Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Storage and Process Tanks

industrial sanitary stainless steel process tanks
Industrial process tanks use measurement instruments
to reveal the nature of their contents.
Storage and process tanks are employed throughout a broad range of industrial, research, and commercial applications. The design and construction of the vessels varies widely, but there are a few measurement and control functions common to almost all applications. Whether general purpose or very specialized, a process or facility operator with a tank will need to know…
  • Nature of the contents. What is in the tank.
  • Quantity of material in the tank. This can be expressed as weight, mass, level or volume.
  • Condition of the material in the tank. This can include temperature, pressure, or a range of other specific attributes which may have a bearing on the process or operation for which the material is to be used or applied.
Instrumentation and fixtures of varying styles and types are used to provide information relating to the three areas noted above. A broad range of tank level measurement techniques and instruments are employed to quantify tank contents. Specialized sensors can be used to measure conductivity, pH, and a host of other material aspects.

Industrial storage tanks are used as containers for everything from water to fuels to chemicals. Contents may be pressurized or blanketed with ignition suppressing gases, such as nitrogen. The construction of a process tank must meet requirements for safety and functionality related to its specific use. Well known commercial applications include those in food, beverage, and dairy sectors. Every industrial or commercial use will have standards for physical safety, product safety and quality, as well as requirements for effective integration into whatever system the application presents.

Mixing tanks perform a different function in the control process as opposed to storage tanks. Mix tanks are involved in batching and blending processes. Made of glass, plastic, sturdy rubber, or stainless steel, mixing tanks blend different substances together to create materials for production. The refined mixing process occurs as certain amounts of liquids are funneled into the tank from lines leading to the tank. The tanks may be provided with specialized fixtures or apparatus to facilitate the combining of constituent substances. Depending upon the application, the components may not all be liquid.

The term “tanks”, per se, encompasses practically an entire industry in itself. The variety of sizes, forms, materials, and accessory features is enormous. Share your tank instrumentation and measurement challenges with process measurement specialists, leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop an effective solution.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Comprehensive Planning for Heat Trace and Surface Heating Challenges

refinery with workers
Applications for process heating are numerous and varied,
found throughout industrial and commercial settings. 
Keeping process or inventory liquids from freezing, or becoming extremely viscous, can be an important part of a commercial or industrial operation. Freeze damage to equipment, piping, containers or their contents can result in a wide array of consequences, all of them likely to be negative.

Developing an overall plan for freeze protection can be advantageous to attacking each application on an independent basis.
  • Having a common vendor for all freeze protection equipment and supplies can help designers develop a knowledge base about how to meet application challenges with specific products, speeding implementation time. Service techs become familiar with applied products and methods, building their skills and efficiency at installing and maintaining applications throughout the facility.
  • Identify all locations where freeze protection is needed. Develop a baseline of the methods employed and equipment installed to meet the needs of each location. Good records form the basis for good maintenance and the ability to make decisions regarding the operation and performance of each system.
  • When selecting the products or methods to employ for freeze protection, consider the environment in which the hardware will be installed. Will it require protection from physical damage, chemical attack, or extreme weather. Is the installation space considered a hazardous zone, requiring special certifications for the heating equipment?
  • The availability and control of applied heat can also be important. Is there a need for the heating system to deliver highly variable amounts of heat across the range of possible operating scenarios, in order to avoid overheating the process or stored materials? How quickly will the system need to ramp up to the desired operating temperature or respond to changes in an operating process?
These questions, and probably others specifically related to your application, should be part of the consideration for freeze protection applications. Enlisting the cooperation of a process heat specialist can apply leverage to your own process knowledge and experience to develop an effective solution to each challenge.

Check this link and request a copy of the Freeze Protection Planning Guide.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Possible vs. The Probable

Overhead view of the Arkema plant in Corsby, Texas.
Image from United States Chemcial Safety Board 
Process stakeholders have concerns and responsibilities regarding operational safety, environmental impact, profitability, and more. At almost every level, the risk of loss, damage, or disaster is scrutinized and evaluated. Steps may be taken to prevent or reduce the impact of some negative event. Other risk reduction methods might be put into play to provide relief from losses suffered. Whatever the case, it is safe to say that much industrial effort is invested in predicting a broad range of "what if" scenarios.

The recent events at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas bring to light the limitations we, as process operators of any type, may put on our own thinking and actions. Though investment was made, and was ongoing, to improve aspects of the plant, the operation was still brought to a standstill and a fire ensued that brought the involvement of the US Chemical Safety Board. This resulted because natural events that were likely deemed impossible became reality, with insufficient contingency operations in place to handle the situation.

What is important about the event is what we can all learn from it, what we can use to modify and improve our own methods of evaluating risk and implementing protections to prevent loss and damage. Essentially, the plant was overwhelmed by storm induced flooding that was unprecedented. Grid and backup power sources were rendered inoperable and material that required refrigeration to maintain a safe condition no longer was provided with the needed cold storage environment.

arkema chemical plant timeline hurricane harvey US chemical safety board
Timeline of events related to a fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, TX
Image is from US Chemical Safety Board 
The relationships between an operation and its surrounding environment are not static. The probability of any event occurring is never zero. When probabilities are perceived as being very small, they might be ignored, but low probability events can and do eventually become part of the plant environment. Developing strong contingency plans and incorporating design elements into an operation that account for events that seem impossible, but are actually of very low probability, is a good industrial practice that hardens the process or facility against disaster.

Share and discuss your concerns and plans with process instrumentation and control specialists, leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their resources to develop a better solution.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Gas and Flame Detectors for Industrial Installations

flame detector and fixed gas detector for industrial safety
Flame detector and fixed hazardous gas monitoring units
Image courtesy SMC (Sierra Monitor Corporation)
The demand for increased levels of safety in the workplace continues to expand, with calls for better protection for workers, the plant, the environment, and surrounding communities all weighing on operators to look for ways to reduce risk. Industrial plants, especially those employing hazardous or flammable materials, can have very high risk levels. Reducing the probability of accident or failure can bring a very substantial benefit for long term operation.

Sierra Monitor Corporation manufactures hazardous gas and flame detection equipment for application in commercial and industrial environments. Their sensors and stations enable continuous monitoring of plant conditions and early warning of potentially dangerous conditions. The application possibilities range through every industry.

The document included below provides an overview of the company's products and their potential application. Share your hazardous gas and flame detection monitoring challenges with process measurement specialists, leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop a safer solution for your facility.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Differential Pressure Gauge for Level Indication on Liquefied Gas Tanks

differential pressure gauge for cryo tank level indication
A differential pressure gauge can be used to
indicate liquid level in tanks of liquefied gas
Image courtesy Wika
Wika, globally recognized leader and innovator in the design and manufacture of pressure and temperature gauges, provides an enormous number of variants and models of its basic pressure gauge. Many of the gauges are targeted at specific applications, and incorporate a range of design and operational features to accommodate the needs of those applications.

The Cryo Gauge is designed to provide indication of the level of liquid in liquefied gas tanks, but can also serve in some other related applications. For cryo tank applications, several available measuring cells provide operating ranges that cover the most commonly used tank sizes and gas types. An optional manifold with a separate pressure gauge provides connectivity and an indication of working pressure, all in one compact station. Options for analog output, level switches, and remote data transfer are part of the flexible configuration.

More detail on the Cryo Gauge is provided in the datasheet included below. Whatever the application, share your pressure measurement challenges with process measurement experts, leveraging your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.



Thursday, November 2, 2017

Award Winning Flow Measurement Instrument

ultrasonic flow meter
Flexim F704 Ultrasonic Flow Meter
Image Courtesy Flexim
Flow Control Magazine, which targets solutions for fluid movement, measurement and containment, handed out its annual Innovation Awards recently. Among those receiving honorable mention was Flexim Americas Corporation, for the Fluxus Cryo that provides noninvasive measurement of cryogenic fluids. Special design adaptations prevent ice build up on the measurement apparatus that that can plague other technologies.

Ultrasonic flow measurement offers some distinct advantages over other available methods, with high accuracy, no intrusion into the media, and no moving parts. While the award was specifically for a cryogenic application, Flexim ultrasonic flow measurement instruments are available for an extensive array of applications.

For more information, share your flow measurement requirements and challenges with process instrumentation experts, leveraging your own process knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Simple Tech Drives Reliable Remote Power Unit

remote power unit driven by Stirling engine
The Qnergy remote power unit utilizes a simple
Stirling engine to generate electric power.
Image courtesy Qnergy
M.S. Jacobs and Associates handles the Qnergy line of remote power units, providing electric power to off-grid locations or standing as a backup power source for critical operations. Wherever backup or independent source electric power is needed, Qnergy remote power units can serve as a reliable and economical power source, requiring little to no maintenance.

The technology under the hood in the Qnergy power units is a Stirling engine, adapted and improved by decades of innovation. The engine derives energy input via external combustion, enabling the use of a variety of fuels.
  • Natural gas
  • Propane
  • Ethane
  • Biogas
  • And others
The Stirling engine utilizes a floating piston with no contact points to wear. The system requires no lubrication or regular maintenance, very positive attributes for a remote power unit. Share your project requirements and challenges with application specialists, combining your own knowledge and experience with their product application expertise to develop effective solutions.