Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hybrid Solar TEG Power Systems

hybrid solar PV photovoltaic thermoelectric generator TEG power system
Hybrid system shown in remote installation
Courtesy Gentherm Global Power Technologies
There are remotely located instruments and equipment throughout the world in places without available grid power. A suitable and reliable means to provide electric power is required as a standalone system for each of these instances. Photovoltaics is an obvious choice for power source, but there is another option that may provide substantial benefit for many installations.

A hybrid solar TEG (thermoelectric generator) can overcome some of the shortcomings of a pure PV system by delivering battery charging current during conditions when solar generated power is insufficient. The TEG uses heat from burning fuel to produce electric power, and can deliver charging current when the PV portion of the system fails to provide sufficient output.

  • Extended periods of bad weather. While this scenario can be compensated for with a larger battery array, there is still a limit to the performance period. Larger battery banks increase unit cost, size and weight.
  • Extreme low temperature. Battery capacity decreases during cold weather, requiring a larger battery array to provide design power output and reserve.
  • Low solar exposure during certain times of the year, requiring more solar panels to accomodate the system power requirements during times of reduced sunlight. This increases unit size and capital cost.

Critical power systems must be designed to deliver sufficient power under all environmental conditions that can be experienced at the installation site. This drives pure PV system designers to substantially oversize panel and battery arrays to assure power delivery throughout an entire year. A hybrid solar TEG system does not need to have the enormous headroom built into the design that a pure PV does. The TEG can produce power at a known rate, regardless of the surrounding environmental conditions. The potential benefits from the hybrid power system include: 

  • Reduction in solar panel array size and cost
  • Lower battery count, with reduction in capital cost, replacement cost, unit size and weight
  • Longer battery life
  • Less on-site fuel vs. a conventional fuel-based system
  • No more than once-per-year maintenance visits
  • Increased reliability over a pure PV installation

Share your remote installation power requirements and challenges with a product application specialist and bring the benefits of a hybrid solar TEG power system to your operation.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Switching Inductive Loads With Relays and Solid State Devices in Process Control

control panel interior process automation and control panel
Switching devices must be properly protected for longevity
We connect a lot of black boxes together in our control systems, not really knowing what goes on inside. There is a basic understanding of function, but maybe not enough knowledge to thoroughly assess all aspects of integrating a device into a train of control system components. We range from novice to seasoned expert, so Acromag, manufacturer and global supplier of I/O devices for process control, has provided a useful application note regarding the protection of devices employed to switch inductive loads.

The application paper provides a good explanation of what an inductive load is, and how it can impact the performance and longevity of a switching device. The document further explains how to offset the potentially damaging impact of an inductive load on a connected switching device, with specific examples and recommendations on how to put the protective measures in place. It is useful information.

The paper is provided below. Share your I/O and other process measurement and control challenges with application specialists, combining your own process knowledge with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Selecting the Right Temperature, Pressure, or Differential Pressure Switch

industrial temperature switch pressure switch differential pressure switch
Temperature, pressure, and differential pressure switches come in a wide variety of configurations
Courtesy Ashcroft
Industrial process control applications present dynamic and varied requirements for measuring, monitoring and control. Each point calls for specific evaluation of the information needed from the process point for use in monitoring process performance, or control to be applied at the process point to regulate an outcome. Sometimes, a continuous analog signal is needed to provide indication across a range of values. Other times, it is only necessary to have notification of, or take action when, a certain temperature or pressure related event occurs. In those cases, a simple and reliable device can adequately meet the project requirements.

Temperature, pressure, and differential pressure switches connect to a process and change their switch position when a setpoint condition is reached. The are simple to understand, easy to install, low in cost, and require little maintenance of attention. The switches are available in an extensive array of configurations, with options to fill out almost any application requirement.

Ashcroft, global supplier of temperature and pressure switches, has produced a simplified guide that enables a designer or specifier to quickly focus their search on the right product. It is provided below for your use. Alternately, you can always share your process measurement and control requirements and challenges with product application specialists, combining your own process knowledge with their product expertise to develop effective solutions.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CSB Case Study of Industrial Plant Heat Exchanger Explosion

heat exchangers at industrial plant
Two heat exchangers at chemical plant
Industrial accidents, whether minor or catastrophic, can serve as sources of learning when analyzed and studied. Operators, owners, and technicians involved with industrial chemical operations have a degree of moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to conduct work in a reasonably and predictably safe manner without endangering personnel, property, or the environment. Part of a diligent safety culture should include reviewing industrial accidents at other facilities. There is much to learn from these unfortunate events, even when they happen in an industry that may seem somewhat removed from our own.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or CSB, is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents. Below, find one of their video reenactments and analysis of an explosion that occurred at a Louisiana chemical processing plant in 2013. A portion of the reenactment shows how a few seemingly innocuous oversights can combine with other unrecognized conditions that result in a major conflagration.

Check out the video and sharpen your sense of awareness for potential trouble spots in your own operation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Improved Level Measurement Contributes to Reduced Heat Rate in Steam Production

Power plant electrical generating plant
Minimizing heat rate and emissions for steam plants
Steam production is a costly operation in any facility, but is of paramount importance in power generation plants. The bottom line of a combustion based power generation facility is sensitive to the cost of input fuel. Measures that can be taken to reduce fuel input for a unit of power output (called heat rate) can translate directly into profitability. An additional benefit of reducing heat rate is a commensurate reduction in emissions.

A major contributor to heat rate reduction is the recovery of heat from the process and transference of that heat into the boiler feedwater. A sizable feedwater preheater of the shell and tube type is used to recover the heat. Shell and tube heat exchanger efficiency can be maximized with accurate control of liquid level.

Magnetrol, globally recognized leader in level measurement technology, makes the case for using guided wave radar level measurement technology as the most advantageous means for this application. The video below describes the process and how the guided wave radar level transmitter can provide the best performance.

Magnetrol has an information kit devoted to heat rate reduction. Share your steam system and level measurement challenges with a product specialist, and ask how you can get the Heat Rate Reduction Kit. Combining your facility and process knowledge with the product application expertise of a specialist will result in effective solutions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

M.S. Jacobs & Associates - Equipment Engineers

aerial view wastewater treatment plant settling ponds
Wastewater treatment is one of the many industrial sectors
served by M.S. Jacobs
M.S. Jacobs and Associates has been a leading manufacturer's representative and distributor of industrial instrumentation and controls since 1945. Expanding from its original focus on the steel industry, MS Jacobs services and supplies products in all major industrial markets, including power generation, chemical processing, pulp and paper, oil and gas production, water and wastewater treatment, and nuclear power generation.

The company's longevity and dedication to the industrial market has resulted in a broad offering of superior quality products for flow, level, pressure, and temperature measurement, as well as filtration products and valves. Everyone at MS Jacobs takes pride in the company's ability to solve tough applications and provide exceptional customer service with a team of trained outside sales engineers and inside customer service representatives.

MS Jacobs' Pittsburgh service center provides instrument calibration and repair for MSJ's complete line of products, as well as those of other manufacturers. The company carries factory authorization for repair of numerous manufacturers' industrial process instrumentation products. The service center also provides custom assembly of instruments and other gear to meet customer requirements. Completed assemblies are tested and certified prior to shipment.

Reach out to MS Jacobs & Associates for the products and services that move your process instrumentation and control projects toward a successful completion.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Self-Regulating Heat Trace for Freeze Protection

self-regulating heat cable heat trace
Example of self-regulating heating cable
Courtesy BriskHeat
Freeze protection is probably the most obvious application range for heat trace tape and cable. The applications are vast in number throughout the geographic region where real winter comes every year. Pipes, valves, tanks, vessels, conveyors and other equipment are all vulnerable to excessively cold conditions. Properly configured heating cable, blankets, or other shapes can reduce the risk of freezing liquids and keep protected items at safe operating temperatures.

Though freeze protection heating equipment and materials are available in many shapes, forms, and materials, this article will focus on self-regulating heating cable.

There are two basic types of heating cable. 


Constant wattage cable provides continuous full output whenever energized. It's application requires some means of limiting the temperature of the heated object. This can be a thermostat, or some other temperature controller and sensor combination. This simple on/off control is effective in many cases. More sophisticated arrangements can be accomplished with heater power controllers and a closed loop control system. The objective is to apply only as much heat (and energy) as necessary to prevent freezing or other cold induced undesirable conditions.

Self-regulating cable is designed and fabricated in a manner that reduces the heat output of the cable as its temperature increases, providing a built-in means of limiting applied heat without the need for any other means of control. Properly selected and installed heat cable of the self-regulating type will apply only the heat energy needed to maintain the desired condition. No other devices are required.

There are many heating solutions available for freeze protection to suit any application. Share your process heating and freeze protection challenges with product application specialists, combining your process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.