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The phenomenal success of FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus in the refining, petrochemical, and chemical industries has led to the development of many different solutions for using fieldbus in hazardous areas. Existing solutions include flame (explosion) proof, increased safety, intrinsic safety, as well as energy limited and non-sparking (non-incendive and normally non-arcing). Standardization of new concepts for using intrinsic safety and non-incendive with fieldbus, known as FISCO (Fieldbus Intrinsically Safe COncept) and FNICO (Fieldbus Non-Incendive COncept) respectively is probably the most exciting development in the area in decades. Multiply these offerings with solutions for gas group IIC and IIB as well as the ability to mount in the panel or the field.
FISCO and FNICO have evolved from the traditional entity concept for point-to-point wiring of devices, to a bus oriented concept permitting several devices to be multidropped on the same wire sharing a single safety barrier or limiter. Within easy to apply limits, the inductance and capacitance of devices and cables need not be calculated for the FISCO/FNICO models, resulting in easier engineering and the possibility to use longer wires. Moreover, unlike a traditional entity barrier which has a linear output characteristic, a FISCO safety barrier is trapezoidal resulting in more power permitting more devices and longer wires. Intrinsic safety is the only acceptable means of power for Zone 0, and is thus the only protection method suitable for all hazardous areas. Since users want to simplify purchases, spare stocking, engineering, and maintenance practices it makes sense to standardize on intrinsic safety for all areas of the plant. For the same reasons, instrumentation and accessories built for gas group IIC is used throughout the plant even though IIB might be possible in some areas. The same goes for an Exia model as opposed to Exib model. Even so, there are several different FISCO conforming isolated intrinsic safety barriers for Exia IIC to chose from. Further study will reveal pros-and-cons of the different solutions. Safety barriers can either be mounted on a DIN-rail in a panel in the wire marshalling room, or in a suitable enclosure with cable glands closer to the field (figure 1).
Figure 1 Isolated FISCO barrier
Because safety barriers have a limited voltage output reducing wire distance due to voltage drop caused by instrument power consumption, it is often necessary to mount the barriers in an enclosure closer to the field.
The IEC 61158-2 physical layer for fieldbus permits power and communication signals on the same wire provided the power supply contains a proper impedance circuit. The inductance may either be provided by a separate power supply impedance module or built into the safety barrier. High power trunk The main wire that runs the distance from the cable marshalling room to the field is called the trunk. The cable sections that connect the field instruments to the trunk are called spurs. One safety barrier scheme puts power and communication on the same pair of trunk wires. A high capacity Ex e certified power supply impedance module provides several hundred milliamps to power safety barriers as well as field instruments connected to the barriers (figure 2).
Linking Device Ex e Power Supply & Impedance Exe Zone 1 (Division 1) Safety Barrier Exia Safety Barrier Exia
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Figure 2 High power trunk combining power and signals
When a high powered trunk is used, care shall be taken to ensure that the trunk cable has sufficient cross-section to carry the supply current the distance from the cable marshalling room to the barriers without causing an excessive voltage drop. At the same time, the cable insulation material must have stable electrical characteristics so as to meet the Fieldbus requirements not only at the time of installation, but throughout the life of the system. For example, polyethylene (PE) has proven to be a suitable insulation material for communication cables in general. Additional cost of such cable and the high current power supply impedance must be taken into account. The real purpose of the inductor in the power supply impedance is to prevent a regular DC power supply from short-circuiting the communication. Due to the trunk being high power, it does not fall within the limits of intrinsic safety. Instead the trunk is Ex e (increased safety) restricted to use in Zone 1. This can be overcome by field mounting barriers in Ex em rated enclosures, limiting the power on the spurs thus achieving intrinsic safety for the field instruments that can be connected in Zone 0. The total cost of barriers plus their Ex e enclosures must be taken into account. Installation and maintenance personnel must also be familiar with increased safety installation and wiring practices such as labelling and protection mechanisms to prevent inadvertent tampering on the energized trunk.
Separate power The IEC 61158-2 physical layer for fieldbus also permits power and communication signals on separate wires eliminating the need for a separate power supply impedance module. Although power and communication on the same wire is ideal for low-power instruments such as transmitters and control valve positioners, it is not the best option when more power is required, such as for powering safety barriers or solenoid valves. Dedicated power wires does mean a second pair of wires is required. However, this cable can be regular low cost PVC insulated cable and it does not have to meet the electrical characteristics required for Fieldbus cable. Since regular DC power and regular cable can be used, it is possible to simply tap power from the DC supply normally found in plants. The additional cabling may not be much. If AC line power is available in the safe area, the DC power supply can be mounted right next to the barriers. On the safe area side of the barriers the communication and power share the same pair of wires, suitable for fieldbus instrumentation.
Linking Device Regular Power Supply Repeating Safety Barrier Repeating Safety Barrier
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Figure 3 Separate cables for power and signal in the safe area, shared in the hazardous area
Using this separated scheme the installation becomes a clear-cut Ex ia IIC everywhere throughout the hazardous areas, and regular in the non-classified areas. There is no need to fall back to Ex e or Ex ib, or down to IIB in order to get economy. The same scheme and the same barrier works for both FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus H1 as well as PROFIBUS PA.
One of the greatest advantages of intrinsic safety is that it is possible to work on the wires and devices while they are energized. This makes maintenance a lot easier as there is no need to power off before working on the wires, nor any need to manage hot work permits and "sniff" for gas before the job can actually be done. This is particularly important for fieldbus where many devices are connected on the same pair of wires, i.e. switching off the power would affect many devices, not just one. Using an Ex e trunk it is not permitted to do any live work on the trunk. Although it may rarely be necessary to do so, it is a limitation. On the other hand, using an Ex ia trunk live working is
permitted also on the trunk. This gives greater freedom to do maintenance while the plant is running.
As the fieldbus signal travels down a long wire it gets distorted and attenuated, eventually to the point where receiving devices cannot pick up the signal reliably. This is one of the factors limiting network size (figure 4).
Figure 4 After traveling long distances signals are distorted and attenuated
A repeater is a device that picks up a weak fieldbus signal on one port, boosts and retimes it as it is transmitted on the other port. This permits the fieldbus signal to travel longer distances.
Figure 5 Signal re-timed and boosted by repeater
The repeater connects small bus segments together to form a larger network, or you could say a repeater splits a large network into smaller segments - whichever way you prefer to look at it. It should be noted that in correct terminology a fieldbus network is made up by several bus segments connected by repeaters The most advanced safety barriers in the market have repeaters built in. This results in a better signal and fewer communication errors. This is an important characteristics to look for.
FISCO permits the hazardous area segment to be up to 1,000 m in total length and this is not limited by device and cable capacitance as long as devices are FISCO certified and cable within specified boundaries are used. One limitation, however, is imposed by voltage drop along the wires as a result of the current drawn from the devices on the bus. To maximize the cable distance for the instruments, use devices with low power consumption. Transmitters and valve positioners with power consumption as low as 12 mA is available in the market by leading suppliers. Secondly, use safety barriers with a high voltage output, to give the greatest possible margin for voltage drop between the barrier and device. FISCO barriers with 14 VDC operating output is available, giving a 5 VDC margin for drop along the wire since devices can operate down to 9 VDC. The longer the FISCO wires the barrier type can support, the further the wires can run into the hazardous area, permitting the barriers to be mounted in the non-classified area, avoiding even Zone 1 and Zone 2 barrier location. This simplifies installation and service. Barriers that have no repeater means the fieldbus will consist of only a single network segment, restricting the distance to a max of only 120 m from barrier to device. One such cable may not reach many devices if they are dispersed. This type of barrier therefore has multiple outputs and may therefore be more expensive. Spurs with one device each is connected to the barrier. These spurs need no terminators since they are l20 m or less. The primary purpose of the terminator in fieldbus is as a shunt to convert transmitted current from the sender to a voltage that is received by all devices.
A safety barrier providing both intrinsically safe trunk and spurs is very small since it only has to contain circuitry for a single output. A single DIN rail mounted module only 22.5 mm wide is sufficient to power four devices. Such a compact barrier saves precious panel space.
Figure 6 Compact barriers saves precious panel space
High power solenoids are used to reliably open and close pneumatic on/off valves, eliminating the need for pilot operated valves. Typically an on/off valve has two proximity switches to detect that the valve has indeed reached fully open and fully closed position respectively. Thus a group of eight
on/off valves require 8 DO and 16 DI points. Contrary to popular belief, FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus has many good solutions for handling discrete I/O.
Figure 7 Remote I/O provides 16 DI and 8 DO for Fieldbus
One such discrete remote I/O box that has been used in plants for several years uses the same scheme of separated power and communication in order to easily deliver lots of power on fat low cost PVC cable while using high-end cable for the fieldbus communication signal.
Linking Device Regular Power Supply Repeating Safety Barrier Repeating Safety Barrier Remote I/O
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Zone 0 (Division 1)
Figure 8 Complete solution of safety barriers and remote discrete I/O
The Fieldbus I/O box also contains built-in logic similar to a mini-PLC based on flexible function block technology, capable of handling most of the logic in the field, linking only I/O that takes part in complex interlocks to other devices thus minimizing bandwidth requirement. Apart from being used in a special application as a valve coupler, the more sophisticated devices can be used as a generic discrete I/O for all kinds of switches, buttons, and motors etc. The remote I/O box solution provides excellent economy for interfacing discrete signals to Fieldbus by eliminating the need for point-to-point wiring as well as also eliminating the need to incorporate additional bus technologies to the system. By limiting the mix of bus technologies the complexity of the system is reduced thus simplifying maintenance. Since both continuous control and interlocks are handled on the same bus, there is no need to route the signals through a mishmash of interface and controller cards, or gateways.
The phenomenal success of fieldbus has brought about a wealth of solutions for using these bus technologies in hazardous areas. For high-power devices such as safety barriers and on/off valve couplers, separating the bulk power supply from the communications makes good sense.
1. Berge, Jonas. Fieldbuses for Process Control: Engineering, Operation and Maintenance, ISA The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society, 2002