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ASTM D1988-20

Standard Test Method for Mercaptans in Natural Gas Using Length-of-Stain Detector Tubes

Standard Test Method for Mercaptans in Natural Gas Using Length-of-Stain Detector Tubes D1988-20 ASTM|D1988-20|en-US Standard Test Method for Mercaptans in Natural Gas Using Length-of-Stain Detector Tubes Standard new BOS Vol. 05.06 Committee D03
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Significance and Use

5.1 The measurement of mercaptans in natural gas is important, because mercaptans are often added as odorants to natural gas to provide a warning property. The odor provided by the mercaptan serves to warn consumers (for example, residential use) of natural gas leaks at levels that are well below the flammable or suffocating concentration levels of natural gas in air. Field determinations of mercaptans in natural gas are important because of the tendency of the mercaptan concentration to decline over time.

5.2 This test method provides inexpensive field screening of mercaptans. The system design is such that it may be used by nontechnical personnel, with a minimum of training.


1.1 This test method covers a rapid and simple field determination of mercaptans in natural gas pipelines. Available detector tubes provide a total measuring range of 0.5 to 160 ppm by volume of mercaptans, although the majority of applications will be on the lower end of this range (that is, under 20 ppm). Besides total mercaptans, detector tubes are also available for methyl mercaptan (0.5 to 100 ppm), ethyl mercaptan (0.5 to 120 ppm), and butyl mercaptan (0.5 to 30 mg/M3 or 0.1 to 8 ppm).

Note 1: Certain detector tubes are calibrated in terms of milligrams per cubic metre (mg/M3) instead of parts per million by volume. The conversion is as follows for 25 °C (77 °F) and 760 mm Hg.

Equation D1988-20_1

1.2 Detector tubes are usually subject to interferences from gases and vapors other than the target substance. Such interferences may vary among brands because of the use of different detection principles. Many detector tubes will have a precleanse layer designed to remove interferences up to some maximum level. Consult manufacturer's instructions for specific interference information. Hydrogen sulfide and other mercaptans are usually interferences on mercaptan detector tubes. See Section 6 for interferences of various methods of detection.

1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific hazard statements, see 8.3.

1.4 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 05.06
Developed by Subcommittee: D03.06.04
Pages: 4
DOI: 10.1520/D1988-20
ICS Code: 75.060