Confusion over radar level measurement

We have learned not to get too confused over suppliers using buzz-words and clever marketing names, but recently it seems the major level measurement system vendors have been introducing new and higher radar frequency systems as their latest development – and therefore, by implication, maybe the best. We were used to 6 GHz, and then 26 GHz radar frequencies, but why should we suddenly go to 80 GHz? Then, perhaps just to add a little excitement to the mix, Endress+Hauser started talking about 113 GHz!

113GHz_Key_Visual

The E+H radar line up that offers 113GHz!

This article was first featured in the journal South African Instrumentation & Control in September 2017, a journal published by Technews

Let’s dispel a few myths. Firstly, in the same way that lasers for fibre-optic communications systems made the technology available to create infrared optical systems for process gas analysers, and mobile phone technology possibly provided the hardware for the first radar level measurement systems; the 80 GHz versions are a result of measurement technology made commercially viable on the back of production investment in the distance measurement systems and parking sensors used in modern cars. So the suppliers take the available sensors and chipsets to create a new industrial product, and then have to find the best applications – in this case, the ones that might benefit from the 80 GHz.

Secondly, E+H do not have a 113 GHz system, this is a marketing statement, made to catch attention – ‘with a wink’ is their expression. They claim a ‘complete radar competence of 113 GHz’ because this is the sum of the many different frequencies their different sensors use! These are 1, 6, 26 and 80 GHz.

So why have different frequencies?

Possibly the best explanation for the applications suited to the different frequencies has been provided by the Rosemount measurement division of Emerson, in their “Engineer’s Guides”. The Emerson expertise stretches back many years, having acquired the Saab Tank Radar business. Per Skogberg, from the Gothenburg HQ in Sweden, separates the devices into low, medium and high frequency, to generalise.

Radar signals are attenuated, i.e. they lose signal strength as they pass through the air, or vapour, above the liquid. High frequencies are more severely affected than lower. When the air has moisture, steam or liquid droplets (from spray or filling) present, the attenuation is higher. Equally in solids applications, dust particles have the same effect. So low and medium frequency radar are best when there is dust or moisture present.

At lower frequencies, the wavelength is longer (30-50 mm), so surface ripples in a tank have a small effect. At higher frequencies, surface ripples and foam on the surface can be a problem. But the shorter wavelength of the high frequency units (4 mm) allows accurate operation over short ranges, for example in small tanks. The higher frequency units can use a smaller sensor construction, so the unit is easier to install. The beam angle is narrower, so it can be aimed at a smaller target area and therefore can be positioned more easily to avoid any obstructions in the tank. But even this can be a disadvantage, as the installation needs to be exactly vertical and any turbulence of the surface during filling or stirring can cause the signal to be lost temporarily, in larger tanks.

When reading these suggestions, it is important to remember that Emerson does not offer an 80 GHz unit yet, so their marketing approach would naturally bias users to look at low and medium frequency units. The suppliers of high frequency units (Vega, Krohne and E+H) would point out that in many liquid storage tanks the surface is undisturbed, since any foam, turbulence and significant ripples (>2 mm) caused by filling or liquid transfer will only cause short-term interference. Plus the small antenna size and short range performance make 80 GHz units very useful for smaller process vessels and tanks.

Radar system types

There are two types of radar systems, Guided Wave Radar (GWR) and Free Space Radar. The GWR systems use a conducting rod, or similar, extending down into the liquid, often working in a stilling chamber attached to the main process tank. These operate at low microwave frequencies, and are independent of surface turbulence and foam. They are useful for shorter range measurements and interface measurement between liquids, as well as long ranges.

The Free Space Radar systems are more widely used, since they are top-mounted with nothing in the tank: indeed, some can operate through non-conducting windows in the tank roof. Low and medium frequency radar systems generally transmit a signal pulse and measure the liquid distance by the time delay for the returned pulse. High frequency (80 GHz) systems use an FMCW radar measurement, where the frequency of the transmission is swept, and the frequency difference of the returned signal is measured to assess the distance. The FMCW technique is also used at 26 GHz in some recently launched sensors.

Radar systems can transmit their measurement data using 4-20 mA, fieldbus systems like HART, FF, Profibus PA and Modbus, or indeed via wireless systems like Bluetooth. The low and medium frequency pulsed radar systems generally operate over a two-wire interface: some of the higher frequency FMCW systems require more power and use a separate power connection.

Major applications

Simple low-cost radar level measurement sensors have been specifically designed for water industry use, in sewage sumps and flume flow measurement, by Vega and Endress+Hauser. Vega suggest that 40,000 such sensors are now in use in the water industry, mainly in Europe, and claim their total output of such sensors exceeds 550,000 units over the last 25 years.

Several of these devices use simple Bluetooth interrogation and programming from a handheld PDA: E+H demonstrates this at its facility in Maulberg, working on the stream that runs through the factory complex, as seen below.

Micropilot_FMR10_FMR20_on test stream at Maulberg, with operator using Bluetooth

Both E+H and Vega produce further industrial units for use on process vessels, and storage vessels for solids and liquids. Recently, E+H has extended its capability to add long-range units, such as the 80 GHz FMR62, working at up to 80 m range, with an accuracy of 1 mm. Other units work up to 125 m range, at 3 mm accuracy. These units will eventually be aimed at the large petrochemical industry storage tank markets, and specifically are working towards use for custody transfer duties.

Krohne have similarly announced a new range of its 80 GHz Optiwave sensors. Some of these can even operate at up to 700°C, for example for use on molten salt vessels in solar power plants. Lower specification units rated at up to 150°C can be used through a tank roof made of plastic, or similar materials. Suitable for small or narrow tanks, the unit can measure ranges of up to 100 m. Krohne also offers lower frequency Optiwave systems for use on solids and powders, or to electronically monitor the float position in magnetic level indicator columns attached to process vessels.

Postscript: Krohne is organising a webinar with the title “80 GHz Radar Level – Allrounder or Overrated?” to discuss their recent developments with such systems. This webinar will take place on 18th October 2017 at 3pm London time/10am New York time.

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Alfa Laval sees marine market growth in ballast and SOx

Readers of this blog will recall the Alfa Laval launch on their “PureBallast” water treatment system for marine vessels way back in 2007. The IMO international convention for the ‘control and management of ship’s ballast water and sediments’ was the legislation that would drive the adoption of such systems world-wide: at last this convention became legally binding on shipping and ship-owners worldwide on 8th September 2016. Inevitably there is a 12 month time lag before it will be legally enforced, and then, hopefully, tankers will not be allowed to ply their trade without having an approved ballast water treatment system fitted.

Ballast water treatment market

Peter Leifland, current president of the Marine & Diesel Division of Alfa Laval presented some interesting views of this market in support of the recent Alfa Laval Capital markets Day presentation to analysts and stockbrokers.

Leifland commented that “With the ratification in place, the market for retrofit installations is expected to start to move.”  Alfa Laval expects that 35 000 ships will install a ballast water treatment system between 2017 and 2025. This is split between 15 000 newly built ships and 20 000 retrofit installations. The average order value per ship for the Alfa Laval chemical-free solution is EUR 200,000 – 225,000.

The Alfa Laval system fully complies with IMO standards and requirements, but as ever different countries can impose further approval and performance requirements and testing, effectively policing their own waters so that only ships with their approved systems can trade in their waters. This means more approval testing, fees, and even design changes for suppliers like Alfa Laval. They have their PureBallast system nearing completion of the long testing procedure needed by the US Coast Guard to check that it meets with their USCG criteria.

Shipboard sulphur oxide emissions (SOx)

The IMO convention for the reduction of sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions from ships has been ratified and since 2015 it has been implemented in some Emission Control Areas (ECAs). This IMO regulation will become global by 2020, requiring that that emission levels will be cut to 0.5%.

Leifland commented that Alfa Laval estimates that 5 000 ships, new as well as existing, will install a scrubber solution in the period 2017-2025.” Given the continuing development of new solutions, Alfa Laval’s average order value per ship is expected to be EUR 1 million. Leifland sees these two developing markets as a useful opportunity, during a period where “falling ship contracting is impacting our order intake”.

Postscript 27 December 2016: 

Alfa Laval PureBallast 3 receives U.S. Coast Guard type approval

Peter Leifland, President of the Marine & Diesel division in Alfa Laval, reports that:

“I am very pleased to receive this type approval, as it confirms the reliable performance of our ballast water treatment system. We now have a system approved by both US Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization”.

Alfa Laval PureBallast 3 has received US Coast Guard type approval for usage in all water salinities, including fresh water. It follows upon two and a half years of compliance testing, according to the strict demands of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Environmental Technology Verification” (EPA ETV) testing protocol. The tests were performed at DHI’s test facilities in Denmark, supervised by DNV GL as the independent inspection laboratory.

 

Yokogawa Analyser systems integration services

The Yokogawa Analytical instrumentation makes up a significant part of their product range, serving customers in the oil, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, natural gas and power industries. The measurement techniques used in their products include chromatography, laser-based infra-red absorption and Raman spectroscopy, as well as industrial liquid sensors for conductivity and pH monitoring. Typically many of these sensors are installed in on-site laboratories or analyser houses, which can be skid or container type units attached to the process directly or via sample lines.

YokogawaASICenterEurope_02xx

The expertise developed within Yokogawa in the installation of efficient and effective analytical installations led to the establishment of a complete analyser system supply and integration service, to provide a total package of instruments, monitoring housings, sample line interconnections and conditioning systems, ready for site installation. Such services have been operational for some years, operating from bases within the Yokogawa US and Asian business units: now with the launch of a new service in Europe, ASI or Analyser Systems Integration, the same full service will be available to European customers. This makes Yokogawa a true one-stop-shop for ASI at both green-field or brown-field projects of almost any size, thus helping project owners to simplify their supply chains as they need only deal with a single team for all analytical requirements.

ASICenterEuropeinMadrid

The Yokogawa European ASI centre in Madrid

Loek van Eijck, business unit manager, analytical solutions at Yokogawa Europe, said: “We’re very pleased to announce the introduction of Yokogawa Europe’s Analyser System Integration service. This services responds to a growing market demand within the chemical, oil & gas industry, and increasingly in other process industries, to simplify project management of both new installations and renovations. We’ll be working with our own analysers and those of 3rd-party manufacturers, but it makes sense for project owners and primary contractors to deal with a single integrator of analytical systems, and for that integrator to be a supplier of instruments being installed.”

One of the major issues facing project managers is finding a team with the right skills and experience for specialist areas of project implementation. Yokogawa’s ASI service guarantees access to design and implementation engineers with the highest levels of qualification and certification. The highly skilled project management team is fully certified by Project Management Professional (PMP), while the engineering team designs solutions to the explosion-proof standards specified by ATEX, IECEx and all other relevant standards and legislative bodies, making design compliance easier to prove. They are backed up by a professional execution team with more than 150 years of accumulated installation experience.

YokogawaASICenterEurope_01xx

Yokogawa has built a global reputation for quality and innovation, and has now applied this to its ASI service. “We believe this sets our service apart from the competition,” said van Eijck. “Yokogawa has earned its reputation through involvement in some of the industry’s largest and most innovative projects, and is now able to apply this in Europe to ASI projects of almost any size from any process industry requiring highly accurate analytical instrumentation by sharing know-how with other ASI facilities and developing synergy among Yokogawa Group Companies.” This new facility makes Yokogawa a true one-stop-shop for ASI at both green-field or brown-field projects of almost any size, thus helping project owners to simplify their supply chains. The mature European process industry has many aging plants, and these regularly require updates, renovation and modernizationto meet current and new monitoring requirements.

The service provides a full analytical services life cycle from design, fabrication and manufacturing to installation, on-site services and training. Yokogawa ASI also links up to the similar services provided by Yokogawa in its Asian and US divisions providing customers with global coverage – an obvious advantage for international organisations and projects.

The ASI service in Europe is based in Madrid, Spain. Almudena Mier, ASI location manager at Yokogawa, said; “We have created an excellent facility here for the new service which offers a great environment for the team and the projects they will work on. Madrid is well served by transport links to the rest of Europe and beyond, and has access to some great local engineering talent as well as being an attractive place to work for staff and customers who come from elsewhere in Europe.”

(c) ProcessingTalk.info, June 2016

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Hybrid Laser Continuous Gas Analyser

Emerson has announced the release of the Rosemount CT5100 continuous gas analyser, the world’s only hybrid analyser to combine Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) and Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) measurement technologies for process gas analysis and emissions monitoring. The CT5100 is the latest offering in the Emerson CT5000 series, providing the most comprehensive analysis available as it can detect down to sub ppm level for a range of components, while simplifying operation and significantly reducing costs. Unlike traditional continuous gas analysers, the CT5100 can measure up to 12 critical component gases and potential pollutants simultaneously within a single system – meeting local, national, and international regulatory requirements.

The CT5100 was first shown at the Emerson European Exchange in Brussels, last month, and is one of several new developments to be launched this year, following the acquisition of the company Cascade Technologies, of Stirling in Scotland in December 2014.

QCL-Image-CT5100-Ex-160420

The CT5100 operates reliably with no consumables, no in-field enclosure, and a simplified sampling system that does not require any gas conditioning to remove moisture. The new gas analyser is ideally suited for process gas analysis, continuous emissions monitoring, and ammonia slip applications.

“The increase in regulatory requirements worldwide, along with the decrease in experienced personnel in industrial plants, have paved the way for the emergence of a new generation of faster, more accurate, and easier-to-use measurement technologies,” said Ruth Lindley, product manager for QCL analysers at Emerson. “The CT5100 represents an important next step in that direction, providing unmatched sub-second response time for precise, reliable measurement of complex gases and emissions to ensure regulatory compliance and prevent costly fines or unexpected shutdowns.”

The CT5100 is a unique combination of advanced technology, high reliability, and rugged design. Its ‘laser chirp’ technique expands gas analysis in both the near- and mid-infrared range, enhancing process insight, improving overall gas analysis sensitivity and selectivity, removing cross interference, and reducing response time. The laser chirp technique produces sharp, well-defined peaks from high resolution spectroscopy that enable specificity of identified components with minimum interference and without filtration, reference cells, or chemometric manipulations.

“The CT5100 modular design and patented ability to chirp up to six lasers in one enclosure provides greatly expanded measurement capability as well as superior analyser availability and lower maintenance costs,” said Dave McMillen, North America business development manager. “Start-up and commissioning is quick and maintaining the analyser requires minimal technician time and material cost.”

For more information on the CT5100 analyser, go to www.EmersonProcess.com/GasAnalysis/QCL. Surprisingly, the CT5100 replaces the older CT5200 model, which is now made obsolete.

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(c) ProcessingTalk.info

Emerson Enardo relief valves get WirelessHART communications

Emerson acquired Enardo, a manufacturer of pressure and vacuum relief valves based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in late 2013. This week saw the launch of a new wireless enabled version of the Enardo pressure and vacuum relief and safety valve used on storage tanks in the oil and gas, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Enardo_950_w-bracket

By adding the Smart Wireless monitoring system operating over the Emerson WirelessHART network, the safety valves, normally located on the top of large storage tanks, can easily signal to operators in the control room that they have been triggered to either relieve a pressure or vacuum condition. Such situations can arise as a result of changes in temperature, liquid level, or both, and relief valves are essential to prevent tank over or under-pressure conditions that could lead to structural failure. Enardo pipe-away, vent-to-atmosphere, in-line and end-of-line relief valves are typically installed on storage tanks to control evaporation and fugitive emission losses that result from flammable and hazardous petroleum vapour-producing products. Knowledge of the actuation of such a safety valve enables an immediate response, where needed, to prevent problems which can be related to safety, emissions, and the quality of a tank’s content.

Steve Attri, product manager at Emerson for the Enardo valves, commented: “Until now, PVRVs have remained un-monitored, with none of the feedback loops commonly seen in other pressure control devices. As the tank’s primary pressure control device, this wirelessly-monitored solution can be invaluable.”

Enardo manufactures tank and terminal safety equipment, including hatches, vent, pressure and vacuum relief valves and flame arrestors used in the oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical and other industries. Enardo in-line and stack vent valves have been the oilfield industry standard for more than 80 years.

Prior to the acquisition by Emerson, Enardo had sales of $65m a year, and employed 140 people. It now operates within the Regulator Technologies business, previously known as Fisher Regulators, within Emerson Process Management.

© Nick Denbow ProcessingTalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Multiple approval barriers to free trade in environmental protection systems

As a product development manager, I used to think that the supply of industrial instrumentation equipment was made particularly difficult by the plethora of International, European, American and specific industry (and country) specifications and requirements. In an age of International co-operation it seemed these approvals were designed to act as protective barriers for home industries. But these seem trivial compared to the problems faced by suppliers to the World shipping industry, in particular in relation to environmental protection.

Readers of this column over the years will have been aware that I reported enthusiastically on the Alfa Laval PureBallast treatment system for purifying ballast water discharges from ships, launched back in 2007, at Greenwich. This enthusiasm was because of both the professionalism of the launch, as well as the laudable product objective and aspiration: it was one of the best such events I had attended, despite atrocious windy weather, freak waves and thunderstorms on the boat cruise taking the Editors down to Greenwich! With slightly bigger waves there might have been no Editors left to report on the event!

BWT – Ballast Water Treatment systems

In the Alfa Laval system, light energy, from a broad spectrum source, acts on a Titanium catalyst in the flow, to produce hydroxyl ions, which oxidise and kill any organic material in the ballast discharge. This was developed in co-operation with Wallenius Water, who had done the shipboard tests on some of their ships over the previous three years. Alfa Laval launched this product in January 2007, to make it available for ship-owners in time to meet the IMO regulations that would require such equipment to be installed on all new build ships after 2009, in participating countries.

Another Scandinavian company, Optimarin from Norway, was at the same time addressing the ballast water treatment market, using Ultra-Violet light from high power UV sources (35kW) to kill any potentially harmful invasive organisms straight away. Optimarin was established in 1994 to develop this system, and supplied the first ever BWT system installed in 2000 on the Princess Cruise Line ‘Regal Princess’.

Extended approval timescales

It is significant that it is now 2016, over 20 years since Optimarin was founded, and at least 12 years after the first Alfa Laval systems were installed for sea trials on Wallenius ships. It is also 7 years after the first of the IMO regulations came into force – these did allow several years grace for older ships still operating from prior to 2009. All this makes for a very long lead time for any new product development to grow and become commercial!

Yet only in December last year did the US Coast Guard finally confirm that it would not type approve BWT systems if they failed to totally kill potentially invasive marine organisms transported in ballast water. This will exclude many ‘conventional’ UV purification systems which use lower power lamps as sources, since these render the organisms “unviable” (ie they are still alive but cannot reproduce). The approval tests carried out by DNV to prove performance to the USCG criteria (applying the CMFDA staining test method) takes up to a year, and Optimarin suggests that the testing – due for completion this year – will cost them around US$3m.

Alfa Laval also expresses confidence that their PureBallast system will meet the current USCG test criteria, and their tests will also be completed this year: at the moment, Alfa Laval points out that although US ballast water regulations took effect in 2012, no systems of any technology have yet been type approved by the USCG.

IMO, the World shipping legislative body

Indeed the IMO regulations themselves are not universally applied as yet: the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water & Sediments” is legislated to enter into force one year after being ratified by 30 states, representing 35% of the world’s tonnage. At present, March 2016, 46 states have ratified, representing 34.8% of the world’s tonnage – almost at the action stage! So the product is on the point of what should be a worldwide legislated requirement…..one more country to ratify the IMO proposal, with one more tanker, and a year later the market will be confirmed. Its only taken nearly 20 years for these products to become a market requirement!

The USCG requirements will have no effect on shipping using previously approved UV BWT systems in the seas and oceans outside US territorial waters.

Individual ship approvals, Insurers, and Ex regulations

The problems for the suppliers are not yet finished: for shipboard use the equipment also requires certification by a whole further range of classification organisations, like DNV GL, Lloyd’s, Bureau Veritas, MLIT Japan, and American Bureau of Shipping. Some tanker operators also require hazardous area approvals, i.e. to Zone 1 ATEX standards in Europe: Optimarin have supplied 10 such systems for the Turkish tanker fleet of Atlantis Tankers, which are designed for the transport of IMO II classified chemical cargoes.

Suppliers and users

Optimarin publish their existing major customers as comprising Saga Shipholding, MOL, Grieg Shipping Group, Gulf Offshore, Farstad Shipping, NYK, Nor Line and Evergreen Marine Corp. Since that initial installation in 2000, Optimarin have sold over 350 units, with 270 already installed. Optimarin in March announced a fleet agreement with UK shipowner and management company Carisbrook, which has the potential to cover retrofits across their entire fleet of 46 bulk and multi-purpose vessels.

Alfa Laval do not publish a customer list nor figures for the total number of their systems installed, but a PR from September 2015 discussed an Asian based shipping line placing an order for 33 systems. Another user has been quoted as MSC Containers.

Ballast water treatment retrofit work has been a major activity for Goltens Green Technologies (www.Goltens.com), a marine engineering contractor, who have already installed over 100 systems, from a current order book of 163. They supply systems from many manufacturers, listed as Optimarin, Bio-UV, Headway, Severn Trent DeNora, Alfa Laval, Auramarine, NK, Hyde Marine and Wärtsilä. Like Alfa Laval, Goltens are also involved in the supply and installation of other shipborne equipment required by and subject to environmental legislation, like SOx and NOx effluent control.

Whilst the retrofit market is important, the new build market is more significant, and obviously supplier attention is concentrated on the shipbuilders of South Korea.

© Nick Denbow, Processingtalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Fines for oil and gas accidents, in the US and Scotland

There is a commonly held belief that US Courts award larger monetary fines and penalties than European Courts. This perhaps can be tested by some recent comparisons. BP paid $18.7Bn in fines to the US Government after the Macondo blowout in 2010, after already having paid $42Bn in the settlement of criminal and civil suits, and trust fund payments. The blast killed 11 people and discharged 686,000 tonnes of oil into the sea.

The Total Elgin blow-out

In the UK, Total E+P experienced a blow-out on the Elgin offshore platform in 2012, which caused considerable inconvenience to neighbouring offshore operators, where production and other drilling work had to be suspended. The high pressure natural gas leak continued for 51 days. The accident led to a total discharge of 6000 tonnes of gas and condensate into the atmosphere. Closing the well down cost Total around $127m, but also they lost production output from the Elgin-Franklin project for around a year.

Last year the Scottish Courts fined Total E+P $1.67million for the mistakes that led to the discharge and pollution. This makes the Scottish fine per tonne of gas discharge on Total around 1% of the US fine imposed on BP, per tonne of oil discharge. Is this factor a measure of the difference between oil and gas, or the difference between the Courts?

What does this mean for SoCalGas?

Southern California Gas has currently a problem with a major gas leak from the Aliso Canyon gas storage well, which is an abandoned oil well used to store natural gas. This blew in October last year, and is on schedule to be stopped by the end of March. The Californian Air Resources Board has monitored the leak rates, which have now reduced significantly, as the reservoir empties. They suggest the discharge to date has been 83,000 tonnes of methane, also suggesting this is 2.1m metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

On the basis of a Scottish Court fine, pro-rata for the discharge of 83,000 tonnes, SoCalGas would face a fine of $23m, if it were based in Scotland. If the US Courts treat a gas discharge in the same way as an oil discharge, then following the BP example, the fine will be 100x greater, or around $2Bn. I think it is more likely that US Courts, even with their normal high value fines, will view air pollution and global warming as far less significant than oil pollution and damage to their local sea environment and beaches. We will wait for some years to see what the fine will be.

Feb 10: UK Courts fine ConocoPhillips

February 10th: Another UK Court ruling relates to ConocoPhillips, who have been fined GBP3m ($4.5m approx) over three dangerous gas releases on the Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System (LOGGS) between 30 November and 1 December 2012. In the first incident 603Kg of hydrocarbon gas was released.

The fine was related more to the lack of proper procedures and danger posed by the release, to the offshore workers, than the environmental damage.

References

For the SoCalGas leak information website, see www.AlisoUpdates.com.

For the Californian ARB website: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/aliso_canyon_natural_gas_leak.htm

For the original INSIDER comment on this topic, see https://nickdenbow.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/us-climate-change-contribution/

(c) Nick Denbow – Processingtalk.info