BASIC INSTRUMENTATION MEASURING DEVICES AND BASIC PID CONTROL Part 2
DP Transmitter Application
A DP transmitter is used to measure the gas pressure (in gauge scale) inside a vessel. In this case, the low-pressure side of the transmitter is vented to atmosphere and the high-pressure side is connected to the vessel through an isolating valve. The isolating valve facilitates the removal of the transmitter. The output of the DP transmitter is proportional to the gauge pressure of the gas, i.e., 4 mA when pressure is 20 kPa and 20 mA when pressure is 30 kPa.
2.1.6 Strain Gauges
The strain gauge is a device that can be affixed to the surface of an object to detect the force applied to the object. One form of the strain gauge is a metal wire of very small diameter that is attached to the surface of a device being monitored. For a metal, the electrical resistance will increase as the length of the metal increases or as the cross sectional diameter decreases. When force is applied as indicated in Figure 8, the overall length of the wire tends to increase while the cross-sectional area decreases. The amount of increase in resistance is proportional to the force that produced the change in length and area. The output of the strain gauge is a change in resistance that can be measured by the input circuit of an amplifier. Strain gauges can be bonded to the surface of a pressure capsule or to a force bar positioned by the measuring element. Shown in Figure 9 (next page) is a strain gauge that is bonded to a force beam inside the DP capsule. The change in the process pressure will cause a resistive change in the strain gauges, which is then used to produce a 4-20 mA signal.
2.1.7 Capacitance Capsule
Similar to the strain gauge, a capacitance cell measures changes in electrical characteristic. As the name implies the capacitance cell measures changes in capacitance. The capacitor is a device that stores electrical charge. It consists of metal plates separated by an electrical insulator. The metal plates are connected to an external electrical circuit through which electrical charge can be transferred from one metal plate to the other. The capacitance of a capacitor is a measure of its ability to store charge. The capacitance of the capacitance of a capacitor is directly proportional to the area of the metal plates and inversely proportional to the distance between them. It also depends on a characteristic of the insulating material between them. This characteristic, called permittivity is a measure of how well the insulating material increases the ability of the capacitor to store charge.
C = ε A/d
C is the capacitance in Farads
A is the area of the plates
D is the distance of the plates
ε is the permittivity of the insulator
By building a DP cell capsule so there are capacitors inside the cell capsule, differential pressures can be sensed by the changes in capacitance of the capacitors as the pressure across the cell is varied.
2.1.8 Impact of Operating Environment
All of the sensors described in this module are widely used in control and instrumentation systems throughout the power station. Their existence will not normally be evident because the physical construction will be enclosed inside manufacturers. packaging. However, each is highly accurate when used to measure the right quantity and within the rating of the device. The constraints are not limited to operating pressure. Other factors include temperature, vapour content and vibration.
The effect of vibration is obvious in the inconsistency of measurements, but the more dangerous result is the stress on the sensitive membranes, diaphragms and linkages that can cause the sensor to fail. Vibration can come from many sources. Some of the most common are the low level constant vibration of an unbalanced pump impeller and the larger effects of steam hammer. External vibration (loose support brackets and insecure mounting) can have the same effect.
The temperature effects on pressure sensing will occur in two main areas: The volumetric expansion of vapour is of course temperature dependent. Depending on the system, the increased pressure exerted is usually already factored in. The second effect of temperature is not so apparent. An operating temperature outside the rating of the sensor will create significant error in the readings. The bourdon tube will indicate a higher reading when exposed to higher temperatures and lower readings when abnormally cold – due to the strength and elasticity of the metal tube. This same effect applies to the other forms of sensors listed.
The content of the gas or fluid is usually controlled and known. However, it is mentioned at this point because the purity of the substance whose pressure is being monitored is of importance – whether gaseous or fluid . especially, if the device is used as a differential pressure device in measuring flow of a gas or fluid. Higher than normal density can force a higher dynamic reading depending on where the sensors are located and how they are used. Also, the vapour density or ambient air density can affect the static pressure sensor readingsand DP cell readings. Usually, lower readings are a result of the lower available pressure of the substance. However, a DP sensor located in a hot and very humid room will tend to read high.
2.1.9 Failures and Abnormalities
All of the pressure sensors we have analyzed are designed to operate over a rated pressure range. Plant operating systems rely on these pressure sensors to maintain high accuracy over that given range. Instrument readings and control functions derived from these devices could place plant operations in jeopardy if the equipment is subjected to over pressure (over range) and subsequently damaged. If a pressure sensor is over ranged, pressure is applied to the point where it can no longer return to its original shape, thus the indication would return to some value greater than the original. Diaphragms and bellows are usually the most sensitive and fast-acting of
all pressure sensors. They are also however, the most prone to fracture on over-pressuring. Even a small fracture will cause them to read low and be less responsive to pressure changes. Also, the linkages and internal movements of the sensors often become distorted and can leave a permanent offset in the measurement. Bourdon tubes are very robust and can handle extremely high pressures although, when exposed to over-pressure, they become slightly distended and will read high. Very high over-pressuring will of course rupture the tube.
Faulty Sensing Lines
Faulty sensing lines create inaccurate readings and totally misrepresent the actual pressure When the pressure lines become partially blocked, the dynamic response of the sensor is naturally reduced and it will have a slow response to change in pressure. Depending on the severity of the blockage, the sensor could even retain an incorrect zero or low reading, long after the change in vessel pressure. A cracked or punctured sensing line has the characteristic of consistently low readings. Sometimes, there can be detectable down-swings of pressure followed by slow increases.