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00826-0100-0002, 07/09

Process Control Fundamentals

Module 2
Level Measurement

Emerson Process Management - Rosemount Measurment, 2009. All Rights Reserved. Printed in U.S.A.
While this information is presented in good faith and believed to be accurate, Emerson Process Management - Rosemount
Measurement does not guarantee satisfactory results from reliance upon such information. Nothing contained herein is to be
construed as a warranty or guarantee, expressed or implied, regarding the performance, merchantability, fitness or any other matter
with respect to the products, nor as a recommendation to use any product or process in conflict with any patent. Emerson Process
Management - Rosemount Measurement reserves the right, without notice, to alter or improve the designs or specifications of the
products described herein. The training material contained in this manual was developed by Emerson Process Management Rosemount Measurement for their exclusive use. This manual and the material contained herein may not be copied, reproduced,
sold, given or disclosed to third parties, or otherwise used in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the Director of
Emerson Process Management - Rosemount Measurment.

July 2009

Table of Contents
Introduction..................................................................................................................................................... 1
Why Measure Level?....................................................................................................................................... 3
Why Measure Level?........................................................................................................................................ 4
Inventory ................................................................................................................................................... 4
Custody Transfer ...................................................................................................................................... 4
Efficiency .................................................................................................................................................. 4
Safety......................................................................................................................................................... 5
Consistent Supply ..................................................................................................................................... 5
Level Terminology .......................................................................................................................................... 7
Terminology ..................................................................................................................................................... 8
Volume ...................................................................................................................................................... 9
Strapping Tables.............................................................................................................................. 11
Tanks with Dished Ends .................................................................................................................. 11
Interface.................................................................................................................................................. 14
Density .................................................................................................................................................... 14
Specific Gravity ............................................................................................................................... 15
Mass........................................................................................................................................................ 15
Device Characteristics................................................................................................................................... 16
Bottom-up vs. Top-down Measurement .................................................................................................. 16
Direct vs. Indirect Measurement ............................................................................................................ 16
Continuous, Single-Point, or Multipoint Measurement.......................................................................... 17
Indication vs. Control ............................................................................................................................. 17
Contacting vs. Noncontacting................................................................................................................. 18
Device Selection ............................................................................................................................................ 19
Device Selection............................................................................................................................................. 20
Why is the Level Measurement Needed? ................................................................................................ 20
What are the Conditions Within the Vessel? .......................................................................................... 20
What are the Environmental and External Conditions?......................................................................... 22
What are the Product Characteristics? .................................................................................................. 22
What is the Accuracy Requirement for the Application?........................................................................ 23
What are the Instrument Requirements? ................................................................................................ 23
What is the Total Cost of the Device? .................................................................................................... 24
What is the Operator Comfort? .............................................................................................................. 24
Classifying Level Technologies .................................................................................................................... 25
Manual/Mechanical................................................................................................................................ 26
Electromechanical .................................................................................................................................. 26
Electronic Contacting............................................................................................................................. 26
Electronic Non-contacting...................................................................................................................... 27
Cost vs. Performance.............................................................................................................................. 27
Device Summary Table ........................................................................................................................... 28
Classifying Level Technologies ..................................................................................................................... 29
Level Technologies........................................................................................................................................ 31

Level Measurement
Rosemount Inc. 2009

Page 3

Table of Contents
Point Level Systems ....................................................................................................................................... 32
Point Level Detection ............................................................................................................................. 32
Ultrasonic Level Switches....................................................................................................................... 32
Advantages ...................................................................................................................................... 33
Magnetic Float-operated Switches ......................................................................................................... 34
Horizontal Type Level Switches ...................................................................................................... 35
Vertical Type Level Switches........................................................................................................... 36
Displacers ............................................................................................................................................... 37
Tuning Fork Level Switches.................................................................................................................... 38
Advantages ...................................................................................................................................... 39
Ultrasound ..................................................................................................................................................... 40
Ultrasonic Signals .................................................................................................................................. 40
Ultrasonic Level Transmitters ................................................................................................................ 40
Ultrasound and Level Accuracy ............................................................................................................. 42
Blanking Distance & Ring-Down Time .................................................................................................. 42
Beam Angle............................................................................................................................................. 43
Air Temperature...................................................................................................................................... 44
Attenuation of Ultrasonic Signals........................................................................................................... 44
Vapors.............................................................................................................................................. 44
Condensation................................................................................................................................... 45
Foam................................................................................................................................................ 45
Turbulence....................................................................................................................................... 45
Benefits of Ultrasonic Technology................................................................................................................. 46
Benefits ................................................................................................................................................... 46
Pressure Transmitters.................................................................................................................................... 47
Open-Vessel Level Measurement............................................................................................................ 47
Compensation for Transmitter Datum............................................................................................. 48
Closed-Tank Level Measurement ........................................................................................................... 50
Differential Pressure Transmitter ................................................................................................... 50
Transmitter Adjustments.................................................................................................................. 51
Performance Considerations .................................................................................................................. 53
Process Characteristics................................................................................................................... 53
Transmitter Installation................................................................................................................... 53
Benefits ................................................................................................................................................... 54
Limitations .............................................................................................................................................. 54
Bubbler Systems ............................................................................................................................................. 55
Applications ............................................................................................................................................ 56
Benefits ................................................................................................................................................... 56
Limitations .............................................................................................................................................. 56

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Level Measurement
Rosemount Inc. 2009

Table of Contents
Hydrostatic Tank Gauging............................................................................................................................. 57
Measurement Options............................................................................................................................. 57
Mass................................................................................................................................................. 57
Density............................................................................................................................................. 57
Volume............................................................................................................................................. 58
Level ................................................................................................................................................ 58
Temperature .................................................................................................................................... 58
Benefits ................................................................................................................................................... 58
Limitations .............................................................................................................................................. 58
Radar ............................................................................................................................................................. 59
Radar Advantages................................................................................................................................... 59
Non-Contacting or Free Radiating Radar.............................................................................................. 60
Application and Installation Impact on Free Radiating Radar.............................................................. 61
Guided Wave Radar................................................................................................................................ 62
Application and Installation Conditions Impact on GWR ............................................................. 63
Benefits and Limitations .................................................................................................................. 63
Applications with Foam.......................................................................................................................... 64
Hybrid Inventory Systems .............................................................................................................................. 65
Measurement Options............................................................................................................................. 65
Level ................................................................................................................................................ 65
Volume............................................................................................................................................. 66
Density............................................................................................................................................. 66
Mass................................................................................................................................................. 66
Temperature .................................................................................................................................... 66
Benefits ................................................................................................................................................... 67
Workbook Exercises....................................................................................................................................... 69
Workbook Answers ........................................................................................................................................ 79

Level Measurement
Rosemount Inc. 2009

Page 5

Introduction

Introduction
To assure the safety and profitability of processes, it is often essential to be equipped with instruments
providing reliable and precise measurements of level. At the basics of level measurement, it is simply
about determining the position of a surface inside a tank, reactor or other vessel. More precisely, level
measurement is the determination of the linear vertical distance between a reference point (usually the
base of a holding container) and the surface of either a liquid, the top of a solid, or the interface of two
liquids. Precise control of the level of liquid in a tank, reactor, or other vessel is important in many
process applications. Level measurement is often used for Inventory Measurement. To provide good
control, accurate measurement is essential.
Several devices and systems are available for measuring product level. Each is designed to provide
accurate level measurement, although measurement precision and principles of operation vary among
devices. All level measurements involve interaction between a sensing device, element, or system and
a product inside a holding container.
Different process industries measure level for different reasons. The following pages will introduce
you to the most common reasons for measuring level and explain why and how the instruments in each
of the four level-measurement classes work. You will also learn about important aspects to consider
when selecting a level-measurement device or system for a particular application, as well as the
benefits and limitations of level measurement products.
The following five sections are included in this module:
T Why Measure Level?
T Level Terminology
T Device Selection
T Classifying Level Technologies
T Level Technologies

PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE
After you have completed this module, you will understand and be able to explain the basis upon
which level-measurement technologies are differentiated in the process industry.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 1

Why Measure Level?

Why Measure Level?


Process industries measure level for several reasons, the most common of which are outlined in this
section.

LEARNING OBJECTIVE
After you have completed this section, you will be able to:
T List and briefly explain the five most common reasons for measuring level:
Inventory
Custody transfer
Efficiency
Safety
Consistent supply

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 3

Why Measure Level?

Why Measure Level?


Activities

INVENTORY
One important reason for measuring level is to keep track of
inventory in terms of volume or weight. Consumers want to
know the amount of material available for a process. For
example, the gas gauge in your car lets you know how much
gas you have left in your tank.

CUSTODY TRANSFER
In many instances, the amount of material that is bought and
sold (custody transfer) is based on a level measurement that is
known to coincide with a certain volume or weight (from
mathematical equations or strapping tables) (see Strapping
Tables on page 11). An error of even 1/4 inch of measured level
can result in very large errors in terms of volume, especially in
large vessels. Therefore, precise level measurement is required
for custody transfer applications.

1.

Explain why accurate level


measurement is important in
custody transfer applications.

2.

Explain one way in which


accurate level measurement can
save money.

EFFICIENCY

1.

Page 4

2.

Figure 2.1: Storage Efficiency

Accurate level measurement ensures


accurate charging of customers.
By ensuring that storage vessels are
filled to capacity before purchasing new
vessels

Accurate level measurement increases efficiency. For example,


if a tank farm must keep a certain amount of material on hand
at all times and the storage tanks are not filled to capacity, the
facility will incur the unnecessary expense of purchasing and
maintaining additional storage vessels. The storage tanks in
Figure 2.1 could hold another 60 units of product before the
farm would need to purchase a new tank. Efficient use of
storage space prevents the extra cost of needlessly acquiring
more storage vessels.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Why Measure Level?

Why Measure Level?


Activities

SAFETY
Level is also measured for safety reasons. Filling vessels above
their capacities can cause safety hazardsspills (overflowing)
in open vessels. If the vessels are holding caustic, hot,
flammable, or hazardous materials, spills or overpressure could
lead to catastrophic results.

3.

Overfilling vessels can result in


____________ in open vessels.

4.

Identify one way in which a


more consistent supply rate can
be attained.

CONSISTENT SUPPLY
Many processes require a steady supply of inputs and outputs.
A consistent supply may be difficult to maintain if the supply is
delivered at varying rates or if there are surges in the supply
line. A storage vessel between the supply and the process can
act as a buffer to ensure that outflow is kept steady despite
fluctuating inflow (Figure 2.2). If the process level in the
storage vessel is always maintained within an appropriate
range, the supply delivery rate to the storage vessel can rise and
fall without affecting the supply delivery rate from the storage
vessel to the process.
Consistent supply is directly related to product quality in pulp
and paper industries, where a consistent supply ensures that
each sheet of paper has the same thickness as every other sheet.
\

3.
4.

Spills
By maintaining a certain level in a
storage vessel between the supply and
the process

Figure 2.2: Ensuring Consistent Supply

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.1 ON PAGE 69

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 5

Level Terminology

Level Terminology
Precise control of product level in a tank, reactor, or other vessel is important in many process
applications. To provide good control, accurate measurement is essential. This section introduces the
concepts and terminology you will need to master in order to fully understand level technology devices
and how they work, as well as how various other material properties (e.g., volume, density) can be
determined from a level measurement.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After you have completed this section, you will be able to:
T Identify four material properties that can be determined from a level measurement and explain
how each is determined:
Volume
Interface
Density
Mass
T Identify and describe the following five options for level-measurement device operation:
Bottom-up vs. top-down
Direct vs. indirect
Continuous, single point, and multipoint
Contacting vs. noncontacting
Indication vs. control

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 7

Level Terminology

Terminology
Level measurements are typically expressed in terms of feet or
meters. Level may also be given in terms of percent full or
percent of measured span. For example, the level of the vessel
in Figure 2.3 could be expressed as 9 feet (2.7 m), 90% full, or
50% of measured span. Measured span is the distance between
the lowest and the highest level that a level transmitter (LT) can
measure in a particular application. In Figure 2.3, the measured
span is from 810 feet.

Activities
1.

List three ways in which level


can be expressed.

2.

Define measured span.

3.

List three material properties


that can be determined from a
level measurement.

Figure 2.3: Level Measurements

2.
1.

Feet (or other unit of measure [e.g.,


meters]); percent full; percent of
measured span
The distance between the lowest and the
highest levels that a level transmitter
(LT) can measure in a particular
application
Interface; density; mass; volume

Page 8

3.

Sometimes level is measured for its own sakefor example, if


the goal of the measurement is to prevent spills. More often,
level is measured to find some other property of the stored
product. Product properties that can be determined from a level
measurement are:
T Volume
T Interface
T Density
T Mass

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

VOLUME
Volume is the space occupied by a quantity of material. Volume
is typically expressed in gallons, liters, cubic centimeters,
cubic feet, or barrels. Volume is the measurement most
commonly derived from level.

4.

Define volume.

Volume is usually determined by first measuring the level of


process in a tank and then calculating the process volume based
upon the tank geometry.

5.

True or False? Volume is the


space occupied by a quantity of
material.

6.

If the process level in a vertical


cylinder is 5 m and the cylinder
radius is 2 m, what is the
volume of product in the
cylinder (pi = 3.14)?

Many level-measurement devices store the level/


volume relationship for common tank geometries in
their electronic components (computer), which
enables them to calculate a direct volume output.

In other cases, the volume may be calculated in a


programmable logic controller (PLC) or determined from a
look-up table (see Strapping Tables on page 11) that relates
level to volume. The relationships between level and volume
for several common tank shapes are shown below:
Where: v = tank volume
r = tank radius
H = tank height (or length)
L = product level
Vertical Cylinder
r

v = r

4.

The space occupied by a quantity of


material
True
62.8 m3
2009 Rosemount Inc.

5.
6.

Level Measurement

Page 9

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

Horizontal Cylinder
H

v = 2r

l
H atan ------------------- + H ( L r ) L ( 2r L )
2r L

Sphere

2
L ( 3r L )
v = -------------------------------3

Vertical Bullet
If L r
2

L
v = --------- 3r L
3

If r < L < (H r)

2
2 3
v = --- r + r ( L r )
3
L

If (H r) L

2
2
( L + 2r H )
v = r ( H 2r ) + ------------------------------------- ( 3r ( L + 2r H ) )
3

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Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

Horizontal Bullet

r
L

2
L2
L
= --------- ( 3r L ) + 2r ( H ( 2r ) ) atan ------------------- + ( H 2r ) ( L r ) L ( 2r L
3
2r L
Note: atan is the arctangent of the angle, or the inverse of tangent.

Tanks with Dished Ends


Tanks with dished ends do not have a standard shape
(Figure 2.4). Therefore, the volume of these tanks cannot be
determined strictly from geometry. Instead, strapping tables
are used to determine volume.

Figure 2.4: Tanks with Dished Ends

Strapping Tables

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Strapping tables relate


______________ to
______________ for several
discrete points in a tank.

Level; volume

A strapping table is a look-up table that relates level to volume


for several discrete points in a tank (Figure 2.5). Strapping
tables are usually derived by adding a known volume of
product to a tank and then measuring the level of product that

7.

7.

Calculating volume from level and tank geometry provides a


volume measurement accurate enough for the needs of most.
However, in some instances, the geometry of the tank may be
irregular, which makes it nearly impossible to model the
relationship between level and volume mathematically. In such
cases, volume must be determined from the level reading
through the use of a strapping table.

Page 11

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

corresponds to that volume (manual strapping). The volume


and level measurements are recorded in a strapping table.
Then, when a volume measurement is required, level is
measured and looked up in the strapping table to find the
corresponding volume.
8.

10

Point

Level
(inches)

Volume
(gallons)

10

10

32

15

68

20

115

25

173

30

230

35

313

40

394

10

100

957

If the level in the tank in


Figure 2.5 is 10 inches and later
it is increased to 27 inches, the
initial volume of product in the
tank is _______ gallons and the
final volume is ________
gallons.
(Hint: interpolate)

Figure 2.5: Strapping Table

Strapping tables can just be a few points to accommodate tank


shape or they can be hundreds of points. Larger numbers of
points are used with larger tanks that tend to bulge when filled.
If a measured level falls between two points in a table, volume
is determined by interpolating the two points. Typically,
strapping tables have a higher concentration of points in tank
regions where the relationship between level and volume is not
linear. For example, in Figure 2.5, strapping points are
concentrated near the bottom of the tank. This concentration
provides for better resolution in the strapping table and a more
accurate measurement.

9.

Typically, more / less points are


included in a strapping table for
the dished region of a tank.

There are several circumstances in which a strapping table may


be required for level measurements. When product is added to
a tank, the tanks sides bulgethe bulging causes an error in
the mathematical calculations for specific tank geometries. The
amount of error is related to the degree of bulging. Strapping
tables are commonly used to eliminate errors in calculations
due to bulging error (Figure 2.6).
8.
9.

32 gallons; 195.8 gallons


More

Page 12

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Terminology

Terminology
In certain applications (e.g., petroleum storage and
transfer), bulging errors may cause suppliers to overor undercharge customers.

Activities

10. Define bulging error.

Empty Tank

Tank with Product

Figure 2.6: Bulging Error

Strapping tables are also used to store level/volume


relationships for irregularly shaped tanks (Figure 2.5) or for
tanks with internal equipment (Figure 2.7).

Figure 2.7: Tank with Internal Equipment

10. A calculation error caused by the


bulging of tank sides when product is
added to the tank

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 13

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

INTERFACE
An interface is the boundary between two immiscible
(incapable of being mixed) fluids with different densities
(e.g., oil and water). An interface measurement finds the
boundary between two liquids stored in the same tank, each
with a different density. For example, when oil and water
occupy the same vessel, the oil floats on top of the water. The
interface between the two fluids is the upper level of the water
and the lower level of the oil (Figure 2.8).

11. Define interface.

Interface is often used when a manufacturer has two


fluids in a tank and wants to pour off only the top
fluidthe interface measurement indicates when to
stop.

Liquid A to Air
Interface
Liquid A
Liquid A to B
Interface
Liquid B

Figure 2.8: Interface

DENSITY
Density is the mass of a material per unit of volume. Density is
often expressed in terms of grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm3)
or pounds per cubic foot (lb/ft3). Specific gravity is often used
to describe the density of a material compared to the density of
water.

12. Define density.

11. The boundary between two immiscible


fluids with different specific gravities
12. The mass of a material per unit of
volume at a specific temperature

Page 14

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Terminology

Terminology
Activities

Specific Gravity
Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a material to the
density of water at a common reference temperature. Water has
a density of 1 g/cm3 (62.43 lb/ft3) at 39.2 F (4 C). Glycerin, a
compound often found in soaps, has a density of 78.66 lb/ft3.
At the same temperature, therefore, glycerins specific gravity
is 1.26 (78.66 62.43).

13. Define specific gravity.

MASS
Mass, the amount of matter an object contains, is often
equivocated to weight. Mass is typically expressed in terms of
kilograms, grams, tons, or pounds. Mass is unaffected by
temperature. Thus, 60 lb (27.2 kg) of oil at 50 F (10 C) is still
60 lb at 86 F (30 C)however, the overall volume of the oil
may change due to expansion.

14. How is mass determined from a


level measurement?

If density is known, mass can be found from a level


measurement by first finding volume (see Volume on page 9)
and then using the following equation:
Mass = Density

Volume

Some level-measurement devices measure mass


directly (e.g., load cells). See Module 2a, Level
Measurement Reference.

13. The ratio of the density of a material to


the density of water at a common
reference temperature
14. By first finding volume and then
multiplying it by the density

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.2 ON PAGE 70

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 15

Level Terminology

Device Characteristics
BOTTOM-UP VS. TOP-DOWN MEASUREMENT

Activities

A top-down measurements may or may not contact the process


fluid. A top-down measurement poses less potential for
leakage (Figure 2.9) and enables level measurement devices to
be installed or removed without emptying the tank (e.g., radar,
gauge).
A bottom-up measurement typically contacts the process fluid
(e.g., weigh scale). Level devices that use pressure transmitters
are bottom-up measurement systems.
Bottom-up measurements may cause leakage or
introduce installation complications with
underground vessels.

Top-down Measurement
System

15. A direct measurement is


independent of / dependent on
other process parameters.

Bottom-up Measurement
System

Figure 2.9: Bottom-up vs. Top-down Measurement

Direct measurement indicates that level is measured directly.


For example, when you use a dipstick to check the oil level in
your car, you are making a direct measurement. A direct
measurement is independent of any other process parameters.
Indirect measurement, also known as inferred measurement,
indicates that a variable other than level is first measured and
then used to determine a level measurement. For example,
pressure transmitters use mass and the fluids specific gravity
to calculate level.

Page 16

16. What is an indirect level


measurement?

15. Independent of
16. A measurement in which a variable
other than level is first measured and
then used to determine level

DIRECT VS. INDIRECT MEASUREMENT

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Terminology

Device Characteristics
CONTINUOUS, SINGLE-POINT, OR MULTIPOINT
MEASUREMENT
A continuous level-measurement system monitors the height of
product within a range of points within the tank at all times.
Continuous measurement is used for precise control, to
maintain the level of a material at a particular point, and to
ensure a consistent supply, like in a batch reactor.

Activities
17. List two examples of when a
continuous level-measurement
system would be used.

Single-point measurement indicates whether a product is at


least as high or low as a certain point, usually the high- or
low-level limit. They are typically used to prevent overflow. A
common example is a toilet tank float.
In multipoint measurements, level indication is observed at two
or more discrete points in the tank. Two single-point
measurement devices may sound alarms or operate equipment
at high and low limits. Several single-point devices located
throughout the vessel could approximate a continuous levelmeasurement system.

INDICATION VS. CONTROL


Level measurement indicators enable an on-site level check.
Indicators require the operator to interpret the measurement
and take the appropriate action. Systems with level
measurement indicators are referred to as open-loop control
systems. Indicators are frequently used to help calibrate
automatic control systems as well (Figure 2.10).

18. How does an open-loop control


system differ from a closed-loop
control system?

Automatic control systems, or closed-loop systems, are able to


electronically control level in a vessel. A level-measurement
device, combined with a transmitter, generates either a
pneumatic or electronic control signal that is proportional to
the level in the vessel. The signal is received by a controller
that operates other devices (e.g., valves or pumps), which, in
turn, control the amount of product flowing in and out of a
vessel. Automatically controlled vessels may also include level
measurement indicators.
17. To ensure precise control; to maintain
the level of material at a particular point;
to ensure a consistent supply
18. Open-loop control systems require an
operator to interpret measurements and
take action, while a closed-loop control
system controls level electronically.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 17

Level Terminology

Device Characteristics
Activities

Controller
Manual
Operation

Control
Valve

Load
Valve

Level
Transmitter

Indicator
Load Valve
Vessel

Figure 2.10: Indication vs. Control

CONTACTING VS. NONCONTACTING


In a contacting measurement, some part of the measurement
system is in direct contact with the contents of the vessel.
Examples of contacting measurement techniques include floats
and dipsticks.

19. Explain what a contacting level


measurement is.

In a noncontacting measurement, no part of the measurement


system directly contacts the contents of the vessel.
Noncontacting methods are preferred when the
measured fluid is especially abrasive or corrosive.

19. In a contacting level measurement,


some part of the measurement system is
in direct contact with the product in the
vessel.

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.3 ON PAGE 72

Page 18

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Device Selection

Device Selection
Because of the large variety of level-measurement devices available, selecting the appropriate device
for a particular application can be difficult. While most level-measurement technologies are adaptable
to more than one process measurement, there is no single level device that will work for every
application. However, by asking the right questions and understanding some basic application needs,
you can narrow down the selection pool considerably and determine which device will work best in
each application.

LEARNING OBJECTIVE
After you have completed this section, you will be able to:
T Identify eight important questions about basic application needs and explain how the answer to
each question affects level-measurement device selection:
Why is the level measurement needed?
What are the conditions within the vessel?
What are the environmental and external conditions?
What are the product characteristics?
What is the accuracy requirement for the application?
What are the instrument requirements?
What is the total cost of the device?
What is the operator comfort?

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 19

Device Selection

Device Selection
Activities

WHY IS THE LEVEL MEASUREMENT NEEDED?


Do you need a rough indication of product level, or do you
want to know exactly how much product is in the vessel?
The answer to this question will indicate what information is
needed from the level device and what type of measurement is
required (e.g., mass measurement or single-point
measurement).

1.

If a customer wants to know


exactly how much product is in
a vessel, he or she should use a
single-point / continuous levelmeasurement system.

2.

What level-measurement
technology might you suggest
for 1,000 F and up
temperatures within the vessel?

3.

Refer to Table 2.1. What


level-measurement technology
might you suggest for pressures
of 3,0004,000 psig and a wide
temperature range?

For example, if an engineer wants to prevent spills or know


when to refill a vessel, a single-point level device may be
sufficient. If the engineer needs to keep the product volume
within a certain range in the vessel, a continuous level device is
needed. If the engineer needs to know how many pounds of
product are needed, a mass measurement is required.

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS WITHIN THE VESSEL?


Does the level-measurement device need to be able to handle
high pressures and temperatures?

Continuous
Nuclear
Capacitance

Page 20

1.
2.
3.

Some level-measurement devices can withstand high


temperatures and pressures quite well, while others cannot.
Specification limits affect device selection. Table 2.1 shows the
specification limits of some of the more common level devices.
In some devices that can withstand process extremes,
performance is compromised. The accuracy of some devices
can be affected by temperature changes.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Device Selection

Device Selection
Technology

Pressure*

Temperature

Nuclear

No limit

No limit

Capacitance

Full vacuum to 5,000 200 to 900 F and up


psig (340 bar)
(129 to 482 C)

Displacer

Full vacuum to 4,000


40 to 900 F (40 to 482 C)
psig (272 bar)

Pressure
with seals

Full vacuum to 4,000 100 to 600 F


psig (272 bar)
(73 to 316 oC)**

Pressure

Full vacuum to 4,000


40 to 380 F (40 to 193 C)
psig (272 bar)

Ultrasonic
point

Atmospheric to 1,000
40 to 320 F (40 to 160 C)
psig (68 bar)

Ultrasonic
non-contact

Atmospheric to 200
psig (13.6 bar)

40 to 180 F (40 to 82 C)

Free
radiating
radar

Full vacuum to 798


psig (55 bar)

40 to 752 F (40 to 400 C)

Contacting
radar

Full vacuum to 5000


psig (345 bar)

76 to 752 F (60 to 400 C)

Activities

4.

Top-down / bottom-up devices


are better suited to turbulent
processes.

*Full vacuum = 14.7 psig; atmospheric = 0 psig


**The upper temperature for seals is limited in vacuum applications.

Table 2.1: Pressure and Temperature Limits

Is there product turbulence from agitation or mixing?


Are steam or other vapors present in the space above the
product?
Product turbulence or vapors above the product may be
difficult to measure for some top-down devices. For example,
some devices require that a return signal be reflected from the
product surface. The signal may be weakened or not returned at
all if there is product turbulence or vapors. Turbulence and
vapors are less problematic for bottom-up measurement
devices.
Are there any interfaces, temperature gradients, foams, or
suspended solids?

2009 Rosemount Inc.

Bottom-up

Level Measurement

4.

Interfaces, temperature gradients, foams, suspended solids, or


obstructions in the vessel could potentially affect the validity of
a measurement, depending on the technology selected. For
example, suspended solids may clog some devices. Foam is an
important consideration because some users want to measure
level at the top of the foam while others want to measure level
underneath the foam.

Page 21

Device Selection

Device Selection
Activities

Are there any mounting constraints on the vessel?


Existing taps should be used if at all possible. Some
installations are more difficult if the vessel is glass lined or
double walled. Smaller tanks have less available mounting
area. Tanks that are underground, close together, close to the
ceiling, or wrapped with heating coils may have limited
accessibility. Floating roofs may limit the mounting of some
top-down devices.

5.

List three factors that may affect


measurement device selection
based on mounting features.

6.

Indoor / outdoor installations


are more likely to have a
constant temperature.

All processes cannot be measured by the same type of device.


Corrosive processes may require special construction materials
on the level sensor. If special materials are required, consider
whether these materials are readily available or if it would be
better to select a device that does not have to contact the
process.

7.

___________ processes may


require special construction
materials on the level sensor.

Process characteristics can affect different devices in different


ways:
T A viscous product may plug the ports on some devices.
T Dust, surface foam, and vapors may interfere with some
transmitted signals.
T If the process density changes, the level indication for
pressure devices could be affected unless compensated
for.
T If the dielectric constant (electrochemical property of a
fluid related to the fluids ability to transmit electrical
charges from one body to another) changes, capacitance

8.

List four process characteristics


that could potentially affect
level measurement, depending
on the technology selected.

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND EXTERNAL


CONDITIONS?
What effect will environmental conditions have on the
instruments performance?
Indoor installations are likely to have a fairly stable
surrounding environment with minimal temperature changes
and constant humidity. Outdoor installations are more likely to
have temperature and humidity extremes. Vibration,
electromagnetic interference, and transients (power surges
caused by lightning) are other external issues that must be
considered. Transient protectors (or surge protectors) can help
protect against transients.

WHAT ARE THE PRODUCT CHARACTERISTICS?

5.
6.
7.
8.

Vessel walls; proximity; floating roofs


Indoor
Corrosive
Viscosity; density; dust or surface foam;
dielectric constant; coating tendencies

Page 22

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Device Selection

Device Selection
T

Activities

measurements will be affected.


Process coating tendencies could affect the sensitivity of
devices requiring contact.
Solids tend to pile up in a vessel and are not likely to have
a flat surface. Consider at what point on the angle of
repose (maximum slope without product sliding) the level
should be measured and whether or not this point is
consistent.

WHAT IS THE ACCURACY REQUIREMENT FOR THE


APPLICATION?
How is the instrument accuracy specified?
A device that works well on a small tank may not provide the
accuracy required for a larger tank. For example, a device with
an accuracy of 0.1% of span gives an accuracy of 0.06 inches
(1.5 mm) on a 5 ft (1.5 m) tank level. The same device provides
an accuracy of 0.6 inches (15 mm) on a 50 ft (15 m) tank
level.

9.

True or False? A device with


an accuracy of 0.1% of span
gives an accuracy of 0.06
inches (1.5 mm) on a 5 ft tank
level and an accuracy of 0.6
inches (15 mm) on a 50 ft tank
level.

Other devices, such as top-down radar devices, generally


specify accuracy to within a certain value ( 0.1 in or 3 mm) or
as a percentage of distance measured. The impact of other
performance parameters (e.g., temperature effect) should also
be evaluated.
Is there a need for high accuracy?
The primary goal in some applications may simply be the
ability to make a reliable measurement. In other applications,
repeatability may be far more important than accuracy, i.e. the
ability to provide the same measurement when repeatedly
measuring a steady level.

WHAT ARE THE INSTRUMENT REQUIREMENTS?


What approvals are needed?
Hazardous approvals need to comply with local requirements.
A standard of explosion proof may be sufficient for many
devices, but some plants or applications may require intrinsic
safety or other approvals. In other instances, sanitary
requirements may need to be met.

True
2009 Rosemount Inc.

9.

Level Measurement

Page 23

Device Selection

Device Selection
What are the outputs required?

Activities

The most common output is a continuous analog 420 mA


signal, although digital signals are also gaining popularity. In
some instances, an alarm or control relay may be needed.
What power is available?
Most devices will run on 1224 V dc (direct current), although
there are some devices that run on 110 or 220 V. A few devices
may operate on low power.

10. List three instrument


requirements that must be
considered when selecting a
level-measurement device.

WHAT IS THE TOTAL COST OF THE DEVICE?


The list price of the level-measurement device is important, but
the cost of installation and maintenance should be given an
equivalent amount of consideration. In general, the lower-cost
devices (usually mechanical) tend to require higher levels of
maintenance. The more sophisticated electronic instruments
are often higher priced, but the maintenance cost is much
lower. The initial costs of some of the non-contacting
technologies are dropping as technical capabilities and market
demand increase.
Another cost consideration is the life of the measurement
device. An inexpensive device that needs to be replaced
frequently can be very costly compared to a more expensive
device that is more durable, reliable, or better suited to the
application. In general, high-performance devices tend to cost
more.

11. Why is maintenance an


important consideration in
device cost?

WHAT IS THE OPERATOR COMFORT?


Lastly, consider the ease of using the device.
Will the method selected be understood by the people who have
to use it everyday?
Will the device be easy to install, calibrate, and maintain?
10. Available power; outputs required;
approvals
11. Cheaper devices have very high
maintenance costs in the long run

While performance and engineering issues are critical, the


everyday use of a level-measurement device can be a key factor
in its ultimate selection and long-term use.

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.4 ON PAGE 73

Page 24

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Classifying Level Technologies

Classifying Level Technologies


Many level-measurement technologies are available. Choices vary from simple, manual methods to
more elaborate methods that do not contact the measured products. Some technologies are available in
both continuous-level and point-level measurement versions. In an effort to group general
characteristics, level-measurement devices can be organized into the following four categories:
T Manual/mechanical
T Electromechanical
T Electronic contacting
T Electronic non-contacting
This section introduces and explains in detail the function, benefits, and limitations of the devices in
each category. For more extensive descriptions, see supplemental technology information.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After you have completed this section, you will be able to:
T Describe, in general terms, how the level measurement devices in each category work:
Manual/mechanical
Electromechanical
Electronic contacting
Electronic non-contacting
T Identify benefits and limitations of the devices in each category

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 25

Classifying Level Technologies

Device Selection
Activities

MANUAL/MECHANICAL
Devices in the manual/mechanical category have no electronic
output. The operator uses the device to get a visual indication
of the amount of material in the vessel. Examples of levelmeasurement devices in this category are sight glasses or rod
gauging systems. These devices are low cost but have no
automation. (See Module 2a: Level Measurement Reference,
for more information on manual/mechanical devices.)

1.

Manual and mechanical devices


do / do not have electronic
output.

2.

Cite an example of a manual or


mechanical measurement
device.

3.

Why do electromechanical
devices have relatively high
maintenance requirements?

4.

Electromechanical devices do /
do not have electronic output.

5.

Give one example of an


electronic contacting device.

ELECTROMECHANICAL

ELECTRONIC CONTACTING
Devices in the electronic contacting category have no moving
parts. While they are not immune to problems with coating or
corrosion, electronic contacting devices tend to be more robust
and thus require less maintenance than electromechanical
devices. Examples of level-measurement devices in this
category are capacitance probes and pressure-based level
transmitters. (See Module 2a: Level Measurement Reference,
for more information on electronic contacting devices.)

Do not
Sight glasses, rod gauging systems
They have moving parts; the mechanical
moving parts are subject to fouling and
corrosion
Do
Capacitance probes; pressure-based
level transmitter

Page 26

1.
2.
3.

Devices with moving parts tend to have high maintenance


requirements. Exposing electromechanical devices to sticky,
viscous, or corrosive fluids creates an environment in which
the devices mechanical parts are subject to fouling (dirtying of
moving parts) and corrosion, which leads to frequent cleaning
or repairs. An example of a level measurement device in this
category is a displacer. (See Module 2a: Level Measurement
Reference, for more information on electromechanical
devices.)

4.
5.

Devices in the electromechanical category are mechanical


assemblies with a number of moving parts that produce an
electronic output for control. Unlike manual/mechanical
devices, electromechanical devices provide an automated
measurement that can be read remotely.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Classifying Level Technologies

Device Selection
Activities

ELECTRONIC NON-CONTACTING
Devices in the electronic non-contacting category provide
sophisticated level measurement without ever touching the
product. Because they have no moving parts and no direct
contact, maintenance is minimal. Electronic non-contacting
devices can be easier to install than other level devices because
the holding vessel generally does not need to be drained or
penetrated. An example of a level-measurement device in this
category is a radar measurement device. (See Module 2a: Level
Measurement Reference, for more information on electronic
noncontacting devices.)

COST VS. PERFORMANCE

6.

Explain why electronic


noncontacting devices have
relatively low maintenance.

7.

Why are electronic


noncontacting devices easy to
install?

Which level measurement technology is chosen


depends on whether there is more concerned about
cost or about value and performance. The two are
indirectly proportional.

Figure 2.11 shows the relationship between initial cost and


performance for the level-measurement device chosen.

Figure 2.11: Initial Cost vs. Performance

6.

2009 Rosemount Inc.

7.

They have no moving parts; they are not


in direct contact with the product
Because the product in the holding
vessel does not have to be drained or
penetrated

Level Measurement

Page 27

Classifying Level Technologies

Device Selection
Figure 2.12 shows the relationship between maintenance cost
and the type of level measurement device chosen.

Activities

Figure 2.12: Cost vs. Maintenance

DEVICE SUMMARY TABLE


Table 2.2, Level Measurement Classification, on page 29
shows the breakdown of the various level measurement
technologies into their specific categories. The table also
indicates which process properties each device is able to
measure.

Page 28

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Classifying Level Technologies


Level Measurement Category

Density

Interface

Level

Mass

Point

Manual/Mechanical
Floats and Float Systems

Rod Gauging/Dip Probes

Sight/Gauge Glasses

Tape Levels and Tape Systems

x
x

Electromechanical
Displacers

Magnetostrictive

Resistance Tape

Rotation Suppression

Servo

Electronic Contacting
Capacitance

Conductivity

Optical

Phase Tracking

Pressure-Based Level Technologies

Bubbler Systems

Guided Wave Radar


Hybrid (HTG and Radar)

Thermal

Vibrating Level (Tuning Fork)

Ultrasonic Gap Sensors

Electronic Noncontacting
Laser

Load Cells

Nuclear

Free Radiating Radar


Ultrasonic

x
x

Table 2.2: Level Measurement Classification

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.5 ON PAGE 75

Page 29

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Level Technologies
There are several types of level measurement technologiespoint level, pressure-based, ultrasonic
non-contact, and radar based. This section details the benefits and limitations of each level technology
product and explains in detail how each device works.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
After you have completed this section, you will be able to:
T Explain how point level systems work, including:
Ultrasonic level switches
Magnetic float-operated switches
Displacers
Tuning fork level switches
T Explain how each of the following level measurement technologies works:
Ultrasound
Pressure transmitters
Bubbler systems
Hydrostatic tank gauging
Radar
Hybrid inventory systems
T Identify benefits and limitations of level-measurement devices

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 31

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

POINT LEVEL DETECTION


Point level detection can either be single point or multipoint
measurement and is normally used where either high or low
alarm levels are to be indicated. The most common application
is for over-fill protection, and is frequently used in addition to
continuous level measurement systems where additional back
up or high integrity alarm signals are required.

1.

Point level detection is most


often used in applications where
protection against ___________
is required.

2.

An ultrasonic gap sensor is


typically operated at a
frequency of ________.

Multipoint measurement is commonly used for automatic


pump control for filling or emptying vessels, where separate
start and stop levels are required for the pump.

ULTRASONIC LEVEL SWITCHES


Ultrasonic level switches are used in most industrial processes
and marine cargo applications to detect high and low levels.
Operation is achieved using the time-proven principle of
ultrasonic transmission between two crystals. Liquid presence
is detected by virtue of its bulk. Liquid droplets, condensation,
or foaming are ignored.
Typically an ultrasonic gap sensor is operated at a nominal
frequency of 1 MHz. Sensor electronics are set to respond to
the gain or the attenuation due to the lack of liquid in the sensor
gap.

Figure 2.13: Ultrasonic Gap Switch Theory


1.
2.

Overfilling
1 mHz

Page 32

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

Figure 2.14: Ultrasonic Gap Switch Operation

Generally, gap sensors are designed for fail safe low level duty.
A special Hi-sens type sensor is used for fail safe high level
duty.
Advantages
3.

True or False? One advantage


of an ultrasonic gap switch is
that it doesnt have any moving
parts.

True

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

3.

Advantages of ultrasonic gap switches:


T No moving parts, no maintenance
T Simple installation
T Hazardous area use
T Immune to foam
T Unaffected by:
RF interference
Conductivity
Droplets
Most coatings
Liquid color/opacity

Page 33

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

MAGNETIC FLOAT-OPERATED SWITCHES


Magnetic float-operated switches usually fall into two
categories, horizontal and vertical-operated configurations. In
most applications it is common to have the float switch directly
mounted to the tank or vessel via a stand-off nozzle and
flanged connection. In certain cases, especially in the process
industries where vessels may be at high temperatures and
pressures, the float switch device may be installed in a separate
chamber or bridle as shown in Figure 2.15.

4.

How are magnetic


float-operated switches
typically mounted?

Figure 2.15: Magnetic Float-operated Switch

4.

Typically, the float switch is directly


mounted to the tank or vessel via a
stand-off nozzle and flanged connection

Page 34

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

Horizontal Type Level Switches


The horizontal level switch typically employs a two magnet
principle to provide the switching action. The main advantage
of this design is that the internal float is mechanically isolated
from the electrical switching mechanism via the magnetic
coupling through the non-magnetic flange of the switch body.

5.

What is the main advantage of a


horizontal type level switch?

6.

Where are the two permanent


magnets located in a horizontal
type level switch?

Figure 2.16 shows how the horizontal magnetic two-magnet


principle operates.

Figure 2.16: Horizontal Switch Operation

One permanent magnet forms part of a float assembly which


rises and falls with changing liquid level. A second permanent
magnet is positioned within the switch so that the adjacent
poles of the magnet repel each other through a non-magnetic
diaphragm.
A change of liquid level which moves the float through its
permissible travel causes the float magnet to move and repel
the switch magnet to give the snap action operation.

5.

2009 Rosemount Inc.

The internal float is mechanically


isolated from the electrical switching
mechanism
The permanent magnets are located in
the float assembly and within the switch

Level Measurement

6.

This type of float switch can have numerous float


configurations to cater to a wide range of S.G, tank shapes and
pressures from full vacuum up to 3000 psi (200 bar),
depending on flange rating.

Page 35

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

Vertical Type Level Switches


The float in a vertical type level switch carries a stainless steel
sheathed permanent magnet which rises and falls in the
glandless pressure tube with changing liquid level. A switch
mechanism is mounted inside the enclosure adjacent to the
pressure tube. Switching is achieved with a unique
three-magnet system, giving snap action latch-on switching.

7.

When the liquid level increases,


a vertical type level switch
latches / resets.

8.

What does vertical movement in


a vertical switch mechanism do
to the secondary and tertiary
magnets?

Figure 2.17: Vertical Switch Operation

Latches
It actuates those magnets to operate the
contacts

Page 36

7.
8.

Vertical movement of the float magnet in the pressure tube


simultaneously actuates the secondary and tertiary magnets in
the switch mechanism to operate the contacts. The
three-magnet system enables the float magnet to pass on and
actuate switch mechanisms at other levels. Actuated switch
mechanisms cannot reset until the return of the primary magnet
actuates the magnet system once again.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


Activities

DISPLACERS
Displacers are ideal for sump applications and other top
mounting duties such as low level alarm in deep tanks. The
principle makes them suitable in a modified form for very high
pressure or low S.G applications.
The displacer element, typically made of stainless steel, is
suspended on a stainless steel cable from a spring. The element
is always heavier than its equivalent volume of the liquid in
which it operates, so it always creates tension on the spring. In
free air, the spring will be extended to a known length,
controlled by a mechanical stop to prevent overstressing.
Fixed to the spring is the float rod and magnet assembly, free to
move up and down as the spring extends or contracts, andt the
switch mechanism is outside the pressure tube in the usual
manner.

9.

What creates the tension on the


spring in a displacer element?

Figure 2.18: Floats and Displacers

As liquid rises to cover the displacer element, a buoyancy force


is created equal to the weight of the liquid displaced. This force
is sensed by the spring as a reduction in weight, causing the
spring to contract, moving the magnet upwards inside the
pressure tube, and actuating the switch mechanism. When
liquid levels fall, the displacer element is uncovered and the
spring senses an increasing effective weight, thus causing the
spring to extend and move the magnet, which resets the switch
mechanism.

2009 Rosemount Inc.

9.

The displacer element is always heavier


than its equivalent volume of the liquid
in which it operates, so it always creates
tension on the spring

Level Measurement

Page 37

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


TUNING FORK LEVEL SWITCHES

Activities

The tuning fork type of level switch typically comprises a


sensor consisting of a pair of tines that act like a tuning fork
plus associated electronics that provide either a solid state
electronic output or simple relay contact.
Tuning fork tines are oscillated at their natural resonant
frequency of typically 1300 Hz by a piezoelectric crystal
located near the head of the fork. When the sensor is in the
vapor space, the natural resonant frequency is maintained at
1300 Hz.

10. What is the natural resonant


frequency of a tuning fork level
switchwhen it is in vapor space?

Figure 2.19: Vibrating Fork Technology

When the sensor tines become immersed in liquid, the sensors


natural frequency is reduced. Typically electronics are set to
respond when the natural frequency drops by approximately
200Hz to 300Hz.

Page 38

10. 1300 Hz

Figure 2.20: Vibrating Fork Type Level Switch

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Point Level Systems


The electronics can provide a wide range of output switching
options. The simplest form is a solid state direct load switching
capability where the switch is wired directly in series with
load, for example a relay coil or contactor. Alternatives include
a relay output with a SPDT volt-free relay, and a PNP transistor
output for direct interface to PLCs. For hazardous area
applications, an intrinsically safe (IS) Namur type output is
available to DIN 19234 (IEC 60947-5-6).

Activities

Advantages
The advantage of the self-sustaining resonant frequency probe
design is that material build-up on the probe has only limited
effect, because with a limited amount of coating, the resulting
change in the natural frequency of the probe does not collapse
the oscillation. Therefore, the sensor is suitable for applications
where a small amount of coating can be tolerated.

11. True or False? Vibrating fork


level switches are less effective
in applications where the fork is
subject to coating.

Other advantages:
T Easy to install
T Screwed or flange mounting options
T Use on hygienic applications with special hygienic
connections
T Temperature range 40 F to +300 F (-40 C to 150 C)
T High pressures up to 1500 psi (100 bar~)
T No moving parts, no maintenance
T Wide S.G range 0.6 to 2.0
T Wide viscosity range 0.2 to 10000 cps
T Optional output switching modes Direct load, Relay
contacts, Solid state PLC compatible, I.S Namur

11. False

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 39

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
The production of ultrasound is used in many different fields,
particularly in medicine. For process level measurement,
ultrasound is a useful way of continuously measuring level
using pulse-echo techniques.

Activities

ULTRASONIC SIGNALS
An ultrasonic signal is generated by driving a piezo-electric
crystal with a high voltage AC signal. The crystal tries to
oscillate but is unable to because it is bonded to the inside face
of the transmitter. As a result, the whole assembly oscillates at
the crystals natural frequency and an ultrasonic signal is
transmitted.

Ultrasonic level transmitters are non-contacting instruments


installed over a liquid that may be in a tank, wet-well, or open
air reservoir. An ultrasonic pulse is emitted by the transmitter
toward the liquid surface, which it then detects as an echo that
returns from the liquid surface. An on-board microprocessor
calculates liquid level from this information, although more
complex calculations such as the volume of liquid in a tank or
the flow in an open channel are also possible.
Ultrasonic level transmitters typically send a signal directed
toward the liquid surface about once every second. The signal
travels at the speed of sound and is reflected back as an echo
towards the transmitter when it hits the liquid surface.

Figure 2.21: Typical Ultrasonic Echo Trace

Page 40

12. What type of crystal is used to


generate ultrasonic signals?

13. An ultrasonic level transmitter


sends a signal about once every
_____ second(s).

12. A piezo-electric crystal with a high


voltage AC signal
13. One second

ULTRASONIC LEVEL TRANSMITTERS

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
The transmitter knows the instant in time when the signal was
sent and also the instant in time when the echo is received
back, so the overall journey time is known. Dividing this time
in half provides the time taken for the signal to hit the liquid
surface.

Activities

14. How does an ultrasonic


transmitter calculate the
distance to a surface?

Figure 2.22: Ultrasonic Level Measurement

Because the transmitter knows both the speed of sound and


time taken, the distance to the target is calculated using the
basic equation:
Distance = Speed x Time

For example, if a signal travelling at the speed of sound in air


(1049 feet per second) has a round trip time of 20 milliseconds,
the distance to the target is 1049 feet per second multiplied by
20 milliseconds and divided by 2, or 10.49 feet.

15. A signal travelling through air


has a round trip time of 15
milliseconds. What is the
distance to the surface?

When the transmitter is programmed with the tank height and


the distance to target is known, the level can be calculated by
subtracting distance from tank height. Additionally, if the tank
in the example above had a linear profile and the transmitter
were programmed with the cross sectional area of the tank, the
transmitter could also calculate the actual volume of liquid in
the tank.

14. Distance is calculated by taking the time


for a signal to be sent and the echo to be
received and dividing it by half.
15. 7.87 feet

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 41

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
ULTRASOUND AND LEVEL ACCURACY

Activities

The following factors have an impact on the accuracy of an


ultrasonic level measurement:
T Blanking distance and ring-down time
T Beam angle
T Air temperature
T Signal attenuation

BLANKING DISTANCE & RING-DOWN TIME


All transmitters have a blanking distance, sometimes called a
blocking distance or dead zone, in which no measurements can
be made.
To transmit the ultrasonic signal, the transmitter energizes the
transmit mechanism (the piezo-electric crystal) for a finite
time, and the crystal naturally vibrates or oscillates at the
ultrasonic frequency. The time it takes for the oscillation to
decay is known as the ring-down time. The ring-down time can
be used to calculate the distance to the surface, since in
ultrasonics time equals distance.

16. What is ring-down time?

Figure 2.23: Ultrasonic Blanking Distance

16. The time it takes for an ultrasonic


oscillation to decay.

Page 42

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
If the liquid surface is too close to the transmitter face, an echo
is received before the transmitter oscillation decays, which
makes it extremely difficult to detect the echo among other
noise. To avoid this situation, manufacturers stipulate a
minimum blanking distance based on the ring-down time of the
transmitter.

Activities

The blanking distance can be of use in


commissioning, since it can be set so false echoes
from stand-offs or close false targets can be
effectively ignored.

BEAM ANGLE
Once released into the air, the ultrasonic signal spreads like a
flashlight beam. Manufacturers generally define the beam
angle as the half-power point or 3dB pointin other words, the
inside of the beams cone contains half of the transmitted
energy. Much is made of beam angles and the need to keep
them small, but in reality, good software and echo handling
algorithms in the transmitter are far more important.

17. Beam angle is defined as the


______________ or _______
point.

Figure 2.24: Ultrasonic Beam Angle

17. Half-power or 3dB point

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 43

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
Activities

AIR TEMPERATURE
Distance calculations used by ultrasonic transmitters rely on
the speed of sound, but changes in air temperature also change
how quickly sound travels. For this reason, it is customary for
ultrasonic level transmitters to have built-in temperature
measurement capabilities that compensate for temperature
changes.
For certain applications, it is possible to use remote
temperature sensors where more precise measurement is
required or where a faster response is needed to track changes
in ambient air temperature. This is important, for example, in
open channel flow applications where precise level
measurement is required and where the transmitter can be
subjected to extreme changes in air temperature.

18. Why does a change in air


temperature affect calculations
for distance-to-surface when
using ultrasound technology?

A 1 C change in temperature is the equivalent of a 0.6 m/s change in


the speed of sound, which is equal to a 0.18% change in measured
distance. See Table 2.3 for examples of how this affects distance to
surface at 20 C and 22 C.
Air
Temperature

Speed of
Sound

Round Trip

Distance to
Surface

20 C

343 m/sec

20 milliseconds

343 x (0.020 / 2) =
3.43 meters

344.2 m/sec 20 milliseconds

344.2 x (0.020 /2) =


3.442 meters

22 C

Table 2.3: Affect of Air Temperature on


Ultrasonic Level Measurement

ATTENUATION OF ULTRASONIC SIGNALS


Ultrasonic signals can be affected by vapors, condensation,
foam, and various other factors.

19. When would an ultrasonic


measurement device need a
speed of sound correction
factor?

Vapors

Page 44

18. The speed of sound changes depending


on the air temperature, which affects
distance calculations
19. When a liquid gives off heavy,
non-homogenous vapors

Certain liquids are prone to giving off heavy vapors, which can
cause problems for some ultrasonic transmitters. If the vapor
above the liquid is not homogenous (such as with bitumen,
gasoline, or aviation fuel), the speed of sound travelling
through it is variable and an incorrect level reading will be
calculated. This error can usually be overcome by
programming a speed of sound correction factor.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Ultrasound
If the vapor is very attenuative to ultrasound, no echo is
returned. Classic examples of this are carbon dioxide, acetone,
and applications which have high proportions of free chlorine
present.

Activities

Condensation
Light condensation on the transmitter face is generally not a
problem, since the movement of the transmiter face during a
transmission tends to encourage any condensation to migrate to
the edges of the face. Heavy condensation is best avoided.
Foam
Liquids with foamy surfaces are difficult for ultrasonic
technology. Ultrasound is in effect a pressure wave and foam
acts like a sponge, absorbing the energy of the wave and giving
little or no echo.
If foam is present, it is frequently transient or there is a
foam-free area around the inlet to the vessel. Correct
positioning of the transmitter above this foam-free area usually
solves the problem.
Turbulence
Turbulent liquid surfaces can also be problematical, but
generally only if the transmitter is working at the extreme of its
measuring range. A stilling tube can minimize excessive
agitation.

20. When would you need to use a


stilling tube in conjunction with
an ultrasonic device?

20. When a liquid surface is turbulent or


agitated

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 45

Level Technologies

Benefits of Ultrasonic Technology


BENEFITS
T

Simple process connectionsthreaded, flanged or simple


mounting brackets
The ability to measure distance, level, tank volume, and
open channel flow
They can be used for both measurement and control

Activities
21. True or False? Ultrasonic
transmitters are a good choice
when measuring the level of a
sticky liquid such as liquid latex
rubber.

In addition, ultrasonic transmitters:


Use a non-contacting technology, which is especially
beneficial with liquids that are highly viscous, sticky, or
corrosive and when continuous agitation is required
Are a lower-cost solution compared to other
non-contact solutions
Can be and frequently are installed on existing tank
connections
Allow for a top-mount install, which eliminates the
need to empty the tank before or during installation
Ultrasonic transmitters are widely used in the water
and wastewater utilities sector and general process
industries.

21. True

Page 46

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
Pressure transmitters are the most commonly used technology
for liquid level measurement. They are straightforward, easy to
use and install, and work in a variety of applications and a wide
range of conditions.
If a level measurement is being made on an open/vented vessel,
a single gauge (GP) or differential pressure (DP) is required. If
the tank is closed or pressurized, a DP transmitter must be used
to compensate for the vessel pressure.
In addition to basic level measurements, DP transmitters can be
set up to provide density and interface level measurements.

Activities
22. What level-measurement
technology is most commonly
used for liquids?

23. List two types of pressure


transmitters.

OPEN-VESSEL LEVEL MEASUREMENT


In an open-vessel configuration, the head pressure of the liquid
is measured to infer a level measurement. Any column of liquid
exerts a force at the base of the column because of its own
weight. This force, called hydrostatic pressure or head
pressure, can be measured in pressure units. Hydrostatic
pressure is determined by the following equation:
Hydrostatic Pressure = Height SpecificsGravity

If the liquid level (height) changes, hydrostatic pressure


changes proportionally. Therefore, a simple way to measure
level is to install a pressure gauge on the holding vessel at the
lowest level to be measured. The level of the liquid above the
measurement point can then be inferred from hydrostatic
pressure by rearranging the formula above to solve for height
(Figure 2.25):

24. In an open vessel, a simple head


measurement is being used to
measure the level of liquid. The
hydrostatic pressure will be
proportional to the __________
of the liquid.

Pressure
Height = --------------------------------------------SpecificGravity
Gauge Reading = 12 psig
Each Foot of Height = 0.43 psig
Height = 12/0.43 = 27.9 ft

12 psig

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

22. Pressure transmitters


23. Differential (DP) and gauge
transmitters
24. Level

Figure 2.25: Hydrostatic Pressure

Page 47

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
Water Column

Activities

A common unit of measurement is inches of water column


(inH2O). 1 inH2O is the amount of pressure applied by a
one-inch column of water at 68 F (20.0 C). Pressure
measurements given in psi can be converted into inH2O. A
reading of 120 inH2O from the high-pressure tap means the
liquid level is 120 inches above that transmitter. If a liquid
other than water is measured, the reading is multiplied by the
specific gravity of the measured liquid to compensate for the
density difference.
Compensation for Transmitter Datum
When using pressure-based technology to measure level, it is
important to consider the height of the transmitter in relation to
the tank geometry. The specific gravity of a wet leg or capillary
with fill fluid must be considered when installing and ranging a
pressure transmitter.

25. List two ways to compensate for


specific gravity in pressure
transmitter measurements.

For example, consider how the transmitters mounting location


impacts the 4 and 20 mA range points. Assume that for an
example application the liquid level in the tank is 100 inches of
water, the maximum level in the tank is 10 feet, and the remote
seal system is filled with DC 200 fill fluid (specific gravity
0.934). If the transmitter is mounted two feet below the process
connection, the transmitter will need to be calibrated from
22.42 to 118.42 inH20. If the transmitter is mounted two feet
above the process connection, the transmitter will need to be
calibrated from -22.42 to 73.48 inH20.
Instrument Toolkit can be used to easily calculate the correct
calibration values for any pressure/remote seal application,
including open tank level measurements.
Figure 2.26 shows a sample screenshot from Instrument
Toolkit. Simply enter the basic installation parameters detailed
in the graphic, and Toolkit will automatically calculate the
proper calibration ranges.

25. Measuring the column of water; using


mathematical calculations

Page 48

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
Calibration setpoints for an open tank configuration are as
follows:

Activities

4 mA = (Minimum Level x Process Specific Gravity)


(Mounting Location x Fill Fluid Specific Gravity)
= (L1 x Process Specific Gravity) (T S1) x (Fill Fluid
Specific Gravity)
20 mA = (Max Level x Process Specific Gravity)
(Mounting Location x Fill Fluid Specific Gravity)
= (L2 x Process Specific Gravity) (T S1) x (Fill Fluid
Specific Gravity)

Figure 2.26: Calibration Example

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 49

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
CLOSED-TANK LEVEL MEASUREMENT
If a vessel is pressurized, a single AP or GP transmitter may
not be adequate, as changes in the overall pressure of the vessel
can affect the accuracy of the level measurement. For example,
50 gallons of a certain compressible fluid may correspond to 5
feet in a vented tank (14.7 psi). However, in a closed tank
pressurized to 30 psi, that same 50 gallons may only
correspond to 2.5 feet. To solve this issue, a DP transmitter
should be used in closed tank applications to compensate for
the vessel pressure.

Activities
26. In pressurized vessels, the
pressure gauge measures not
only the hydrostatic pressure
resulting from the height of the
liquid column, but also what?

Differential Pressure Transmitter


When a DP transmitter is used, changes in the overall vessel
pressure affect the high- and low-pressure taps of the
transmitter equally, so the effects of pressure variation are
canceled out.

27. Which level measurement


system is used for pressure
measurement in a closed vessel?

The high-pressure side of the DP transmitter connected near


the bottom of the vessel measures hydrostatic pressure plus
vapor space pressure. The low-pressure side of the DP
transmitter connected near the top of the vessel reads only the
pressure in the vapor space. The difference in pressure between
the process connections (differential pressure) is used to
determine level.
When using DP level-based technology for a closed-vessel
application, customers have traditionally used one of three
methods:
T Dry leg system
T Wet leg system
T Remote seal/capillary system

28. When would it be most


appropriate to use a dry leg
system to measure the level in a
closed vessel?

Wet and Dry Leg Systems

29. True or False? When the gas


above the liquid can condense
easily in a closed vessel, a wet
leg system is used to measure
level.

Page 50

26. The pressure above the stored liquid


27. Differential pressure transmitter
28. When the gas above the liquid cannot
condense
29. True

In a wet/dry leg configuration, impulse piping is used to


connect the DP transmitter to the high and low pressure taps on
the vessel. The user then must fill the low-side impulse piping
with a suitable gas (dry leg) or liquid (wet leg) to endure that a
suitable reference pressure is applied on the low side of the DP
transmitter sensor. Dry leg configurations are used when the
gas in the vapor space of the vessel cannot condense (e.g.,
nitrogen). Wet leg configurations are used when the vapor gas
can condense, such as steam.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
In general, wet and dry leg configurations are maintenanceintensive and should be replaced with remote seal or capillary
systems when possible. Dry legs must be kept free of moisture
and condensation, while wet legs need to be checked and
re-filled to ensure system accuracy.

Activities

Remote Seal/Capillary Systems


Remote seal/capillary systems are the preferred configuration
to use for a DP level measurement, as they eliminate many of
the maintenance and performance issues that exist with wet and
dry leg systems.

30. What are remote seals?

Remote seal systems consist of external sensing diaphragm


seals that are connected to the transmitter with oil-filled
capillaries. The oil used in the capillaries is not compressible,
and thus they offer significantly better performance than wet/
dry leg configurations. Additionally, it is a closed system that
requires little maintenance. There are no impulse tubes to fill or
drain, fewer leak points, and drastically better performance.
Transmitter Adjustments
To determine the differential pressures that correspond to zero
and span transmitter adjustments, use the formulae in Table
2.3.
Zero

Span
High-Pressure Connection

Head pressure at Lmin =


inH2O produced by distance
Y(SG1)

Head pressure at Lmax = inH2O


produced by distance
(X + Y)(SG1)

Low-Pressure Connection
Head pressure of reference
leg = inH2O produced by
distance Z(SG2)

Head pressure of reference leg =


inH2O produced by distance
Z(SG2)

Differential Pressure
Differential pressure at Lmax =
High Low

Table 2.4: Determining Lmin and Lmax Points


(Ranging)

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

30. Transmitter extensions that enable the


transmitter to avoid direct contact with
the process liquid

Differential pressure at Lmin =


High Low

Page 51

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
Activities

Wet Leg Calibration

Figure 2.27: Wet Leg Calibration

Where:
T Lmax = 300 in (highest level measured)
T Lmin = 100 in (lowest level measured)
T Y = 50 in (distance between the transmitter datum and
Lmin)
T Z = 275 in (height of reference leg)
T SG1 = 1.0 (specific gravity of liquid in the vessel)
T SG2 = 1.2 (specific gravity of reference liquid in the wet
leg)

The objective of the wet leg calibration is to adjust the


transmitter so that the following occur:
T The transmitter output is at its minimum value when the
transmitter measures a differential pressure produced by
liquid level Lmin minus the wet leg pressure.
T The transmitter output is at its maximum value when the
transmitter measures a differential pressure produced by
liquid level Lmax minus the wet leg pressure.

Page 52

31. List the two main objectives of a


wet leg calibration.

31. To adjust the transmitter so that


transmitter output is at its minimum
value when the transmitter measures a
differential pressure produced by liquid
level Lmin minus the wet leg pressure;
the transmitter output is at its maximum
value when the transmitter measures a
differential pressure produced by liquid
level Lmax

The wet leg, though connected to the low side of the DP


transmitter, will always measure a higher pressure than the
high side of the DP transmitter because of the height of the wet
leg. Therefore, the differential pressure measurement will be
given in negative numbers.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
PERFORMANCE CONSIDERATIONS

Activities

Process Characteristics
Several process properties must be considered in order to
obtain the best performance from a pressure transmitter. One
property is the density of the fluid. Because level is a function
of head pressure and specific gravity, the density of the fluid
must be stable to obtain accurate level measurements. Fluid
density often changes as the fluids temperature, concentration,
or composition changes. A second measurement device is
needed to compensate for the density change. In addition, the
fluid must be homogenous. If the fluid is stratified, the
measured density may not be representative of the full quantity
of fluid.

32. List four process characteristics


that can affect performance.

Other process characteristics that could influence the accuracy


of the level measurement are the fluids temperature, tendency
to plug connection lines, and corrosiveness.
Transmitter Installation
Pressure transmitters are usually mounted near the bottom of
the tank, on a side wall, or on the underside of a suspended
tank. Mounting transmitters on outlets or drainage pipes,
especially prior to a pump, can cause a pressure drop when
starting and should be avoided. As long as the transmitters are
slightly recessed from the major impacts of agitation,
bottom-mounted pressure transmitters work well in vessels that
are subject to turbulence from agitation.

33. Where are pressure transmitters


typically mounted?

Pressure transmitters should be mounted where sediment will


not build up on the measurement surface. Pressure transmitters
are immune to foam layers, which generally do not have
enough weight to contribute to the pressure measurement. In
addition, any vapors above the fluid are compensated for in a
DP system and do not interfere with the measurement.

34. List two items that can be used


to extend a transmitters
capability with underground
tanks.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

32. Density, temperature, corrosiveness,


tendency to plug connections
33. Near the bottom of the tank, on a side
wall, on the underside of a suspended
tank
34. Bubblers, remote seals

Tank accessibility, particularly for underground tanks, may


require modification in order to use pressure transmitters.
Remote seals and bubblers are two alternatives for extending
the transmitters capacity to handle these problems (see
Bubbler Systems on page 55).

Page 53

Level Technologies

Pressure Transmitters
Activities
Capillary

Pressure
Transmitter
Add Fill Fluid

Remote Seal

Subtract Fill Fluid

Figure 2.28: Remote Seal Assembly

BENEFITS
In general, pressure transmitters are economical, easy to use,
and are well understood. In addition, pressure transmitters
meet electrical safety requirements as they often have
intrinsically safe electrical components and thus no associated
potential for sparks.

LIMITATIONS
Level measurement accuracy in pressure transmitters can be
affected by changes in fluid density. In addition, special
precautions are required with thick, corrosive, or otherwise
hostile fluids. In addition, some fluids (e.g., paper stock) tend
to solidify as their concentration increases. Pressure
transmitters do not work well with such solidified states.

35. List three types of fluids that


require special precautions or
that should not be used with
pressure transmitters.

35. Very thick fluids, caustic or hostile


fluids, fluids which tend to solidify as
their concentration increases

Page 54

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Bubbler Systems
A bubbler system consists of three main components
(Figure 2.29):
T

T
T

Dip tube (vertical pipe extending the height of the liquid


to be measured)
Air supply and regulator
Pressure transmitter

Activities
36. List the three main components
of a bubbler system.

100 in

SG=1.1

Figure 2.29: Bubbler System

The dip tube is inserted into the tank so that the end of the pipe
falls at the minimum desired tank level. Level can only be
measured if the process level covers the bottom of the dip tube.
The bubbler passes a regulated flow of gas (usually air or
nitrogen) through the dip tube and into the process fluid. The
air flow creates bubbles in the process fluid and prevents the
fluid from flowing up into the dip tube.

37. The ________________ of the


process fluid is equal to the
amount of air supply pressure
needed to ________________
through the pipe.

Fluid viscosity (thickness) is determined by measuring the time


required for a bubble to rise through the fluid. The head
pressure of the process fluid is equal to the amount of air
supply pressure needed to blow bubbles through the pipe (back
pressure).

38. Back pressure is proportional to


the product ____________.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

36. VDip tube, pressure transmitter, air


supply and regulator
37. head pressure; blow bubbles
38. Level

A pressure transmitter mounted at the top of the dip tube


measures the back pressure, which is proportional to the
product level in the tank. The higher the level, the greater the
back pressure.

Page 55

Level Technologies

Bubbler Systems
APPLICATIONS

Activities

Bubblers are often used when the application requires that the
process does not contact the measurement device. For example,
if the holding vessel is buried, it may be impossible to mount a
transmitter on the vessels low-pressure tap. Bubblers may also
be used if the process is too corrosive for even special materials
to handlethat is, materials that usually stand up well to
corrosive processes. Most often, bubblers are used with open
vesselsclosed-tank applications have additional
complications when used with bubblers, which should only be
used as a last resort.

39. List three applications in which


bubblers are often used.

BENEFITS

40. Bubbler systems have a


measured range that is limited
only by the ________________
_____________________.

Bubbler systems offer the following benefits:


T Enable the DP transmitter to be a top-down measurement
device, which eliminates direct contact with the process
T Only one tap is required
T Applicable to atmospheric, vacuum, and pressurized
vessels
T Applicable to tanks containing slurries or corrosive or
viscous processes
T Measured range is limited only by the available air supply
T Can measure density and interface in addition to level
T Measurement device can be relocated to any convenient
location

41. Bubbler systems can / cannot


measure density.

LIMITATIONS

Page 56

42. List two things upon which the


accuracy of a bubbler system is
dependent.

39. When the device does not contact the


product, the process is very corrosive, or
the process uses open storage vessels
40. Available air supply
41. Can
42. Repeatable air supply, readability of the
pressure indicator

The following limitations are associated with using bubbler


systems for level measurement:
T Applicable to pressurized tanks, but only up to the
pressure of the available air supply
T Accuracy depends on the readability of the pressure
indicator and a constant, repeatable air supply
T Fluid density changes create level measurement errors
T Installation cost (labor) is high
T May not work well in viscous or sticky process fluids that
tend to clog the dip tube
T Regular preventative maintenance is required
T If air supply fails, the process material can enter the dip
tube and damage instrumentation
T Exhausted air can pick up volatile materials from the
process fluid that should not be released into the
environment

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Hydrostatic Tank Gauging


Hydrostatic tank gauging (HTG) uses a multipoint system to
measure mass, volume, density, level, and temperature for
liquid inventory and process applications (Figure 2.30).

Activities
43. Define hydrostatic head
pressure.

Figure 2.30: Hydrostatic Tank Gauging

MEASUREMENT OPTIONS
Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure created by a height of
liquid above a given point. HTG works on the principle that the
hydrostatic head pressure of a column of liquid is directly
proportional to the height of that column. HTG systems
provide four basic measurements (mass, density, volume, and
level) using combinations of up to three pressure
measurements and one temperature measurement. The
measuring device sends data to a local tank-side interface unit,
where the data is compiled and calculations are completed.
Mass

44. The hydrostatic head pressure


of a column of liquid is directly
proportional to the __________
of that column.

45. In an HTG system, density


cannot be calculated if the
product volume is above /
below the middle transmitter.

Mass is equal to the pressure difference between the bottom


and top transmitters multiplied by the average area of the tank.
The tank area is based on the current product level (determined
by the pressure difference) and strapping table data.
Density

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

43. The pressure created by the height of a


liquid above a given point
44. Height
45. Below

Density is equal to the pressure difference between the middle


and bottom transmitters divided by the distance between them.
Density cannot be calculated when the product volume is
below the middle transmitter.

Page 57

Level Technologies

Hydrostatic Tank Gauging


Volume

Activities

Volume is equal to the mass measurement divided by the


density measurement.
Level
Level is equal to the difference between the bottom and top
pressure measurements divided by the density plus the heel.
The heel is the height of the process fluid from the bottom
transmitter to the floor of the tank.

46. Define heel.

The head pressure measurement in an HTG system is taken


near the bottom of the tank. Therefore, level errors caused by
roof movements during tank filling and emptying, which are
common with top-down devices, do not exist in HTG.
A top-down pressure transmitter is used in pressurized tanks to
measure static pressure. The static pressure value is used to
correct for static pressure influence in the bottom transmitter. If
the tank is open to atmosphere, the top transmitter is not
needed.
Temperature
A temperature measurement is taken between the bottom and
middle pressure transmitters. The temperature measurement,
combined with the products measured density and density
correction factors, is used to calculate standard density and
standard volume values.

47. In a tank that is open to


atmosphere, the bottom / top
transmitter is not needed in a
temperature measurement with
an HTG system.

BENEFITS
HTG offers the following benefits:
T Highly accurate on-line direct mass and density
measurements
T Nonintrusive device
T Can be installed without removing the tank from service
T No mechanical parts
T Capable of handling conditions up to 375 F (190 C) and
3,000 psi (204 bar)

LIMITATIONS

Page 58

46. The reading obtained when measuring


the height of the process fluid from the
bottom transmitter to the floor of the
tank
47. Top

When using HTG for level measurement, temperature and


density stratification and turbulence in the tank can cause
measurement inaccuracies. If the turbulence is only on the
surface of the product, it is unlikely to affect the measurement.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Radar
Radar (radio detection and ranging) technologies transmit a
continuous microwave signal from a radar device mounted on
top of a vessel to the surface of the material held inside. The
transmitted signal is reflected back to the device and the gauge
measures the distance (and determines the level) by
differentiating the transmitted and returned signals. The level
measurement is determined by using the reference height of the
gauge minus the distance to the surface.

Activities
48. Explain how radar devices
measure level.

Figure 2.31: Radar Level Device

Radar level devices are available in two basic versions: free


radiating and guided wave. Each type has distinct
characteristics that result in their use in different kinds of
applications.

49. What are the advantages of


using radar gauge for level
measurement?

RADAR ADVANTAGES

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

48. They measure level by transmitting a


microwave signal to the product surface.
The signal is reflected back and the
gauge measures the distances and
determines the level by differentiating
between transmitted and returned
signals.
49. It is insensitive to changes in fluid
properties; its measurements are not
affected by changes in process
conditions; it has no moving parts so the
maintenance is minimal

Both free radiating and guided wave radar provide a top-down


direct measurement where they measure the distance to the
surface. Both can be used with liquids, sludges, slurries, and
some solids. Radar level devices are ideal for applications
where a direct measurement is needed. A key advantage of
radar is that no compensation is necessary for changes in
density, dielectric, or conductivity of the fluid. Changes in
pressure, temperature, and vapor space conditions have no
impact on the accuracy of radar measurements. In addition,
radar devices have no moving parts so maintenance is minimal.

Page 59

Level Technologies

Radar
NON-CONTACTING OR FREE RADIATING RADAR

Activities

Free radiating radar sends a signal through the vapor space that
bounces off the surface and returns to the gauge. Because it is
non-contacting, its susceptibility to corrosion is limited and it
is an ideal choice for viscous, sticky, and abrasive fluids. Free
radiating radar can frequently be used in vessels with agitators.
It can be completely isolated from the process and used with
isolation valves. Most vendors offer non-contacting versions
that can be used in applications from 1 to 30 or 40 meters.
Free radiating radar is available using two basic techniques:
pulse (time of flight) radar and FMCW, or frequency modulated
continuous wave. Pulse based radar offers a repeatable
measurement and has lower power requirements to make the
basic measurements. The power requirement for FMCW is
higher than for pulse, but it is also a more robust measurement
and is more accurate.

50. True or False? High frequency


gauges use larger antenna and
beam width as compared to low
frequency gauges.

The frequency ranges of the non-contacting radar can impact


its performance more than the techniques used. A lower
frequency reduces sensitivity to vapor, foam, and
contamination of the antenna, whereas a higher frequency
keeps the radar beam narrow in order to minimize influence
from nozzles, walls, and disturbing objects. Beam width is
inversely proportional to antenna size. The beam width of a
given frequency will decrease as the antenna size increases.

51. What are the advantages of


narrow beam width when using
the radar gauge for level
measurement?

52. Name three things that low


frequency radar gauges are less
sensitive to.

Page 60

50. False
51. It minimizes the influence from nozzles,
walls, and disturbing objects; it allows
for greater flexibility in choosing the
types of nozzles
52. Vapor, foam, and corrosion of antenna

Figure 2.32: Radar

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Radar
Activities
Frequency
(GHz)

Antenna Diameter Beam Width

6 in (DN 150)

23 (for 3 DB power density)

6 in (DN 200)

19 (for 3 DB power density)

10

3 in (DN 80)

25 (for full beam width)

10

4 in (DN 100)

21 (for full beam width)

24

3 in (DN 80)

13.7 (for full beam width)

24

4 in (DN 100)

10.5 (for full beam width)

Table 2.5: Radar Frequency, Antenna


Diameter, and Beam Width

APPLICATION AND INSTALLATION IMPACT ON FREE


RADIATING RADAR
For the free radiating radar, a good installation is the key to
success. Free radiating radar needs a clear view of the surface
with a smooth, unobstructed, unrestricted mounting nozzle.
The measured surface needs to be relatively flat, not slanted.
Non-contacting radar gauges can handle agitation, but their
success will depend on a combination of the fluid properties
and the amount of turbulence. Dielectric properties of the
medium and the surface conditions will impact the
measurement. With low dielectric process fluids, much of the
radiated energy is lost to the fluid, leaving very little energy to
be reflected back to the gauge. High dielectric fluids such as
water, alcohols, and most acids reflect 50 to 70% of the energy
back to the gauge. Low dielectric fluids, such as many oils and
solvents, reflect back only a small amount of the energy. A
fluid with a dielectric constant of 4 only reflects back about
10% of the energy. If the surface is turbulent, whether from
agitation, product blending, or splashing, more of the signal is
lost. So a combination of low dielectric fluid and turbulence
can limit the return signal to a non-contacting radar gauge. To
get around this, cages or stilling wells can be used to isolate the
surface from the turbulence.

53. True or False? The amount of


reflected energy from the fluid
surface is directly dependent on
its dielectric constant.

53. False

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 61

Level Technologies

Radar
Activities

54. Stilling wells can be used to


isolate the surface from
turbulence and thereby _______
the returned signal, especially in
applications where the fluid
dielectric constant is low.

Bypass Cage

Figure 2.33: Stilling Well Free-Radiating Radar

GUIDED WAVE RADAR

Page 62

55. Because a portion of energy


continues to travel through low /
high dielectric fluids when
using guided wave radar, a
second pulse can be detected
from a second surface with a
higher / lower dielectric.
56. What are the advantages of
using a guided wave radar
gauge?

54. Increase
55. Low; higher
56. It can be installed in tanks with tight
geometry; it can measure solids; it
works well in low dielectric and
turbulent applications; it can measure
level as well as interface level

Guided wave radar (GWR) is also called time domain


reflectometry (TDR) or micro-impulse radar (MIR). GWR
sends a low energy pulse down a probe or cable that bounces
off the surface and back to the device. Since the probe guides
the signal in each direction, a lower energy pulse can be used
and it has a high signal-to-noise ratio. Because a portion of the
energy continues to travel through low dielectric fluids, a
second pulse can be detected from a second surface with a
higher dielectric. This characteristic makes guided wave radar
a good technique for measuring liquid/liquid interfaces such as
oil and water and measuring through some foams. Guided
wave radar can be used in vessels with tight geometry, smaller
tanks, and long access nozzles. It also works well in low
dielectric, turbulent applications. Because it is not dependent
on reflecting off a flat surface, it works well with many
powders and grains as well as liquids with slanted surfaces
caused by vortices.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Radar
Activities

Figure 2.34: Guided Wave Radar

Application and Installation Conditions Impact on GWR


While guided wave radar works in many conditions, it should
not be used in applications with sticky fluids or ones that tend
to coat heavily. Several probe styles are available and the
application, length, and mounting restrictions influence their
choice. Unless a coax-style probe is used, probes should not be
in direct contact with a metallic object, as that will impact the
signal. Applications with layers of sand and sludge do not
impact the general measurement capabilities, just the lower
level limit. Small vessels and vessels with obstacles that inhibit
the use of free radiating radar are ideal places to consider using
guided wave. It also works well in displacer and bypass cages
for both interface and level measurements.

57. True or False? Guided wave


radar should not be used with
for measuring the level of a
vessel containing syrup.

Benefits and Limitations

58. Guided wave radar is ideal for


use in large / small vessels.

While each type of radar has unique advantages, both are


subject to application restraints. Understanding the application
conditions and matching them to the correct type of radar is the
first step to a successful measurement. Beyond that, proper
installation and configuration play key success roles.

57. True
58. Small

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

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Level Technologies

Radar
APPLICATIONS WITH FOAM
Foam is a condition that is a frequent cause of frustration for
users of radar gauges. The characteristics of foam are partly
dependent upon its source and its dielectric constant, the
amount of entrapped air, the size and shape of the bubbles, and
the overall thickness of the foam layer. The effect of the
resulting foam is hard to predict. With some types of foam the
radar signal will be entirely absorbed and there will be no
target to present to the gauge. With other foams, the foam will
be reflective enough to provide a reliable signal, a clear
situation of try it and see. Guided wave radar may be a better
alternative than non-contacting. It can cut through some foams
that stop the free radiating radar.

Activities

59. What type of radar can be used


in applications where foam is
present?

59. Guided wave radar

Page 64

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Hybrid Inventory Systems


Hybrid inventory systems combine the advantages of an HTG
system with those of a radar system to provide a complete
system for precise measurements of level, volume, density, and
mass. An average temperature measurement can also be
made.In hybrid inventory systems, a highly accurate radar level
gauge is located at the top of the holding vessel to measure
level. A pressure transmitter is mounted near the bottom of the
vessel to measure the head pressure of the product
(Figure 2.35).

Activities
60. A hybrid inventory system has a
highly accurate ____________
__________ at the top of the
vessel and a ______________
___________ at the bottom of
the vessel.

Figure 2.35: Hybrid Inventory System

MEASUREMENT OPTIONS
Level
In a radar hybrid inventory system, the radar unit measures
product level by determining the distance from the surface of
the product to the radar device. Level is calculated by
subtracting the distance measurement from the height of the
mounted radar device.

61. In a radar hybrid inventory


system, level is calculated by
subtracting the distance
measurement from the
___________ of the mounted
radar device.

60. Radar level gauge; pressure transmitter


61. Height

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

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Level Technologies

Hybrid Inventory Systems


Volume

Activities

Strapping tables reflecting the tanks shape and level/volume


relationships are incorporated into the electronics of the radar
device (see Strapping Tables on page 11). Using the level
measurement, the volume of the material can then be
computed.
Density
The pressure transmitter measures the head pressure exerted by
the height of the product in the vessel. Pressure is equal to the
height of a product multiplied by the products specific gravity.
Therefore, the density of the material can be determined from
the head pressure reading and the level reading provided by the
radar gauge. The resulting density value of this calculation is
representative of the entire height of product.

62. What two readings from a radar


gauge are used to determine
density?

Mass
Once level, volume, and density are determined, mass can be
derived. Because the density of the entire product is
represented, the mass measurement is more accurately
represented than with a traditional level system.

63. What three factors do you need


to calculate a products mass?

Temperature
A good temperature measurement is critical for correcting
density and volume back to standard values (60 F, 15 C).
Standardization can be accomplished using a multipoint or
averaging temperature probe incorporated into the hybrid
system. Using the level measurement as a guide, only that
portion of the sensor covered by the product is used for an
accurate average temperature.

62. Head pressure reading and the level


reading
63. Level, volume, and density

Page 66

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Level Technologies

Hybrid Inventory Systems


Activities

BENEFITS
Using hybrid inventory systems for level measurement offers
the following benefits:
T Highly accurate level, density, mass, and volume
measurements
T Can be installed without removing the tank from service
T Radar unit can be used with or without a stilling well
T Conditions up to 375 oF (190 oC) and 150 psi (10 bar)
T Optional average temperature measurement
T Good for density-stratified products
T Can be used for mass, density, and volume measurement
of liquids

COMPLETE WORKBOOK EXERCISE 2.6 ON PAGE 76

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 67

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
Note: All exercise answers are located at the end of this module.

EXERCISE 2.1 WHY MEASURE LEVEL?


1. Match each level-measurement application to the correct scenario.
___ Inventory

a) During open-heart surgery, a patients blood is circulated


through a heart-lung machine. The level of blood in the reservoir
must remain at a certain level to ensure a steady blood flow to
the patient.

___ Custody transfer

b) A master brewer for a large brewery wants to know how much


beer is currently in the storage tanks.

___ Efficiency

c) A chemical manufacturer must store the hazardous waste in


underground tanks. The manufacturer must ensure that the waste
does not overflow from the storage tanks.

___ Safety

d) A food and beverage company wants to ensure that it is filling


storage tanks to their full capacity so it does not have to spend
additional money on vessels.

___ Consistent supply

e) A petroleum supplier needs to ensure that customers are charged


correctly, according to the quantity of product pumped from a
storage tank to a tanker truck.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 69

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
EXERCISE 2.2 LEVEL TERMINOLOGY
1. In the tank shown below:
The product level is ______ feet. It is ______ percent full and the product level is _____ percent of
measured span.
a) 5

a) 48%

a) 10%

b) 10

b) 50%

b) 17%

c) 20

c) 60%

c) 20%

Page 70

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
2. Match the measured level to its corresponding volume. Use either mathematical calculation
(1 cubic feet = 7.481 gallons) or the strapping table below as necessary.
___ 5,431

a) 8 ft of product in a vertical cylinder where r = 30 ft and h = 20 ft

___ 169,130

b) Product level at point 8 in Tank A

___ 313

c) 5.3 ft of product in a spherical tank where r = 10 ft

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Point

Level (in)

Volume
(gallons)

10

10

32

15

68

20

115

25

173

30

230

35

313

40

394

10

100

957

Page 71

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
EXERCISE 2.3DEVICE CHARACTERISTICS
1. Match the level measurement to its correct description. (Options can be chosen more than once.)
___ Bottom-up

a) The measuring instrument does not contact the process fluid.

___ Top-down

b) The measuring instrument directly contacts the process fluid.

___ Direct

c) An oil dipstick is an example of this level measurement


technology.

___ Indirect

d) Pressure transmitters are of this technology.

___ Contacting

e) Mass (or some other variable) is measured to determine level.

___ Non-contacting

f) The measuring device is installed at the top of the tank and it


may or may not make contact with the product.

1. Match the level measurement to its correct description.


___ Continuous

a) A toilet tank float is an example of this level measurement


technology.

___ Single point

b) Two or more single-point level measurement devices are used.

___ Multipoint

c) This level measurement technology is also called an open-loop


control system.

___ Indication

d) This level measurement technology is used for precise control.

Page 72

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
EXERCISE 2.4LEVEL MEASUREMENT DEVICE SELECTION
1. If a precise level measurement is required at all times during the process, which device should be
selected?
a) A continuous level measurement device that will provide a measurement output that reflects
changes in level throughout the process.
b) A single point level measurement device.
c) A multipoint level measurement device.
d) A dipstick.

2. If a rough indication of product level is required, which level measurement devices could be
selected? (Select all that apply.)
a) A low-cost continuous level measurement device that provides a reasonably reliable
measurement.
b) An electronic non-contacting device that provides very accurate level measurement.
c) A pressure transmitter, capacitance probe, or any level measurement device that provides visual
indication of product level.
d) A single point level measurement device is sufficient to measure the level in this case.

3. What level measurement devices would you recommend if the primary use of the level
measurement was to prevent spills? (Select all that apply.)
a) A point level measurement technology that triggers an alarm when the level reaches the top of
the tank.
b) A low-cost electronic continuous level measurement device that provides a reasonably accurate
indication of level.
c) Any level measurement device that provides a visual indication of product level.
d) A direct measurement device such as radar.

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2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 73

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
4. Given that high pressure (up to 5,000 psi) and high temperature (3001000 F) conditions exist
within a vessel, what is the appropriate level measuring technology?
a) A non-contact radar gauge
b) A pressure transmitter
c) A nuclear device
d) An ultrasonic device

5. What level measurement device is appropriate if a tank is glass-lined and located underground?
a) A radar gauge
b) A nuclear device
c) A pressure transmitter with remote seals

6. The customer should consider a(n) _________________ technology such as _______________


when measuring the level of a product that is highly viscous and sticky.
a) Intrusive

a) Nuclear

b) Bottom-up

b) Radar

c) Non-contacting

c) Capacitance

7. What is the recommended technology for asphalt level measurement?


a) A top-down, contacting technology
b) A bottom-up, non-coating technology
c) Contacting radar

8. Given that repeatability is more important than accuracy, a pressure transmitter would be a good
low-cost solution when measuring the level of a product with a relatively constant density.
a) True
b) False

Page 74

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
EXERCISE 2.5CLASSIFYING LEVEL TECHNOLOGIES
1. Match each level measurement device classification to the corresponding level measurement
device.
___ Manual / Mechanical

a) Devices in this category, such as a capacitance probe,


have no moving parts.

___ Electromechanical

b) Devices in this category never touch the process and they


have no moving parts.

___ Electronic contacting

c) Devices in this category, such as a sight glass, have no


electronic output.

___ Electronic non-contacting

d) Devices in this category have a number of moving parts


that produce an electronic output for control.

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 75

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
EXERCISE 2.6ROSEMOUNT TECHNOLOGIES
1. A customer wants to monitor inventory in a petroleum application. Select the choice below that is
not an advantage of a hybrid inventory system.
a) Hybrid inventory systems have no moving parts; this results in better reliability and less
maintenance.
b) In addition to measuring the level and the volume (also provided by a servo system), a hybrid
inventory system measures density and mass.
c) Hybrid inventory systems use strapping tables to compensate for the tanks shape in volume
calculations.
d) Hybrid inventory systems use only non-contact measurement devices.

2. Your customer wants to measure level in an outdoor storage tank. Currently, the customer keeps
track of inventory based on mass and thus must use the level measurement to calculate mass. First,
the customer converts level measurements to volume using a look-up table that relates level to
volume. The customer then needs to know the product density to find mass (D x V = M). You
would use the following statement to sell hydrostatic tank gauging (HTG) to this customer:
HTG will determine _______________ directly and provide the added benefit of calculating
volume, ______________, and level. Changes in product ________________ are automatically
compensated for in all measurements.
a) Pressure

a) Temperature

a) Temperature

b) Temperature

b) Density

b) Density

c) Mass

c) Pressure

c)

Page 76

Volume

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
3. A customer wants to measure level in a storage vessel. Currently, the customer travels halfway
across a 4-acre property to read the gauge. This customer does not require high accuracy and does
not have much money to spend on an upgrade.
Which of the following are valid reasons for the customer to opt for a pressure transmitter? (Select
all that apply.)
a) A low-cost pressure transmitter provides a level indication that can be read remotely.
b) The reading of the pressure transmitter is not affected by product density changes.
c) Level readings can be obtained without leaving the office.
d) The 420 mA signal from the transmitter can be brought back to a control system or to an
indicator in the control room.

4. In free-radiating radar technology, what are the advantages of a gauge that operates at high
frequency (26 GHz)? (Select all that apply.)
a) It has a more focused beam and a greater ability to avoid obstructions
b) Smaller antenna that achieves a stronger signal
c) There is flexibility in the mounting location
d) It works well in applications with thick layers of foam

5. Low-frequency radar gauges are more sensitive to vapor, foam, and contamination of the antenna.
a) True
b) False

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2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 77

Workbook Exercises

Workbook Exercises
6. A manager of a soft drink plant wants to measure the level of liquid in tanks for inventory
purposes. He believes that radar technologies are too expensive, difficult to install, and take up too
much valuable tank space.
Which of these advantages would help convince the manager to use radar technology? (Select all
that apply.)
a) It can measure level as well as interface level
b) It can be used in an inventory tank gauging system
c) It works well in low-di-electric and turbulent applications
d) It can be installed even in tanks with tight geometry

Page 78

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Answers

Workbook Answers
Exercise 2.1Why Measure Level?
1. Match each technology or device to the correct description.
b Inventory
___

a) During open-heart surgery, a patients blood is circulated


through a heart-lung machine. The level of blood in the reservoir
must remain at a certain level to ensure a steady blood flow to
the patient.

e Custody transfer
___

b) A master brewer for a large brewery wants to know how much


beer is currently in the storage tanks.

d
___ Efficiency

c
___ Safety

a
___ Consistent supply

c) A chemical manufacturer must store the hazardous waste in


underground tanks. The manufacturer must ensure that the waste
does not overflow from the storage tanks.
d) A food and beverage company wants to ensure that it is filling
storage tanks to their full capacity so it does not have to spend
additional money on vessels.
e) A petroleum supplier needs to ensure that customers are charged
correctly, according to the quantity of product pumped from a
storage tank to a tanker truck.

Exercise 2.2Level Terminology


1. a, b, b
2. b, c, a

Exercise 2.3Device Characteristics


1. Match the level measurement to its correct description. (Options can be chosen more than once.)
b,
d Bottom-up
___
f Top-down
___

a) The measuring instrument does not contact the process fluid.

c Direct
___

c) An oil dipstick is an example of this level measurement


technology.

e,___
d Indirect
b, c,
d Contacting
___
a Non-contacting
___

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

b) The measuring instrument directly contacts the process fluid.

d) Pressure transmitters are of this technology.


e) Mass (or some other variable) is measured to determine level.
f) The measuring device is installed at the top of the tank and it
may or may not make contact with the product.

Page 79

Workbook Answers

Workbook Answers
2. Match the level measurement to its correct description.
d Continuous
___
a) A toilet tank float is an example of this level measurement
technology.
a Single point
___
b) Two or more single-point level measurement devices are used.
b Multipoint
___

c) This level measurement technology is also called an open-loop


control system.

c Indication
___

d) This level measurement technology is used for precise control.

Exercise 2.4Level Measurement Device Selection


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

a
a, c
a, d
c
a
c, b
a
a

Exercise 2.5Classifying Level Technologies


1. Match each level measurement device classification to the corresponding level measurement
device.
c Manual / Mechanical
___

a) Devices in this category, such as a capacitance probe,


have no moving parts.

d Electromechanical
___

b) Devices in this category never touch the process and they


have no moving parts.

a Electronic contacting
___

c) Devices in this category, such as a sight glass, have no


electronic output.

b Electronic non-contacting
___

d) Devices in this category have a number of moving parts


that produce an electronic output for control.

Page 80

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Workbook Answers

Workbook Answers
Exercise 2.6Level Technologies
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

d
c, b, b
a, c, d
a, b, c
b
a, b, d
b

Level Measurement
2009 Rosemount Inc.

Page 81

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