Flow Charts New Waters

Flowmeters, Controllers and Their Supporting Components and Software Are Adding New Functions That Are Allowing Them to Take On Some New and Unusual Tasks and Applications

By Jim Montague

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It shouldn't be surprising, but adding innovations and new capabilities to familiar technologies can make them show up in some unexpected places. For instance, most of the basic parameters of flow sensing and control are well known, but continual advances in flow conditioning and management are enabling them to be implemented in some unusual applications and settings, and be applied by users that hadn't considering using them before or couldn't afford them.

For example, while it might be surprising to see a bunch of Coriolis flowmeters sprouting on top of a filling machine, that's exactly what GF S.p.A. in Parma, Italy, did recently to reduce filling times, improve accuracy and repeatability, and enable tighter filling tolerances on its advanced filling equipment (Figure 1). GF's filling machines are used in pharmaceutical, food and medical applications to precisely measure compounds for injections, infusions, ophthalmic preparations, syrups and detergent solutions.

GF previously used filling methods based on time-pressure instruments, as well as piston-syringe and peristaltic (roller type) pumps, on machines for its pharmaceutical customers. Besides seeking to improve filling speed and accuracy, GF also wanted to enable users to change media without replacing the measuring instrument, and enable in-line sterilization without disassembling the machine, according to Marco Serventi, GF's sales manager. GF met its goals by using Micro Motion Elite and H-Series flowmeters and Model FMT filling mass transmitters from Emerson Process Management. Also, the rangeability of these Coriolis flowmeters allows different media in the range of 0.5 g to 5 kg to be dispensed without changing mechanical components.

Read Also: The Holy Grail in Coriolis Flowmeters

"We were able to improve system response time and reduce batch cycle times by taking advantage of integrated valve control from the transmitter, rather than the traditional pulse output set up through a PLC," explains Serventi. "The reliability and accurate results provided by the Micro Motion instruments have now been validated by GF customers over a number of successful applications."

Nuclear and Underwater

Likewise, NRG Laboratory's facility in the Netherlands makes nuclear medical isotopes and tests materials for nuclear power plants. It uses flow metering to measure its nuclear laboratory and reactor's basin cooling system, which uses a medium called "demiwater."

When its old vortex flowmeter wore out and a replacement wasn't available, NRG Lab began searching for a substitute with long-life electronics, low maintenance costs, small footprint, good underwater performance and the ability to withstand radiation. Eventually, NRG Lab settled on McCrometer's differential pressure V-Cone flowmeter with built-in flow conditioning for accuracy to +0.5% of the flow rate with +0.1 repeatability. It suits tight retrofit installations because it only requires a minimal 0-3 pipe diameters upstream and 0-1 diameters downstream.

NRG Lab reports its V-Cone flowmeter performs better than its former vortex flowmeter, requires no maintenance such as changing cables, and enhances safety by avoiding having any electronics near the reactor vessel.

Aiding Lubrication Applications 

To help give its new lubricant bottom-loading bay more efficient and safer driver-initiated loading, Shell Lubricant Center at Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, U.K., recently deployed 10 Promass 83F Coriolis mass flowmeters from Endress+Hauser. The flowmeters use Profibus DP communications, and this provides added density and temperature data, reduces cabling and I/O requirements, and links seamlessly with Shell's inventory control system. Because Shell's tankers load according to volume, knowing product density is crucial due to changes cause by temperature fluctuations.

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