pump.

In one embodiment, operation of the continuous blending system can include a steady-state mode for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon product at a flow rate and having the predefined ratio of diesel fuel and RO. Such a steady-state mode can include the following: regulating the diesel pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the diesel; opening the diesel control valve so as to supply a continuous flow of diesel fuel to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the diesel fuel; regulating the RO pump output so as to be a continuous flow having a flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the RO; and opening the RO control valve so as to supply a continuous flow of RO to the mixer at the flow rate to achieve the predefined ratio with respect to the RO. The steady-state mode can be programmed at any blend desired by the user, or can be programmed with the following blends: 50/50 (40 gpm diesel, 40 gpm RO); 60/40 (48 gpm diesel, 32 gpm RO); and 70/30 (56 gpm diesel, 24 gpm RO). The steady-state mode dispensing rate can be programmed to be any rate by the user, or can be programmed to be 70-80 gpm.

Typically, after the flow meters identify the flows have the appropriate flow rates in order to achieve the predetermined ratio of the mixed product, the control valves are opened by the computing system. When the control valves are opened, the hydrocarbons flow into and through the mixer and pressurize the dispensing hose at the downstream side of the mixer.

In one embodiment, the continuous blending system can include an automatic stop safety setting in order to stop the continuous blending system from dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon. The automatic stop safety setting can be set to be implemented by at least one of the following: a stop command being input into the computing system; a predefined time limit expiring for dispensing the mixed hydrocarbon; a predefined amount of mixed hydrocarbon being dispensed from the mixer; at least one of the first or second hydrocarbon having a flow rate that does not achieve the predefined ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon; and the ratio of the first and second hydrocarbon being a ratio other then the predefined ratio. For example, the computing system can be programmed such that the mixed product can be dispensed for a specific time for the operator to fill a container, such as a blasting truck, before the system will shut down and cease dispensing mixed product. The automatic shutdown time can be any duration; however, it has been found that 1 minute is sufficient for most volumes for preparing blasting agent.

In the instance the diesel pump fails to start or malfunctions, the system can automatically shut down. That is, if the diesel pump output flow rate falls below or rises above the desired flow, the system can shut down and lockout. The RO pump can be configured the same so that it shuts down when the flow rate is inadequate.

Additionally, the system can be configured to include a no flow shutdown mode. The no flow shutdown mode can be activated with the system is started and is ready for dispensing mixed product, but the dispensing nozzle is closed. This can initiate a timer, such as a 1 minute timer, that will shut down the system and close all valves unless the mixed product is dispensed before the timer expires.

EXAMPLE

The continuous blending system was tested to determine whether the programmed flow rates achieved the desired ratio of diesel and RO. Three time tests were performed with 1 minute pump tests at three different blend ratios: 50/50; 60/40; and 70/30. The 50/50 blend was achieved with a diesel flow rate of 42.0 gpm (gallons per minute) of diesel and 41.9 gpm RO. The 60/40 blend was achieved with a diesel flow rate of 52.8 gpm of diesel and 35.3 gpm RO. The 70/30 blend was achieved with a diesel flow rate of 59.4 gpm of diesel and 25.3 gpm RO.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.