Instrumentation is the art of measuring the value of some plant parameter, pressure, flow, level or temperature to name a few and supplying a signal that is proportional to the measured parameter. The output signals are standard signal and can then be processed by other equipment to provide indication, alarms or automatic control. There are a number of standard signals; however, those most common in a CANDU plant are the 4-20 mA electronic signal and the 20-100 kPa pneumatic signal. This section of the course is going to deal with the instrumentation equipment normal used to measure and provide signals. We will look at the measurement of five parameters: pressure, flow, level, temperature, and neutron flux.

This module will examine the theory and operation of pressure detectors (bourdon tubes, diaphragms, bellows, forced balance and variable capacitance). It also covers the variables of an operating environment (pressure, temperature) and the possible modes of failure.

2.1.1 General Theory

Pressure is probably one of the most commonly measured variables in the power plant. It includes the measurement of steam pressure; feed water pressure, condenser pressure, lubricating oil pressure and many more. Pressure is actually the measurement of force acting on area of surface. We could represent this as: The units of measurement are either in pounds per square inch (PSI) in British units or Pascals (Pa) in metric. As one PSI is approximately 7000 Pa, we often use kPa and MPa as units of pressure.

2.1.2 Pressure Scales
Before we go into how pressure is sensed and measured, we have to establish a set of ground rules. Pressure varies depending on altitude above sea level, weather pressure fronts and other conditions. The measure of pressure is, therefore, relative and pressure measurements are stated as either gauge or absolute. Gauge pressure is the unit we encounter in everyday work (e.g., tire ratings are in gauge pressure). A gauge pressure device will indicate zero pressure when bled down to atmospheric pressure (i.e., gauge pressure is referenced to atmospheric pressure). Gauge pressure is denoted by a (g) at the end of the pressure unit [e.g., kPa (g)]. Absolute pressure includes the effect of atmospheric pressure with the gauge pressure. It is denoted by an (a) at the end of the pressure unit [e.g., kPa (a)]. An absolute pressure indicator would indicate atmospheric pressure when completely vented down to atmosphere – it would not indicate scale zero. Absolute Pressure = Gauge Pressure + Atmospheric Pressure Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between absolute and gauge. Note that the base point for gauge scale is [0 kPa (g)] or standard atmospheric pressure 101.3 kPa (a). The majority of pressure measurements in a plant are gauge. Absolute measurements tend to be used where pressures are below atmosphere. Typically this is around the condenser and vacuum building.

2.1.3 Pressure Measurement
The object of pressure sensing is to produce a dial indication, control operation or a standard (4 – 20 mA) electronic signal that represents the pressure in a process. To accomplish this, most pressure sensors translate pressure into physical motion that is in proportion to the applied pressure. The most common pressure sensors or primary pressure elements are described below. They include diaphragms, pressure bellows, bourdon tubes and pressure capsules. With these pressure sensors, physical motion is proportional to the applied pressure within the operating range. You will notice that the term differential pressure is often used. This term refers to the difference in pressure between two quantities, systems or devices

2.1.4 Common Pressure Detectors
Bourdon Tubes
Bourdon tubes are circular-shaped tubes with oval cross sections (refer to Figure 2). The pressure of the medium acts on the inside of the tube. The outward pressure on the oval cross section forces it to become rounded. Because of the curvature of the tube ring, the bourdon tube then bends as indicated in the direction of the arrow. Due to their robust construction, bourdon are often used in harsh environments and high pressures, but can also be used for very low pressures; the response time however, is slower than the bellows or diaphragm.
Bellows type elements are constructed of tubular membranes that are convoluted around the circumference (see Figure 3). The membrane is attached at one end to the source and at the other end to an indicating device or instrument. The bellows element can provide a long range of motion (stroke) in the direction of the arrow when input pressure is applied.
A diaphragm is a circular-shaped convoluted membrane that is attached to the pressure fixture around the circumference (refer to Figure 4). The pressure medium is on one side and the indication medium is on the other. The deflection that is created by pressure in the vessel would be in the direction of the arrow indicated. Diaphragms provide fast acting and accurate pressure indication. However, the movement or stroke is not as large as the bellows
There are two different devices that are referred to as capsule. The first is shown in figure 5. The pressure is applied to the inside of the capsule and if it is fixed only at the air inlet it can expand like a balloon. This arrangement is not much different from the diaphragm except that it expands both ways. The capsule consists of two circular shaped, convoluted membranes (usually stainless steel) sealed tight around the circumference. The pressure acts on the inside of the capsule and the generated stroke movement is shown by the direction of the arrow. The second type of capsule is like the one shown in the differential pressure transmitter (DP transmitter) in figure 7. The capsule in the bottom is constructed with two diaphragms forming an outer case and the interspace is filled with viscous oil. Pressure is applied to both side of the diaphragm and it will deflect towards the lower pressure. To provide over-pressurized protection, a solid plate with diaphragmmatching convolutions is usually mounted in the center of the capsule. Silicone oil is then used to fill the cavity between the diaphragms for even pressure transmission. Most DP capsules can withstand high static pressure of up to 14 Mpa (2000 psi) on both sides of the capsule without any damaging effect. However, the sensitive range for most DP capsules is quite low. Typically, they are sensitive up to only a few hundred kPa of differential pressure. Differential pressure that is significantly higher than the capsule range may damage the capsule permanently.

2.1.5 Differential Pressure Transmitters
Most pressure transmitters are built around the pressure capsule concept. They are usually capable of measuring differential pressure (that is, thedifference between a high pressure input and a low pressure input) and therefore, are usually called DP transmitters or DP cells. Figure 6 illustrates a typical DP transmitter. A differential pressure capsule is mounted inside a housing. One end of a force bar is connected
to the capsule assembly so that the motion of the capsule can be transmitted to outside the housing. A sealing mechanism is used where the force bar penetrates the housing and also acts as the pivot point for the force bar. Provision is made in the housing for high- pressure fluid to be applied on one side of the capsule and low-pressure fluid on the other. Any difference in pressure will cause the capsule to deflect and create motion in the force bar. The top end of the force bar is then connected to a position detector, which via an electronic system will produce a 4 – 20 mA signal that is proportional to the force bar movement.

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