Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey Part 3

electric power plant
Water quality is of great concern to electric power generating
operations, as well as other industrial operations
What we know as “water” can consist of many non-H2O components in addition to pure water. This three part series has touched on some of the constituents of water that are of interest to various industrial processors. The first installment reviewed dissolved oxygen and chloride. The second article covered sulfates, sodium, and ammonia. 

To conclude the three part series on water quality analysis in process control related industrial applications we examine silica, another element which in sufficient quantities can become a confounding variable in water for industrial use. In natural settings, silica, or silicon dioxide, is a plentiful compound. Its presence in water provides a basis for some corrosion-inhibiting products, as well as conditioners and detergents. Problems arise, however, when high concentrates of silica complicate industrial processes which are not designed to accommodate elevated levels. Specifically, silica is capable of disrupting processes related to boilers and turbines. In environments involving high temperature, elevated pressure, or both, silica can form crystalline deposits on machinery surfaces. This inhibits the operation of turbines and also interferes with heat transfer. These deposits can result in many complications, ranging through process disruption, decreased efficiency, and resources being expended for repairs.

The silica content in water used in potentially affected processes needs to be sufficiently low in order to maintain rated function and performance. Silica analyzers provide continuous measurement and monitoring of silica levels. The analyzers detect and allow mitigation of silica in the initial stages of raw material acquisition or introduction to prevent undue disruption of the process. Additionally, a technique called power steam quality monitoring allows for the aforementioned turbine-specific inhibition – related to silica conglomerates reducing efficacy and physical movement – to be curtailed without much issue. The feedwater filtration couples with a low maintenance requirement, resulting in reduced downtime of analytic sequences and a bit of increased peace of mind for the technical operator.

While silica and the other compounds mentioned in this series are naturally occurring, the support systems in place to expertly control the quality of water is the most basic requirement for harvesting one of the earth’s most precious resources for use. As a matter of fact, the identification and control of compounds in water – both entering the industrial process and exiting the industrial process – demonstrates key tenets of process control fundamentals: precision, accuracy, durability, and technological excellence paired with ingenuity to create the best outcome not just one time, but each time.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Water Quality Analysis – Constituent Survey (Part 2)

industrial process water
Water is a big part of countless industrial operations, either as
an input, part of processing, or a waste product.
It would be difficult to understate the role and importance of water in industrial processing, even our own biological existence. In the first installment of this series, the roles of dissolved oxygen and chlorides were covered.

Continuing the examination of water quality monitoring in municipal and industrial processes, another key variable which requires monitoring for industrial water use is sulfate. Sulfate is a combination of sulfur and oxygen, salts of sulfuric acid. Similarly to chlorides, they can impact water utilization processes due to their capability for corrosion. The power generation industry is particularly attuned to the role of sulfates in their steam cycle, as should be any boiler operator. Minerals can concentrate in steam drums and accelerate corrosion. Thanks to advancements in monitoring technology, instruments are available which monitor for both chlorides (covered in the previous installment in this series) and sulfates with minimal supervision needed by the operator, ensuring accurate detection of constituent levels outside of an acceptable range. Ionic separation technologies precisely appraise the amount of sulfate ions in the stream, allowing for continuous evaluation and for corrective action to be taken early-on, avoiding expensive repairs and downtime. 

Another substance worthy of measurement and monitoring in process water is sodium. Pure water production equipment, specifically cation exchange units, can be performance monitored with an online sodium analyzer. Output from the cation bed containing sodium, an indication of deteriorating performance, can be diverted and the bed regenerated. Steam production and power generation operations also benefit from sodium monitoring in an effort to combat corrosion in turbines, steam tubes, and other components. Sodium analyzers are very sensitive, able to detect trace levels. 

Ammonia is comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen and, while colorless, carries a distinct odor. Industries such as agriculture utilize ammonia for fertilizing purposes, and many other specializations, including food processing, chemical synthesis, and metal finishing, utilize ammonia for their procedural and product-oriented needs. An essential understanding of ammonia, however, includes the fact that the chemical is deadly to many forms of aquatic life. Removing ammonia from industrial wastewater is a processing burden of many industries due to the environmental toxicity. 

Methods for removing ammonia from wastewater include a biological treatment method called ‘conventional activated sludge’, aeration, sequencing batch reactor, and ion exchange. Several methods exist for in-line or sample based measurement of ammonia concentration in water. Each has particular procedures, dependencies, and limitations which must be considered for each application in order to put the most useful measurement method into operation. 

As water is an essential part of almost every facet of human endeavor and the environment in which we all dwell, the study and application of related analytics is an important component of many water based processes. The variety of compounds which can be considered contaminants or harmful elements when dissolved or contained in water presents multiple challenges for engineers and process operators.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Water Quality - Constituents That Impact Industrial Operations (Part 1)

aerial view of sewage treatment plant
Sewage treatment plants are only one of many applications
where water quality is a concern.
Of all the raw materials available for human consumption – aside from the air we breathe – the most vital component of life on earth is water. In addition to the global need for humans to drink water in order to survive, the use of water is essential in a myriad of industries relating to process control. Whether the goal is the production or monitoring of pure water for industrial use, or the processing of wastewater, the ability to measure the presence and level of certain chemical constituents of water is necessary for success.

In order to use water properly, industrial professionals combine state of the art analyzers with technical expertise to evaluate water quality for use or disposal. Two essential values of process control are ensuring elements of a control system are accurate and secure, and, furthermore, that they are accurate and secure for each product every time. By properly vetting water in industry, engineers and other personnel in fields such as pharmaceuticals, chemical, food & beverage, brewing, power, and microelectronics are able to maintain standards of production excellence and conform with regulatory requirements related to water quality.

The amount of dissolved oxygen present in water can correlate with the degree of movement at an air-water interface, also being impacted by pressure, temperature, and salinity. Excessive or deficient dissolved oxygen levels in industrial process waters may have an impact on process performance or end product quality. Likely, the most common application for dissolved oxygen measurement is in the evaluation of wastewater for biological oxygen demand. The primary function of dissolved oxygen in wastewater is to enable and enhance the oxidation of organic material by aerobic bacteria, a necessary step in treatment.

To measure dissolved oxygen, specialized sensors and companion instruments are employed that require careful maintenance and trained technical operators. The level of measurement precision varies depending on the industry employing the technology, with numerous applications also being found in the food & beverage and pharmaceutical industries. In-line continuous measurement is used in wastewater processing to determine if the dissolved oxygen remains in a range that supports the bacteria necessary for biodegradation.

Chloride concentration in wastewater is strictly regulated. Industrial and commercial operation effluent can be regulated with respect to allowable chloride content. While commonly found in both streams and wastewater, chlorides, in large amounts, can present challenges to water utilization or processing facilities. Chloride levels impact corrosion, conductivity, and taste (for industries in which such a variable is paramount). In a process system, having an essential component marred due to elevated quantities of a substance could reverberate into any end-product being manufactured. Chloride analyzers, some of which can also detect and monitor other water characteristics, serve as important tools for water consuming facilities to meet regulatory standards for effluent discharge or internal quality standards for recycling.

There are other constituents of what we refer to as “water” that are subject to measurement and monitoring for a range of institutional, industrial, and municipal applications. Those will be explored in the next part of this article series.

Analynk Wireless manufactures wireless connectivity solutions for industrial applications and process control. Making cable free connections among process control equipment and instruments, across the room, across the property, across the globe.

Continuous Liquid Level Measurement Technologies Used in Industry

crude oil storage tanks
Process measurement connectivity with wireless technology
is suitable for almost any application 
Although continuous level measurement technologies have the ability to quantify applications for bulk solids, slurries, and granular materials, this article will focus on level measurement technologies applied to liquid level measurement utilized in process control. A distinction should be made between continuous level measurement and point level measurement. Point level measurement acts like a switch, changing state when a single level condition is achieved. Called “transmitters,” continuous liquid level measurement devices employ technologies ranging from hydrostatics to magnetostriction, providing uninterrupted signals that indicate the level of liquid in a vessel, tank, or other container.

Hydrostatic devices focus on the equilibrium of dynamic and static liquids. There are three main types of hydrostatic transmitters: 1) displacer, 2) bubbler, and 3) differential pressure.

The displacer transmitters utilize a float placed within the liquid container. With its buoyancy characterized to the liquid and the application, the float, a connecting stem, and a range spring or similar counterbalance represents the liquid level in terms of the movement of the displacer (float). The displacement, or movement, of the assembly is converted into an electric signal for use by the monitoring and control system.

Bubbler transmitters are used for processing vessels that operate at atmospheric pressure. This method introduces a purge gas or an inert gas, e.g. air or dry nitrogen, into a tube extending into the liquid vessel. Precise measurement of the pressure exerted on the gas in the dip tube by the liquid in the tank is used to determine the height of the liquid.

Differential pressure (DP) transmitters rely directly on, in a basic explanation, the pressure difference between the bottom and top of the container. Precise pressure measurement is used to determine the height of the liquid in the tank. One of the most advantageous aspects of DP transmitters is that they can be used in pressurized containers.

Other examples of level transmitter technologies which are not hydrostatic devices include magnetostrictive, capacitance, ultrasonic, laser, and radar.

In magnetostrictive level transmitters the measuring device, a float, has a magnet that creates a magnetic field around a wire enclosed in a tube. Electrical pulses sent down the wire by the transmitter head produce a torsional wave related to the position of the float, which moves with changes in liquid surface level. The transit time of the torsion wave back to the sensing head is measured and the depth of the liquid, as indicated by the float position, can be determined.

Capacitance transmitters are best applied to liquids that have high dielectric constants. Essentially, changes in the capacitance of the sensor / tank / liquid assembly will vary proportionately with the liquid level. The change in capacitance is measured and converted to an appropriate electrical signal.

Ultrasonic level transmitters emit ultrasonic energy from the top of the vessel toward the liquid. The emissions are reflected by the liquid surface and them time required for the signal to return to the source is used to determine the distance to the liquid surface.

Laser level transmitters operate similarly to an ultrasonic level transmitter. However, instead of using ultrasound signals, they use pulses of light.

Radar level transmitters involve microwaves emitting downward from the top of the container to the liquid’s surface. The measured time for receipt of a return sign reflecting off the liquid surface enables calculation of the distance from the sensor to the liquid surface.

The precise measurement of transmit time for a wave or pulse of energy is employed in several of the technologies, the measurement of pressure in others. Each technology has a set of attributes making it an advantageous selection for a particular range of applications.

Analynk Wireless provides connectivity solutions enabling the wireless transmission of measurement data across the room, across the property, across the globe. Share your process measurement and control connectivity challenges with the experts at Analynk for a solution that is simple to implement and cost effective.

Wireless Communications Deliver Real Time Process Data From Remote Operating Sites

communications satellite orbiting the earth
No distance is too near or far for industrial wireless
Oil is where you find it, with many prospecting and production sites located where the communication options taken for granted in developed areas do not exist. Oil is big and serious business, with tremendous sums of money at risk on the prospect of reaping even greater returns. Every business operation, though, is of great importance to the stakeholders. Countless operations in little known industries and endeavors are located beyond the boundaries of modern communications infrastructure. 
If you want a data connection, bring your own.
Remote operating sites, whether for oil extraction or other purposes, will often be automated. Some decision making system or individual is responsible for the safe and effective operation of the remote site, or has a use or need for real time data being gathered at the remote site. Radio transmission is a viable, maybe the best, option for delivering real time data from a remote site to a central office.
  • Transmission options for 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, cellular, and satellite systems are readily available.
  • Equipment operates on low voltage, low power. Suitable for solar or other remote site power source.
  • No special instrumentation needed. Radio transmitting and receiving equipment interfaces directly with analog signals from common industrial process transmitters.
  • No "across the land" cabling needed.
  • Equipment can be configured to resist extreme environmental conditions.
Analynk manufactures transmission and receiving equipment that builds the bridge between remote sites and the home office. From elemental componentry to integrated, ready to run systems, Analynk specializes in wireless communications for industrial process control. Contact us with your wireless challenges. Whether an expansive multipoint, or a single point application, the specialists at Analynk can combine standard or customized products into a practical solution for every application.

One Transmitter, One Receiver, Multiple Process Signals

Multiple input output module connects to single receiver or transmitter
A16000 Multiple I/O Module
Radio frequency (RF) communications can enable the establishment or cost effective, quick, process signal connections across very small or very large distances. A misconception arises, from time to time, that it is necessary to have a dedicated transmitter and receiver for each process signal. Analynk has a solution that provides for delivery of up to sixteen process signals over a single transmission path.

Wireless transmission of process control signals is steadily increasing in prevalence throughout commercial, institutional and industrial settings. The ease of implementation, with no long cable runs to plan, layout, install, protect, and maintain, allows wireless installations to fulfill application niches that may have been considered impractical in the past.

Analynk provides hardware that easily allows the transmission and reception of up to 16 I/O points using a single transmitter and receiver. The A16000 Expansion Module can be configured with up to four internal cards that accommodate various types of input and output signals. The process is similar to setting up the I/O on a PLC. Connect the process signals to the A16000, and the A16000 to one of Analynk's transmitter or receiver devices. Setup is straight forward and allows the installation to be operable in minimal time.

Share your wireless communications and signal transmission challenges with the experts at Analynk and get recommendations on how to best implement workable solutions.

Automation and Grain Processing

grain storage silos
Grain processing benefits from automation and industrial wireless
The grain industry serves as an example of industrial process control, where standards are maintained at a constant rate for product delivery. Automation in grain processing provides both safety and efficiency by supporting the product delivery process. Historically, the grain production process has been hazardous, with industry workers subject to harsh conditions and potential risks associated with the grain, such as flammable grain dust. The transition from manual labor to automation has become the industry’s essential shift, with automation now a staple in harvesting, milling, and handling grain. The developers of automation components seek to mitigate production ineffectiveness and inventory miscalculations. Solids level transmitters, responsible for continuously monitoring the amount of grain in potentially hazardous environments, are a reliable replacement for employees at a silo’s peak.

Thanks to developments in technology, the implementation of sustainable automation does not need to come at the expense of company profit. A sole driver needs to control automation operations when dealing with grain handling, meaning that the number of employees put at risk via that stage in the process is substantially reduced. In order to keep track of inventory, automated management tracks not only the levels of grain inside silos but also where materials are located throughout the production facility. Grain sensors allow for the constant communication of how much grain is being moved through grain elevators and terminals. Instrumentation measures level, weight, and flow of solid grain while maintaining process protection.

Grain terminals allow for grain to be unloaded into hoppers, and then conveyors transfer those hoppers to the elevators. Cleaning drying, and blending machinery all employ automation, reducing the risks presented to employees. Truck and rail load-outs need to be close to target levels, because overloading or under-loading transport results in product loss. Preventing the loss of time and physical resources is a key element of automation. Radar transmitters cut through dust in silos to deliver reliable information back to the process operators. Ultrasonic instrumentation matches with point level technology to indicate when grain levels are high or low.

The handling and blending of raw materials can be monitored by solid flowmeters, with high accuracy still applicable in more compact spaces. A similar solid flowmeter ensures the accuracy of the flow rate and weight of solids measured in bulk, and can also be used in tandem with flow and weigh feeders to keep each individual load of grain consistently accurate. The applications of automation throughout the grain production process have evolved into a reliable means of reducing employee risk while ensuring accuracy and increasing throughput.

Grain operations cover large areas. A reliable, flexible, and cost saving way to establish the needed process control connections throughout the facility is via industrial wireless. Connections between measurement instruments and control units can be created across very long distances without the need to install conduit and cabling. Connections can be created quickly and reliably, with flexibility to increase throughput as more stations or sensors are needed. Equipment is suitable for general or hazardous locations. Contact an industrial wireless communications expert for help in developing connections on your project.