Monday, June 26, 2017

Sometimes the Simple Solution Is the Best

metal tube variable area flowmeter
This metal tube variable area flow meter is reliable,
accurate, and requires little maintenance
Photo courtesy Brooks Instrument
For process control and commercial or industrial applications, there are numerous methods of flow measurement from which to choose. Technologies range from very simple applications of physical principles to deployment of very specialized electronics and sensors. The available range of accuracy, response, and cost is quite broad, with a general expectation that higher cost will deliver better performance and accuracy.

Making the best instrument selection for a flow measurement application should include an assessment of what the operators really need in order to safely and effectively run the process or perform the task related to the measurement of fluid flow. Installing instrumentation with capabilities far beyond what is required is almost certainly a waste of financial resources, but may also have an unexpected impact on operators. Through the generation of data that, while accurate, does not provide any actionable information about process condition, operators can be misled, similar to the occurrence of a false or nuisance alarm. Some applications call for high accuracy, some do not. Define your informational needs and select instruments that will meet those needs.

There is a large array of applications that can be satisfied with simpler, less costly measurement technology. These devices often employ turbines or vanes to produce an indication of flow rate. Incorporated into some of the instruments is a means to visually observe the flowing liquid to verify color and clarity. Simple devices sometimes are intended only to indicate the presence of fluid flow, and whether the flow rate is high or low. Configurations are available that allow insertion into lines under pressure (hot tap) through a full port ball valve. Other variants with combinations of features and capabilities abound.

The selection range is enormous, so define your minimum needs first, then search for a compatible product. Your search can be enhanced by contacting an instrumentation specialist. Combining your process expertise with their broad product knowledge will produce effective solutions.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Heat Processing of Industrial Fluids

gas fired steam boilers in industrial facility
Steam produced by gas fired industrial boilers is a
commonly applied means of delivering heat energy
Heat, as an entity, was not always something seen as a partially visible potential indicator of changing weather patterns. The now outdated caloric theory portrayed heat as a measure of an invisible fluid called the caloric, typifying it as a solely physical property. Thermodynamics have surpassed the caloric theory and rendered it obsolete, but the understanding and manipulation of heat in industrial settings, especially pertaining to fluids, is a central part of some of the world’s most important industries. Specifically, the measurement and control of heat related to fluid processing is a vital industrial function, and relies on regulating the heat content of a fluid to achieve a desired temperature and outcome.

The manipulation of a substance’s heat content is based on the central principle of specific heat, which is a measure of heat energy content per unit of mass. Heat is a quantified expression of a system’s internal energy. Though heat is not considered a fluid, it behaves, and can be manipulated, in some similar respects. Heat “flows” from points of higher temperature to those of lower temperature, just as a fluid will flow from a point of higher pressure to one of lower pressure.

A heat exchanger provides an example of how the temperature of two fluids can be manipulated to regulate the flow or transfer of heat. Despite the design differences in heat exchanger types, the basic rules and objectives are the same. Heat energy from one fluid is passed to another across a barrier that prevents contact and mixing of the two fluids. By regulating temperature and flow of one stream, an operator can exert control over the heat content, or temperature, of another. These flows can either be gases or liquids. Heat exchangers raise or lower the temperature of these streams by transferring heat between them.

Recognizing the heat content of a fluid as a representation of energy helps with understanding how the moderation of energy content can be vital to process control. Controlling temperature in a process can also provide control of reactions among process components, or physical properties of fluids that can lead to desired or improved outcomes.

Heat can be added to a system in a number of familiar ways. Heat exchangers enable the use of steam, gas, hot water, oil, and other fluids to deliver heat energy. Other methods may employ direct contact between a heated object (such as an electric heating element) or medium and the process fluid. While these means sound different, they all achieve heat transfer by applying at least one of three core transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction involves the transfer of heat energy through physical contact among materials. Shell and tube heat exchangers rely on the conduction of heat by the tube walls to transfer energy between the fluid inside the tube and the fluid contained within the shell. Convection relates to heat transfer due to the movement of fluids, the mixing of fluids with differing temperature. Radiant heat transfer relies on electromagnetic waves and does not require a transfer medium, such as air or liquid. These central explanations are the foundation for the various processes used to regulate systems in industrial control environments.

The manner in which heat is to be applied or removed is an important consideration in the design of a process system. The ability to control temperature and rate at which heat is transferred in a process depends in large part on the methods, materials, and media used to accomplish the task. Selecting and properly applying the best suited controls, instruments and equipment is a key element of successful process operation. Share your challenges with application experts, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product expertise to develop effective solutions.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Valves for LNG and CNG Operations

high pressure valve intended for use with natural gas
Valve specially designed for gas extraction operations
has integral bypass which equalizes pressure across the
valve prior to opening the main line, reducing torque
requirements and  piping stress.
Courtesy Habonim
The production and distribution of natural gas presents operators with substantial logistical, safety, and physical challenges. Maintaining flow control, containing, and dispensing of natural gas, CNG, and LNG are hazardous endeavors requiring special equipment configuration throughout the supply chain.

Source and pipeline operations are faced with high pressure and extreme working environments. At various points along the distribution path, valves will be needed to regulate or direct flow and isolate portions of the system for safety or service. Emergency shutdown valves must be configured and installed to provide failure-proof reliability when called upon to operate. Transportation containers and equipment will utilize specialized valves adapted for the pressure, temperature, and reliability requirements of the application and industry. Additionally, some may need to survive fire conditions without failure.

Fueling stations for compressed natural gas employ valves that will endure cold temperatures produced by gas expansion, plus dynamic pressure cycling. Bubble tight shutoff is necessary to maintain safety.

Liquified natural gas (LNG) presents many of the same application challenges as pressurized gas, with the added element of cryogenic temperatures.

All of these applications can be adequately served with a properly selected and configured valve and actuator. Share your fluid flow control and valve challenges of all types with application specialists. The combination of your process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise will produce an effective solution.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey Part 3

industrial water quality represented as bubbles
Water quality can be a concern for process input or effluent
What we know as “water” can consist of many non-H2O components in addition to pure water. This three part series has touched on some of the constituents of water that are of interest to various industrial processors. The first installment reviewed dissolved oxygen and chloride. The second article covered sulfates, sodium, and ammonia. 

To conclude the three part series on water quality analysis in process control related industrial applications we examine silica, another element which in sufficient quantities can become a confounding variable in water for industrial use. In natural settings, silica, or silicon dioxide, is a plentiful compound. Its presence in water provides a basis for some corrosion-inhibiting products, as well as conditioners and detergents. Problems arise, however, when high concentrates of silica complicate industrial processes which are not designed to accommodate elevated levels. Specifically, silica is capable of disrupting processes related to boilers and turbines. In environments involving high temperature, elevated pressure, or both, silica can form crystalline deposits on machinery surfaces. This inhibits the operation of turbines and also interferes with heat transfer. These deposits can result in many complications, ranging through process disruption, decreased efficiency, and resources being expended for repairs.

The silica content in water used in potentially affected processes needs to be sufficiently low in order to maintain rated function and performance. Silica analyzers provide continuous measurement and monitoring of silica levels. The analyzers detect and allow mitigation of silica in the initial stages of raw material acquisition or introduction to prevent undue disruption of the process. Additionally, a technique called power steam quality monitoring allows for the aforementioned turbine-specific inhibition – related to silica conglomerates reducing efficacy and physical movement – to be curtailed without much issue. The feedwater filtration couples with a low maintenance requirement, resulting in reduced downtime of analytic sequences and a bit of increased peace of mind for the technical operator.

While silica and the other compounds mentioned in this series are naturally occurring, the support systems in place to expertly control the quality of water is the most basic requirement for harvesting one of the earth’s most precious resources for use. As a matter of fact, the identification and control of compounds in water – both entering the industrial process and exiting the industrial process – demonstrates key tenets of process control fundamentals: precision, accuracy, durability, and technological excellence paired with ingenuity to create the best outcome not just one time, but each time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New Pulsar R86 Non-contact Radar Level Transmitter From Magnetrol

non-contact radar level transmitter
Magnetrol's new non-contact radar level transmitter,,
Pulsar R86
Courtesy Magnetrol
Level measurement is a part of countless industrial processes and installations. Accurate measurement of contained solids or liquid enhances safety and operational efficiency, both of which contribute to the bottom line.

Magnetrol, globally recognized innovator in flow and level measurement, recently released its latest version of non-contact radar level measuring instruments. The Pulsar R86 transmitter operates in the 26GHz range, delivering a smaller wavelength with improved resolution, smaller antenna, and a narrower beam. Other unique innovations have been incorporated into the instrument to simplify installation and application.

The R86 is suitable for a broad range of applications across almost every industry. On board diagnostics are incrementally advanced to provide best performance and deliver the information needed to maintain proper operation.

The latest information on the Pulsar R86 is included below. Reach out to process measurement specialists and share your measurement challenges and requirements. Combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise will result in an effective solution.