Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thermal Mass Flow Measurement of Tank Blanketing Gas

thermal dispersion mass flow meter insertion type
Insertion style thermal mass flow meter can measure
low flow rates of gas for tank blanketing.
Courtesy Magnetrol
Closed liquid tanks and other vessels contain two substances, liquid and not liquid. The liquid, in this case, is the subject material of a process. The "not liquid" is whatever fills the space not filled by the subject liquid. There are many cases where the process, the subject liquid, and safety are best served by filling the space with a known gas. There may be concerns about ignition of the vapor from the liquid, reactivity of the liquid with oxygen, or a wide range of other issues that call for filling the tank space with a known gas.

Nitrogen is a commonly employed gas for tank blanketing. It is comparatively inexpensive and widely available. It can inhibit combustion by displacing atmospheric oxygen and is not reactive with most industrial process chemicals.

Vessels with rapidly changing levels, or those of very large size, will require larger available flow capacity of blanketing gas to maintain the desired conditions within the tank. There are regulating valves designed specifically for tank blanketing operations. Vents intended for use in the same application are also commercially available.

Monitoring tank liquid level and gas flow are part of best practices for a tank blanketing operation. Confirming that gas flow rate is commensurate with the requirements for current tank level confirms proper operation. Too high a flow rate could indicate a leak or malfunction of a blanketing system component. It may also be useful to totalize gas flow for use in operational planning.

Thermal insertion flow meters are suitable for measuring the wide range of gas flow rates employed in tank blanketing applications. The instruments are available for insertion installation, as shown in the image near the top of this article, or as inline units. Either configuration delivers accurate measurement with no moving parts, a high turndown ratio, and minimal maintenance requirement.

Share your tank blanketing requirements and challenges with process measurement and control specialists, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product appliction expertise to develop effective solutions.