Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hile Controls of Alabama Expands Product Offering With HART Communicator



Hile Controls of Alabama has complemented and expanded its process measurement and control offering with the ProComSol line of HART communications software.

The HART communications software from ProComSol is based on the SDC-625 software from the HART Communication Foundation. Since its release in 2007, the software has developed into a full featured, stable, and reliable platform through the open source development process. Years of in-field use and user feedback are incorporated into the current version that provides full configuration saving and download. The video provides an overview of the ease of use and functionality of the package for any facility utilizing HART enabled devices.

More information is available from process control experts. Share your process measurement and control challenges. Combine your own knowledge and experience with the product application expertise of a specialist to develop effective solutions.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey Part 3

water with bubbles
Water contains more than H2O
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. 

Share your water quality analysis challenges with process analytics specialists, combining your own unique knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey (Part 2)

aerial view of sewage water treatment plant
Sewage treatment is but one area where
water quality measurements are important
It would be difficult to understate the role and importance of water in industrial processing, even our own biological existence. In the first installment of this series, the roles of dissolved oxygen and chlorides were covered. 

Continuing the examination of water quality monitoring in municipal and industrial processes, another key variable which requires monitoring for industrial water use is sulfate. Sulfate is a combination of sulfur and oxygen, salts of sulfuric acid. Similarly to chlorides, they can impact water utilization processes due to their capability for corrosion. The power generation industry is particularly attuned to the role of sulfates in their steam cycle, as should be any boiler operator. Minerals can concentrate in steam drums and accelerate corrosion. Thanks to advancements in monitoring technology, instruments are available which monitor for both chlorides (covered in the previous installment in this series) and sulfates with minimal supervision needed by the operator, ensuring accurate detection of constituent levels outside of an acceptable range. Ionic separation technologies precisely appraise the amount of sulfate ions in the stream, allowing for continuous evaluation and for corrective action to be taken early-on, avoiding expensive repairs and downtime. 

Another substance worthy of measurement and monitoring in process water is sodium. Pure water production equipment, specifically cation exchange units, can be performance monitored with an online sodium analyzer. Output from the cation bed containing sodium, an indication of deteriorating performance, can be diverted and the bed regenerated. Steam production and power generation operations also benefit from sodium monitoring in an effort to combat corrosion in turbines, steam tubes, and other components. Sodium analyzers are very sensitive, able to detect trace levels. 

Ammonia is comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen and, while colorless, carries a distinct odor. Industries such as agriculture utilize ammonia for fertilizing purposes, and many other specializations, including food processing, chemical synthesis, and metal finishing, utilize ammonia for their procedural and product-oriented needs. An essential understanding of ammonia, however, includes the fact that the chemical is deadly to many forms of aquatic life. Removing ammonia from industrial wastewater is a processing burden of many industries due to the environmental toxicity. 

Methods for removing ammonia from wastewater include a biological treatment method called ‘conventional activated sludge’, aeration, sequencing batch reactor, and ion exchange. Several methods exist for in-line or sample based measurement of ammonia concentration in water. Each has particular procedures, dependencies, and limitations which must be considered for each application in order to put the most useful measurement method into operation. 

As water is an essential part of almost every facet of human endeavor and the environment in which we all dwell, the study and application of related analytics is an important component of many water based processes. The variety of compounds which can be considered contaminants or harmful elements when dissolved or contained in water presents multiple challenges for engineers and process operators. Share your water quality analysis and monitoring challenges with a process measurement expert, combining your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey (Part 1)

water treatment plant sewage treatment plant
Water treatment plant
Of all the raw materials available for human consumption – aside from the air we breathe – the most vital component of life on earth is water. In addition to the global need for humans to drink water in order to survive, the use of water is essential in a myriad of industries relating to process control. Whether the goal is the production or monitoring of pure water for industrial use, or the processing of wastewater, the ability to measure the presence and level of certain chemical constituents of water is necessary for success.

In order to use water properly, industrial professionals combine state of the art analyzers with technical expertise to evaluate water quality for use or disposal. Two essential values of process control are ensuring elements of a control system are accurate and secure, and, furthermore, that they are accurate and secure for each product every time. By properly vetting water in industry, engineers and other personnel in fields such as pharmaceuticals, chemical, food & beverage, brewing, power, and microelectronics are able to maintain standards of production excellence and conform with regulatory requirements related to water quality.

The amount of dissolved oxygen present in water can correlate with the degree of movement at an air-water interface, also being impacted by pressure, temperature, and salinity. Excessive or deficient dissolved oxygen levels in industrial process waters may have an impact on process performance or end product quality. Likely, the most common application for dissolved oxygen measurement is in the evaluation of wastewater for biological oxygen demand. The primary function of dissolved oxygen in wastewater is to enable and enhance the oxidation of organic material by aerobic bacteria, a necessary step in treatment.

To measure dissolved oxygen, specialized sensors and companion instruments are employed that require careful maintenance and trained technical operators. The level of measurement precision varies depending on the industry employing the technology, with numerous applications also being found in the food & beverage and pharmaceutical industries. In-line continuous measurement is used in wastewater processing to determine if the dissolved oxygen remains in a range that supports the bacteria necessary for biodegradation.

Chloride concentration in wastewater is strictly regulated. Industrial and commercial operation effluent can be regulated with respect to allowable chloride content. While commonly found in both streams and wastewater, chlorides, in large amounts, can present challenges to water utilization or processing facilities. Chloride levels impact corrosion, conductivity, and taste (for industries in which such a variable is paramount). In a process system, having an essential component marred due to elevated quantities of a substance could reverberate into any end-product being manufactured. Chloride analyzers, some of which can also detect and monitor other water characteristics, serve as important tools for water consuming facilities to meet regulatory standards for effluent discharge or internal quality standards for recycling.

There are other constituents of what we refer to as “water” that are subject to measurement and monitoring for a range of institutional, industrial, and municipal applications. Those will be explored in the next part of this article series. Share your analytical measurement challenges with process measurement experts, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Diaphragm Seals Protect Pressure Measurement Instruments

diaphragm seal for pressure gauge or transmitter
Diaphragm Seal
Courtesy Wika
Pressure measurement is a common element of industrial operations or control systems. Fluid processing can often involve media that is potentially harmful to pressure sensing devices. The media may be corrosive to the sensor material, or other media properties may impact the performance or usable life of the instrument. In process control environments, diaphragm seals play a role in protecting items like pressure sensors from damage by process fluids. The diaphragm seal is a flexible membrane that seals across the connecting path to a sensor and isolates the sensor from the process media. System pressure crosses the barrier without inhibition, enabling accurate measurement, but the process fluid does not. Typical materials composing diaphragm seals are elastomers, with a wide variety of specific materials available to accommodate almost every application.

In the operating principle of the diaphragm seal, the sealed chamber created between the diaphragm and the instrument is filled with an appropriate fluid, allowing for the transfer of pressure from the process media to the protected sensor. The seals are attached to the process by threaded, open flange, sanitary, or other connections. Diaphragm seals are sometimes referred to as chemical seals or gauge guards. Stainless steel, Hastelloy, Monel, Inconel, and titanium are used in high pressure environments, and some materials are known to work better when paired with certain chemicals.

Sanitary processes, such as food, beverage, and pharmaceuticals, use diaphragm seals to prevent the accumulation of process fluid in pressure ports, a possible source of contamination. If such a buildup were to occur, such as milk invading and lodging in a port on a pressure gauge, the resulting contamination compromises the quality and purity of successive batches. Extremely pure process fluids, like ultra-pure water, could be contaminated by the metal surface of a process sensor. Some pneumatic systems rely on the elimination of even the smallest pressure fluctuations, and diaphragm seals prevent those by ensuring the separation of the process materials from the sensors.

Diaphragm seals are not without some application concerns, and devices are now built to address and counter many potential issues related to the use of diaphragm seals with process monitoring instruments and equipment. Products seek to eliminate any and all dead space, allow for continuous process flow, and are self-cleaning thanks to continuous flow design. Some high pressure seals come equipped with anti-clogging features, accomplished by the elimination of internal cavities while protecting gauges. Multi-purpose seals reduce temperature influence and improve instrument performance while pinpointing and diffusing areas of high stress. These pre-emptive measures result in longer instrument life-cycles and improved performance while ensuring protection from corrosion.

There are numerous options and available diaphragm seal variants. Share your application specifics with a product specialist, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ultrasonic Flow Measurement Overview

clamp on ultrasonic flowmeter llow meter
Clamp-on ultrasonic flow meter does not contact
process media
Courtesy Micronics
Ultrasonic flow meters measure, via sound waves inaudible to humans, the velocity of fluid flowing through a conduit. The conduit can be a recognizable closed piping run, or open channels, flumes, or chutes. The technology is predominantly applied to liquids and gases.

There are three types of ultrasonic flow meters, differentiated by their means of measurement. An open channel flow meter derives liquid depth by computing geometrical distance, combining it with a velocity measurement and known dimensional properties of a flume or other channel. A Doppler shift flow meter reflects ultrasonic energy off sonically reflective materials and measures the frequency shift between emission and reflection to derive a fluid velocity measurement. The contrapropogating transit-time flow meter, more recognizably, the transmission flow meter. The transmission flow meter has two versions: the in-line and the clamp-on. The in-line configuration is intrusive, with flow meter hardware extending into and exposed to the measured media. A clamp-on style ultrasonic flow meter resides on the outside of the pipe, emitting and receiving the ultrasonic pulses through the pipe wall. These process measurement tools, using ultrasound technology, have the ability to measure fluid velocity and calculate volumetric, mass, and totalized flow. The use of ultrasonic flow measurement is prevalent in the oil and gas, nuclear, wastewater, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries. It is also employed in energy management systems as a means to measure energy demand.

For intrusive flow meters, sensors are fitted opposite one another and alternate bouncing ultrasonic signals back and forth in the pipe, in an almost tennis-like format. In an elementary explanation, by increasing the number of sensors, engineers are able to decipher flow proportions through calculations of velocity between sensory transmissions; thereby, the flow volume can be computed.

For externally mounted flow meters, a clamp-on device affixes the flow meter measurement elements to the pipe. One special characteristic of clamp-on flow meters is the ability to transmit ultrasonic signals through piping up to four meters in diameter, making them suitable for application in very large systems such as those found in hydroelectric or wastewater installations. The clamp-on arrangement also facilitates addition of a flow measurement point to an existing system without process interruption.

The technology is pervasive in the processing industries, having its particular niche of applications where it excels. Proper installation is a key element in producing reliable and consistent results. Ultrasonic energy flow technology is used for custody transfer of natural gases and petroleum liquids. Custody transfer usually entails following industry, national, and government standards and regulations. Other popular applications include compressed air system monitoring and energy usage metering.

Ultrasonic flow meters, with no moving parts, are comparatively low maintenance and self-diagnosing. Temperature and pressure measurements are needed to calculate mass flow of gases. When measuring liquid mass flow in pipes, it is generally necessary for the pipe cross section to be media filled in order to obtain reliable results.

Whatever your flow measurement challenge, share it with a process measurement specialist. Combine your process knowledge with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hile Controls of Alabama - Video

We made this short video to illustrate the markets and industries we serve. Please check it out and be sure and contact Hile Alabama and share your process control, instrumentation, and automation challenges with experts. Let's combine your process knowledge and experience with our product application expertise to formulate and effective solution.