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This file is a summary report on the determination of resistance and time constant for liquid level system.

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Flow and Time Constant for a Liquid Level System

Ricky Jay C. Gomez1

1

Student, CHE 184-1P/C21, Mapa Institute of Technology, School of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry

ABSTRACT

Aside from thermal systems, other physical example of the systems following a first-order differential behavior is the

liquid level system. Assumptions considered in such system includes that the control valves in the inlet and outlet flow

streams offer resistance to the flow of the liquid, which depends on the opening of the valve. Liquids flowing at

laminar ranges shows a linear relationship between the volumetric flowrate, resistance and the head. The transfer

function for the liquid level system involves not just the time constant, but it also accounts for the resistance of the

valve. The time constant is a function of the area of the container or tank and the resistance of the valve. The resistance

can be determined using graphical solution. The inverse of the slope of the line when Qs(t) is plotted versus the step

input change, H(t), is the resistance. Time constant can be calculated using the determined resistance. The trend of the

data suggests that the height has an asymptotic relationship with time. Supposedly, the result should show a step input.

Since there is a lag, the trend shows a nonlinear relation. In order to linearize the data, the steady-state conditions are

only considered in this case. Using this, the required parameters can be easily calculated. The results can be compared

through calculating the theoretical values for the time constant and resistance. This is by adapting the assumption that

the time corresponding to a height that is 63% of the steady-state height is the time constant.

control valve offers resistance to the flow of

Liquid level system is one of the systems that

the liquid in the tank. Therefore, when there

follows a first-order differential equation

is sudden change in the resistance of the inlet

behavior. For this particular system, a tank of

flow (i.e. changes in the valve opening),

uniform cross sectional area is being

disturbance may enter the tank system. The

considered. In addition, both inlet and outlet

exit flow may also offer disturbance to the

flows are controlled by a control valve. One

1|P a g e

system for any changes in the resistance transfer function for this system is modified

caused by the valve. in such a way to also account the effect of the

resistance of the valve, shown in (2).

()

= (2)

() + 1

gain, K. For a liquid level with constant outlet

flow, the response function is shown in (3).

Figure 1. Single tank system with control

valves for both inlet and outlet streams.

() = + (3)

For a flow system at laminar range, the

The forcing function considered in the

linearly is the linear resistance [1].

experiment is only for a step function. The

= (1)

response function for this input is shown in

(4), which is actually the theoretical height of

where qo is the volumetric flowrate the liquid in the tank.

(volume/time), h is the head and R is the

linear resistance.

() = () ( () ) (4)

Step input change follows a decaying

single tank liquid level system wherein the

exponential response from the initial height

resistance is only offered by control valve in

to its final steady-state height. At t = , the

the inlet flow stream. Previously, the transfer

height is approximately equal to the 63% of

function for the mercury in glass

the steady-state height obtained. The triple of

thermometer involves parameter such as the

corresponds to a height that is 95% of the

time constant, . On the other hand, for a

steady-state height. These percentages hold

liquid level system aside from the time

for all first-order processes [2].

constant, the transfer function also considers

the effect of the resistance. In this case, the

2|P a g e

For this experiment, the time constant of the attaining it. From the initial height to the

single tank liquid level system and the steady-state height, various height readings

resistance of the inlet flow should be were also recorded at one-minute increment.

determined using a step input function. Also,

B. Determination of the resistance and time

the steady-state inlet flowrate, Qs(t) versus

constant for a step input.

the step input change, H(t) should be plotted.

From the calibrated initial steady-state

system. This was done by a step input, where

I. Materials the volumetric flow rate in the inlet stream

The materials and equipment used in this was changed into other value by changing the

experiment were tape measure, graduated opening of the valve. From the time that the

cylinder, water container with faucet, bucket volumetric flow rate was adjusted into

and flashlight. The chemical used in this different setting, the timer recorded the time

experiment was tap water. required for the system to achieve a steady-

state height. Several data point were again

II. Procedures

gathered at every one-minute interval. The

A. Calibration of the initial steady-state steady-state height was again recorded when

height. the liquid level in the container was not

changing anymore.

Initially, the tank contains a certain amount

of water with an initial height. At a fixed III. Treatment of Results

valve opening, the water was allowed to flow

The data gathered in this experiment were the

inside the tank/container system while it is

different liquid heights at every one-minute

also simultaneously allowed to flow out

increment. From this, the steady-state

through the another valve just at the bottom

volumetric flow rate was also determined

part. The initial height changes, and a certain

getting a certain amount of volume and

height was achieved where there is no change

dividing it by the time required to achieve

occurring anymore, indicating that the height

that volume.

attained was at steady-state already. This

steady-state height achieved was recorded as

() = (5)

well as the corresponding time required in

3|P a g e

The resistance of the valve in the inlet flow RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

was determined using the plot of Qs(t) versus

The different heights of the liquid inside the

H(t). The inverse of the slope of the generated

container and the corresponding time in

line in the plot is actually the resistance [3].

achieving such height are being summarized

in Table 1 for both initial and final step input

change in the system.

from the experiment.

Initial Final

H(t), mm t, H(t), mm t,

min min

104 1 125 1

Figure 2. Qs(t) versus H(t) plot. 106 2 131 2

108 3 134 3

Using linear relationship, the time constant, 109 4 139 4

110 5 142 5

, was calculated by multiplying the area of

112 6 144 6

the container by the resistance of the valve. 114 7 148 7

115 8 152 8

= (6) 117 9 156 9

119 10 159 10

121 11 163 11

The height of the liquid in the tank is in mm, 123 12 168 12

125 13 171 13

the volumetric flow rate is in m3-min-1 and

125 14 175 14

the time is in minutes. 125 15 178 15

125 16 182 16

Also, theoretical height corresponding to the 183 17

time required for the steady-state height to 184 18

190 19

attain can be determined using (4). Another

194 20

approach in finding the time constant is 196 21

through applying the concept that the time 196 22

196 23

required to achieve 63% of the steady-state

height This could be a theoretical basis on The trend of the data suggests an asymptotic

time constant determination. relationship between the height and time

when achieving a steady-state height in the

4|P a g e

container. Supposedly, the ideal trend data 250

200

of the liquid in the container, but since there

150

H(t), min

is a lag in achieving the steady-state liquid

level, this results to an asymptotic trend. So 100

state condition was only considered in

0

determining the resistance and time constant, 0 5 10 15 20 25

so that there will be only two points to be t, min

one is for the final step. Figure 4. Step input response for the final

step.

Using graphical representation, the step input

response for the initial and final step are The steady-state volumetric flow rate and the

being depicted in the succeeding figures. corresponding height for the initial and final

step are summarized in Table 2, where the

140

Qs(t) is in m3-min-1 and H(t) is in m.

120

100

H(t), mm

80

Table 2. Summary of the q(t) and h(t) for the

60 steady-state initial and final step.

q(t) h(t)

40

Initial 0.000309 0.125

20 Final 0.000594 0.196

0

0 5 10 15 20

t, min

The plot of Qs(t) versus H(t) is shown in

Figure 5 which has a linear relationship

Figure 3. Step input response for the initial

where the points are from the steady-state

step.

conditions of the initial and final step.

5|P a g e

0.0007 For a comparative analysis, percentage error

0.0006 y = 0.004x - 0.0002

was calculated for the deviation of the actual

0.0005 R = 1

0.0004 values from the theoretical value of height

Qs(t)

0.0002

0.0001

0

0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25

H(t) Table 7. Comparative analysis on height.

Initial Final

Figure 5. Plot of Qs(t) versus H(t). 3 -1 0.000309 0.000594

Flowrate, m -min

Actual Height, m 0.125 0.196

Theoretical

0.119 0.186

Height, m

Table 6. Summary of the results. Error, % 4.8 5.6

R min-m-2 249.122807

min 11.9578947

constant.

Comparing this time constant calculated to Value

the time constant determined in the previous Actual , min 11.9578947

experiment, this could be relatively high. It Theoretical , min 13

Error, % 8.02

can be also seen in figures 3 and 4 that there

is a significant length of time required in

achieving a change in height which is

From the preceding tables, minimal error was

relatively low in magnitude. The linear

present when actual height is compared to the

approximation is based on the assumption

theoretical height. In the case of the time

that if the operating conditions does not

constant, at 63% of the final steady-state

change too much, the actual curve will not

height, the corresponding time is considered

vary much compared to its tangent line.

the theoretical time constant. The percentage

Aside from this, the time constant increases

error for the comparison of the actual and

when the area of the container is being

theoretical time constants shows a much

increased. More delays will be observed for

higher error compared to the height basis.

bigger area of the container used.

Nevertheless, this could still be considered

since there is only small deviation between

6|P a g e

the actual and theoretical values for the time REFERENCES

constant.

[1] Coughanour, D. R. 1991. Process

Systems Analysis and Control.

CONCLUSION

McGraw-Hill, Inc.

For any control system, time constant is an [2] Perry, R. H. and Green, D. W. 2008.

Perrys Chemical Engineers

important parameter because it describes how

Handbook. The McGraw-Hill

delay the process will be. For the system used Companies, Inc. 8th Edition.

in the experiment, which is the liquid level [3] Seborg, D. E., Edgar, T. F. and

system, the time constant describes how Mellichamp, D. A. 2004. Process

Dynamics and Control. John Wiley &

much lag does the system experience in Sons, Inc. 2nd Edition.

achieving a steady-state liquid level when

such disturbance enters. The resistance of the

control valve in the inlet flow can be a source

of disturbance. This may vary when

resistance changes (i.e. change in the valve

opening). In the experiment proper, the time

constant shows significant value. It can be

seen in the H(t) versus t plot that the required

time to achieve the steady-state height of the

liquid in the tank is quietly large. Also, from

the initial and final step, the trend of data

shows a linear relationship, therefore

equations following a linear relationship can

be used in the calculation of the resistance

and the time constant for the system.

corresponding to the height that 63% of the

steady-state height is the time constant of the

system. This assumption holds for any first-

order system.

7|P a g e

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