Shutterstock 1843053757 63cb1c24a998b

Processing operations get a boost from non-contacting radar

Jan. 27, 2023
Emerson's Sara Anderberg discusses the opportunities for non-contacting radar level measurement.

Non-contacting radar technology has opened a new world of opportunity for the industrial sector. The process industry is a wide range of industries and applications, including upstream oil and gas, refining, petrochemical and chemical industries.

A far cry from the days of mechanical floats, the more complex nature of chemicals makes non-contacting technology essential. In addition, the same logistical benefits of non-contacting radar technology—originally invented for military uses—for moving product around a fast-moving supply chain exists for other materials just as was deemed vital for oil tankers in the 1970s, when radar technology was adapted from military uses to fit shipping needs.

“You can have corrosive media in your tank, sticky media, and more nasty products that you don’t want to get in contact with,” says Sara Anderberg, manager, solutions management at Emerson. “There is a great fit for non-contacting radar. You can also have mixing tanks. Let’s say if you have something moving in your tank like agitators, you probably cannot place a probe in there. So, there is a great opportunity for non-contacting radar.”

Developing the technique

Taking the mechanics out of the equation and placing the heavy workload on electronics, often with a two-wire bus, Emerson has continued to refine and develop its technology. In the process industry, it’s not only opened opportunities for new industries to take advantage of radar, but also for traditional industries to create more efficient operations.

“We also saw the need to help our customers within the process industry to be able to better control and optimize their processes, to help them understand what’s happening in their tank,” Anderberg says. As an example of how the technology has developed with the needs of industry, Anderberg points to the chemical industry, which prefers to operate with smaller tanks. “Now, we are also increasingly developing radars with a higher frequency that are a better fit for smaller tanks with more rapid fluid movement like batch processes,” she says.

She says non-contacting radar is ideal for the chemical industry due to the huge variety of tank sizes and applications. “Our non-contacting radar portfolio offers solutions to meet all our customer needs. Different applications require different solutions and we as the market leader have all of them to help customers with their applications.”

Anderberg says Emerson is on its sixth generation of frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar, which has strategically advanced through the years. “Earlier, the FMCW technology was more power consuming and four wires were needed. But with later platforms, we have a two-wire (loop-wired) powering it up,” she says. “Now, it is not as power hungry as it was before. We can use the power and get it down to the surface to get a more sensitive and reliable measurement.”

All of Emerson’s radars today have FMCW technology, since it provides a more reliable measurement.

A maturing technology

One of its newest generations of non-contacting radar is the Rosemount 3408 Radar Level Transmitter and the Rosemount 1208 Radar Level Transmitter, which are debuting this year. Both of these new products are examples of the maturing nature of the technology. “We have now been able to utilize radar on a chip, as we call it, where we have actually made it possible to have one chip creating a faster, more efficient processing signal instead of having three different chips with key functions,” Anderberg continues. “Instead of having three different chips with key functions, we now have one chip making a much faster and more efficient treatment of the signal.”

This type of advancement has made radar an even more productive and beneficial technology. As radar matures, the opportunities abound.

“Another great advantage with the non-contacting radar is the radar can measure through plastic. Imagine you have a plastic tank and so you don’t have to make a hole for fitting the instrument. You can measure through plastic tanks,” she says. “With all of those plastic tanks out there—particularly in chemical processing—we see great opportunity for this, let’s say, non-intrusive measurement.”

Maturity also translates into efficiency, which yields price efficiency. The cost of radar had made it unachievable for some customers in the past, but these days, radar has become more price competitive than legacy technologies, making it possible for customers outside of the traditional industries to consider its usage.

Bluetooth connectivity is frequently requested by users in order to make their daily tasks easier. “Two of our latest solutions, the Rosemount 3408 Level Transmitter and the Rosemount 1208 Radar Level Transmitter, are both equipped and offer Bluetooth enabled support,” Andergerg says.

She adds that Bluetooth-enabled devices bring safety to the operation. “Engineers don’t have to climb the tanks and be up on the tanks to read measurements out of the radar. You can be standing on the ground in a safe place doing the configuration, reading your level, just from your tablet or from your phone.”

About the Author

Len Vermillion | Editor in Chief

Len Vermillion is editor-in-chief of Control. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.