Friday 31 March 2023

Measuring hydrogen in the fuel cell.

The leading developer and manufacturer of core parts for automotive electronic management systems in South Korea has recently launched a hydrogen leak detector that provides reliable real-time monitoring. To achieve maximum durability even in the harshest environments, Hyundai Kefico relies on Sensirion sensors.

“Sensirion and Hyundai Kefico are both committed to creating a cleaner and more sustainable world. Thanks to this valuable partnership, we have succeeded in developing a hydrogen detector sensor that achieves maximum durability and reliability even in the harshest environments. Together, we are striving to achieve our goal.” Moonsung Shin, Team manager of Sensor Design at Hyundai Kefico.

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have become increasingly important in recent years as the demand for cleaner alternatives to petrol and natural gas has grown. FCEVs are similar to other electric vehicles in that they use electricity to power an electric motor. What sets them apart, however, is that FCEVs generate electricity using a fuel cell that is powered by hydrogen, rather than drawing electricity from a battery alone. In the fuel cell stack, pure hydrogen (H2) flows through a membrane and combines with atmospheric oxygen (O2) to produce electricity. However, because hydrogen has a lower ignition energy than petrol or natural gas and therefore ignites more easily, there is a risk of explosion if the hydrogen leaks.

The answer to this problem is a sensor that constantly monitors the level of hydrogen in the fuel cell. To minimize vehicle failures, Hyundai Kefico has developed a hydrogen gas sensor that detects even the smallest hydrogen leaks in vehicles in real time, ensuring driver safety. Once a hydrogen leak is detected, the sensor outputs a signal in the form of analog voltages. The vehicle can then initiate all relevant safety mechanisms to prevent breakdowns. This makes the sensor ideal for applications such as fuel tanks, delivery systems and fuel cell stacks.

@sensirion #Automotive

Testing water consumption in appliances.

A major appliance manufacturer selected its FTI Flow Technology's QCT_PA12 in-line ultrasonic flow meter for testing water consumption in appliances. FTI will supply over 150 flow meters in 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch sizes for the testing program. The QCT_PA12 Series flow meter was preferred for its high accuracy and reliability over the flow range.

“The QCT_PA12 Series flow meter is ideal for large-scale, low-viscosity liquid flow measuring applications like this testing program," said Ralph Duffill, president of FTI Flow Technology LLC. "Water is too important to waste, and the flow meter's excellent accuracy and zero maintenance will be real assets in the manufacture of high-efficiency appliances that will use less water. 

The QCT_PA12 Series in-line ultrasonic flow meter is a highly accurate, rugged, compact, and lightweight instrument for use in low-viscosity liquid applications requiring excellent accuracy and reliability. Constructed from Nylon-12 (PA12) material, the flow meter has no moving parts, a non-wetted sensor, and nothing in the flow stream to cause an obstruction to the flow path. Accuracy is +/-0.5 percent of reading plus zero stability and repeatability is +/-0.2 percent over 10:1 calibration range. It has a 0.035 to 250 GPM flow range, 14°F to 176°F (-10°C to 80°C) temperature range, and analog, scaled frequency and Modbus RTU outputs. The QCT_PA12 Series meter is available in sizes 1/8 inch to 2 inches.

The QCT_PA12 Series is an exceptional solution for measuring low-viscosity liquids in a number of industries, such as chemical, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, plastics, power generation, pulp & paper, semiconductor, and steel. The meter’s construction also makes it the meter of choice for many high purity and corrosive liquids. Typical applications include water treatment for boilers and cooling towers, clean-in-place (CIP) systems, mechanical seal flushing/cooling, process water, cooling loops, reverse osmosis (RO) systems, small-line injection systems, and larger DI water distribution systems and high-purity filtration systems. 

@FlowTechnology #Water #PAuto

Filter Regulators allow manufacturers to single-source complete valve piloting solutions.

The new ASCO™ Series 641, 642 and 643 Aluminum Filter Regulators, which maximise process efficiency and reduce unplanned downtime in a broad range of process applications, have been announced by Emerson. This line of durable, aluminum filter regulators can handle the highest flow rates of any regulators in their class and provides precise pressure regulation to downstream instruments.

An alternative to stainless steel filter regulators, ASCO Series 641, 642 and 643 Aluminum Filter Regulators complete Emerson’s full suite of valve piloting technologies. This allows process manufacturers to source their total valve piloting solutions, including solenoid valves, switch boxes, filter regulators and accessories, from one global technology partner.

By using one supplier, manufacturers can simplify their supply chains, improve design accuracy and access comprehensive engineering support. Designing a valve piloting solution that includes technologies from different suppliers splits vendor responsibility and can introduce an opportunity for error.

“Sourcing valve piloting technology from multiple vendors is time-consuming and complicates supply chains, while limited options for conventional filter regulators leave some customers with unmet needs,” said Mike Howells, marketing manager, process applications for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Emerson. “Our new ASCO Series 641, 642 and 643 Aluminum Filter Regulators simplify sourcing for our customers and ensures that they have industry-leading technology that enhances process efficiency, safety and reliability.”

With the market’s highest flow rate capabilities of up to 370.8 standard cubic feet per minute (10,500 liters per minute), the aluminum filter regulators improve process efficiency and ensure that stringent process valve opening/closing requirements like those for emergency shutdown valves are met. Higher flow rates provide more air to the valve actuator, which increases the opening and closing speed of process valves. Depending on the application, slow valve closures can increase safety risks.

These robust filter regulators feature rugged construction and advanced engineering that further enhance safety and maintain plant uptime, while specialized powder coating ensures reliable operation in harsh, corrosive process environments. Effective moisture removal keeps media dry to protect downstream devices, and sophisticated media filtration prevents downstream process contamination.

This three-tiered regulator line provides a .25-inch to 1-inch coverage and is highly customizable. Process manufacturers can choose advanced features such as Quick Relief, which enhances safety and operational certainty by exhausting downstream pressure if supply air pressure is lost, as well as low-temperature and low-copper variants, manual and automatic draining, global certifications, and many other options that serve specific applications, in the chemical, oil and gas, energy and utilities, food and beverage, and water and wastewater industries.

@EMR_Automation @Emerson_News @EmersonExchange @ASCOValve @mepaxIntPR #PAuto

Thursday 30 March 2023

Board of directors elected.

CAN in Automation (CiA), the CAN users’ and manufacturers’ association, has elected the CiA board of directors as well as the members of the CiA Business Committee and the CiA Technical Committee.

Magnus Hell
Magnus Hell (Infineon) was elected as CiA Technical Director. Christian Schlegel (CHS Consulting) was re-elected as CiA Business Director and Holger Zeltwanger continues as the CiA Managing Director. <p>

The nonprofit organisation with about 750 members develops CAN-related specifications. This includes the CAN XL ecosystem with protocol specifications, implementation guidelines, and network design recommendations. In the last year, more than two billion CAN nodes have been installed.

The elected members of the CiA Business Committee are Emotas, ESD, HMS, Microcontrol, and Vector. The CiA Technical Committee comprises the following elected members: Bosch, Emotas, ESD, Microcontrol, and Vector.

@CANopen #PAuto #Fieldbus

Threat modeling company joins cybersecurity conformance scheme.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) announced today that IriusRisk SL has joined ISCI as a Technical Member in support of the ISASecure® Cybersecurity Conformance Scheme.

Charles Marrow, Head of Center of Excellence at IriusRisk, comments: “ISCI’s pursuit of better security standards across a broad range of industries is such important work. Threat modeling and risk assessments can also play a pivotal role in this: all organizations operating in the industrial, automotive, transport and medical industries should be doing it on a regular basis, building in security from the very beginning of the software development lifecycle.”

IriusRisk has worked with several organizations to help them overcome the complexity of manual threat modeling with the IriusRisk Automated Threat Modeling platform, an automation engine, extensive security standards, and integration with major issue trackers. As a result engineering teams have access to a self-service tool for designing secure applications. This automation process can guide each company’s approach to compliance, and prioritize risk, based on each unique security, governance, and compliance requirement.

The ISASecure certification program is an industry-led effort composed of the leading stakeholders in the process industry. It assesses ICS products and systems to ensure they are robust against network attacks, free from known vulnerabilities, and meet the security capabilities defined in the ISA/IEC 62443 standards.

A key differentiator of the ISASecure program is its inclusion of end users in its certification development process. End user members directly contribute to ISASecure certification development, ensuring their needs are reflected in the certification requirements.

Andre Ristaino, ISA Managing Director, Consortia and Conformance Programs welcomes IriusRisk as a new ISASecure member: “Companies like IriusRisk are key to enabling adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standards for supplier companies. Commercial tools that simplify the threat analysis and compliance tasks during product development remove barriers to applying the ISA/IEC 62443 standards.”

@IriusRisk @ISA_Interchange #ISCI #Cybersecurity

O-RAN test solution.

The ORAN Test Platform MX772000PC and O-RAN* Distributed Unit (O-DU) Emulator Platform Software MX773000PC solution for efficient evaluation of O-RAN Radio Units (O-RUs) has been introduced by Anritsu. The integrated solution creates a flexible and efficient test environment to ensure O-RU performance is compliant with O-RAN and 3GPP standards.
Automated O-RU testing is achieved with the MX772000PC software, so engineers can simply create necessary test sequences using an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). The MX773000PC emulates O-DU operation for conformance testing considering real field scenario of O-RU synchronization, by evaluating S-Plane Timing Error Injection testing on the O-RU based on O-RAN.WG4.CONF specifications.

The software supports the O-RAN Fronthaul specifications and assumes a reduction in clock quality due to synchronization drift caused by multi-vendor compatibility issues, multi-stage switch connections, and transmission equipment. Easy creation and editing of M-Plane messages for connection to the O-RU is supported to reduce errors when creating M-Plane message sequences. Configuration of the CUSM-Plane can be done using a single application, as well.

Anritsu has developed these new dedicated software packages to support efficient O-RAN Fronthaul tests to ensure compatibility between multi-vendor equipment typically designed into O-RAN networks. In addition to the software, the solution features an O-RAN Radio Test Solution that serves as an O-DU emulator on a COTS Dell server using an accelerator card and the Radio Communication Test Station MT8000A base station emulator that are controlled by a PC.

* 0-RAN: An Open RAN, or Open Radio Access Network is a concept based on interoperability and standardization of RAN elements including a unified interconnection standard for white-box hardware and open source software elements from different vendors.

@AnritsuEMEA @Anritsu @NapierPR #TandM 

Ethernet-APL is ready to use.

Endress+Hauser is soon launching a full portfolio of Ethernet-APL* measuring devices that transmit data via the PROFINET protocol.

Expectations in the process industry for the new physical layer are enormous. Now, Ethernet-APL has shown that it can meet these expectations. Endress+Hauser successfully conducted two load tests of a realistic Ethernet-APL setup with components from various manufacturers. The results confirm the new technology’s reputation as a game-changer in industrial communication.

Easy data access thanks to Ethernet-APL

The load tests were designed according to customer specifications to prove that components from different manufacturers can be combined to create a reliable and robust system based on Ethernet-APL. The global chemical company BASF defined the requirements from the customers’ point of view. On the hardware suppliers’ side, Endress+Hauser stood next to Pepperl+Fuchs, Honeywell and ABB. Their components were confirmed to work together in harmony.

Successful load tests prove market readiness of Ethernet-APL.
The first test was set up with nearly 240 Endress+Hauser measuring devices, including flow, pressure, temperature and level sensors. They were integrated into a system with Pepperl+Fuchs’ field switches and a Honeywell control system, all using Ethernet-APL and PROFINET. For the second test ABB provided the control system and was tested along with the previous field switches and measuring devices.

The test results were conclusive: Ethernet-APL can be used under realistic circumstances. The test cases were carried out with maximum network layout, and the scalability and fault tolerance were successfully verified. All relevant requirements like total netload or redundancy switch-over times were met or exceeded.

Open Integration partner program enabled and supported tests.
The Endress+Hauser Open Integration partner program unites more than a dozen manufacturers that want to ensure the streamlined interaction of their complementary products. The partners test and document the integration of their offerings and how digitalization may be fully utilized within typical process automation applications.

According to Jörg Reinkensmeier, head of the Open Integration partner program at Endress+Hauser, “The load tests proved that Ethernet-APL can be used for real. The components from various manufacturers work together smoothly, and the systems run reliably. We are proud that the close cooperation with our Open Integration partners made it possible to validate this technology. We have reached a milestone of bringing Ethernet to the field level of process automation.”

Ethernet-APL opens new possibilites for data use.
Ethernet-APL enables the use of Ethernet at the field level of process plants. The 2-wire technology with power and communication over the same wire pair meets the requirements of even harsh process environments. Fast and digital data transmission with high bandwidth is now possible over long distances and in explosive atmospheres. Easy access to data from field instruments can lift process automation to a new level of efficiency and professionalism.

With the success of the load test, BASF, Endress+Hauser, Pepperl+Fuchs, Honeywell and ABB have taken a significant step towards a technological infrastructure that is open, future-proof and ready for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This will enable customers to create more flexible, efficient and cost-effective industrial systems and more benefits for the industry.

* Ethernet-APL is the ruggedized, two-wire, loop-powered Ethernet physical layer that uses 10BASE-T1L plus extensions for installation within the demanding operating conditions and hazardous areas of process plants.

@Endress_US @Endress_Hauser @Endress_UK #PAuto #Automation

Remote telemetry systems can help overcome the biggest cybersecurity threats.

Attackers will always find new ways to penetrate systems, and companies are continually assessing how their systems might be attacked and how much money it will cost to protect them. Here, Philippe Willems, engineering manager at Ovarro, the specialist in remote telemetry systems, discusses the enduring challenge for critical infrastructure companies and what it means for suppliers.

According to research by Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $8 trillion (€7.36trl) in 2023 and grow to $10.5 trillion (€9.66trl) by 2025.

For any critical infrastructure company, the biggest cybersecurity hazard is an attacker taking control of its IT or operational technology (OT) systems to steal data, or block and disrupt operations. This risk is heightened because many of these companies still use legacy systems installed many years, if not decades, ago. These systems have minimal cybersecurity features, if any. They present a huge digital attack surface, which means there are many pathways along which a would-be attacker can gain unauthorised access to the company’s computers or networks. Protecting this insecure legacy infrastructure may seem like a daunting challenge. The main task for managers for critical infrastructure companies is to update or protect their existing control systems. But how should they go about this? Here are five questions to help these companies protect their systems from attacks.

Who is behind threats and attacks to critical infrastructure, and what are their motives?
There are three main attacker types. Those who hack for the sake of doing it — they are perhaps the least concerning. Then there are attackers who want to block access to computer systems using malicious software, such as ransomware, until a sum of money is paid. The most dangerous and unnoticed threat comes from state-backed attackers, trying to gain access to critical infrastructure in what is called cyber-warfare.

What steps should companies take to protect their systems from attacks?
Companies must first undertake a full assessment of their security systems and asset management to identify the correct steps to protect them. Actions might include replacing existing unsecured equipment with cyber-secure devices using firewalls, segregating IT and OT networks, or blocking unauthorised users from accessing critical operational networks.

How important is collaboration between critical infrastructure companies, and their supply chain partners, to cybersecurity?
Critical infrastructure companies and their suppliers must use the same standards such as IEC 62443, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) regulations that address cybersecurity for operational technology in automation and control systems.

A remote telemetry specialist partner like Ovarro can provide systems and certified devices that meet IEC 62443, but these must be correctly installed and configured by the system integrator. The owner, the critical infrastructure company, must then enforce best practices from their employees and other authorised users. Unless all these practices are implemented correctly, the cybersecurity of the whole system will remain vulnerable to attacks.

How can companies maintain awareness of emerging threats in their systems?
To minimise risks of cyberattacks, it is important that cyber security incidents and software vulnerabilities are handled in a proper and timely manner.

Likewise, common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) allow organizations to keep track of, compare and prioritise vulnerabilities over time. CVEs help companies understand their if compatible products have been reviewed for specific security issues. For instance, if any vulnerabilities are detected in its products or service, Ovarro publishes detailed security advisories to inform its customers of technical details and mitigation information, and direct them to software updates and workarounds.

How important is external product testing?

Thorough testing, including by external specialists, is vital. Network assets, including remote telemetry systems, should be subjected to multiple stages of testing. First, in-house by engineers in charge of the development. Then, by a dedicated team assigned to software tests. Another stage of testing is to provide beta versions to selected customers who help test the systems in real-world situations.

Ovarro works with cybersecurity specialists for penetration testing and to ensure its products are protected from threats through a continuous process of learning, monitoring and updating. The TBox remote telemetry unit (RTU), for example, includes a firewall that can be used to protect downstream devices in the field and to forbid unauthorised accesses and protocols. In addition, a virtual private network (VPN) is available to add a cybersecure layer of protection.

Even though cyberattackers will continue to find new ways to penetrate systems, by applying the these processes to update or protect their existing control systems, managers for critical infrastructure companies can stay one step ahead of evolving cybersecurity challenges.

@ovarro_ltd @StoneJunctionPR @CybersecuritySF #PAuto #Cybersecurity

Edge products industrial IT integration,

The edgeConnector products and the edgeAggregator from Softing Industrial offer a range of functionalities in version 3.40 that make integration into IT solutions much easier.

The Docker-based software modules of their edgeConnector product family provide access to process data in SIMATIC S7, SINUMERIK 840D and Modbus TCP controllers. The edgeAggregator, which is also Docker-based, provides an OPC UA data integration layer in conjunction with a Docker-based IoT edge solution. This allows various OPC UA servers of the automation level to be grouped together with their associated address spaces. The aggregated data can then be made available to IT applications via a consistent OPC UA interface.

Version 3.40 of the edge products includes a number of new features that greatly facilitate integration with standard Docker IT solutions. These include:

  • Metrics support for Prometheus - enables the collection and analysis of metrics using the Prometheus query language. Metrics can be stored in applications such as Prometheus and made available for queries. There is also the possibility to send alerts based on the collected metrics.
  • Logging for container management platforms such as Kubernetes and Portainer - this streams logging information to the standard output interface of a Docker container and can be used by container management platforms such as Kubernetes or Portainer.
  • Support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) - enabling integration with centrally hosted authentication solutions.
  • Support for the latest MQTT protocol version 5 as well as MQTT Store and Forward and MQTT Trigger Enhancement. Store and Forward guarantees protection against data loss. If the connection is interrupted, the data is temporarily stored and automatically transferred after the connection is restored. The MQTT Trigger Enhancement enables the creation of extensive and complex triggers for MQTT messages thanks to the new support of LUA scripts.

With version 3.40 of its edge products, Softing Industrial continues its commitment to improving connectivity at the interface of OT and IT and facilitating the use of standard IT management and monitoring solutions.

@SoftingIA @mepaxIntPR #PAuto #Communications

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Duct-mounted carbon dioxide transmitter.

Vaisala has expanded its product portfolio for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) products by launching the new Vaisala GMD110 carbon dioxide transmitter to support the growing demand for building energy efficiency and sustainability.

The Vaisala GMD110 is designed for measuring carbon dioxide in air-handling systems and ventilation ducts in industrial and commercial environments. The GMD110 has unique capabilities in terms of precision and measurement stability, which support precise and reliable control of HVAC systems even in demanding conditions or sites. The GMD110 is the perfect choice for demand-controlled ventilation systems and duct-mounted CO2 monitoring in industrial settings.

This IP65-rated transmitter is equipped with the renowned Vaisala CARBOCAP® sensor: Its structure and reference measurement capabilities make this single-beam, dual-wavelength NDIR sensor extremely reliable with low maintenance needs. Measurement accuracy is not affected by dust, water vapor or chemicals.

The new carbon dioxide Vaisala GMD110 Carbon Dioxide Transmitter has an excellent response time, and is supplied with a calibration certificate. The product will be available during the second quarter of 2023.

@VaisalaGroup @VaisalaSuomi @_Enviro_News #HVAC

Industrial connectivity roadshow for Ireland.

will be in Ireland visiting companies next month (On April 25th, 26th and 27th, 2023). They are scheduling private presentations and welcome expressions of interest.

The purpose of this visit is to present their new IoT Connectivity Solutions for Industry 4.0 projects, clarify doubts about industrial connectivity protocols and advise about the new trends in terms of data movement. They are dedicated to industrial connectivity projects based on different protocols like OPC, MQTT, REST, etc

Interested parties may sign up directly here: Matrikon Roadshow 2023 in Ireland.

@MatrikonOPC #Pauto #IoT #Ireland

Ultra-rugged connectivity for IIoT.

Ultra-robust Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) and USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity solutions have been released by Fischer Connectors. They are designed to meet the specific requirements of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications in rugged environments.

With the increase in sensor density, actuators and controllers in Industry 4.0 and IIoT operational settings, high power levels and massive amounts of data must be securely and efficiently managed through ultra-fast transmission lines with cables running over long distances. Miniature connectors and cables are needed to interconnect smaller and smaller devices and sensors in areas that are sometimes confined and hard to access. And connectivity must be ruggedized to resist shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, water and corrosion when exposed to demanding environmental and chemical conditions, both indoors and outdoors.

To address these challenges, Fischer Connectors has developed new high-speed data and power connectivity solutions combining Single Pair Ethernet and USB 3.2 Gen 2 high-speed protocols with the rugged, high-density and miniature features of its flagship product lines. They enable space-saving and cost-efficient integration in industrial automation and robotics, chemical plants, food processing, automotive production lines, outdoor sensing and unmanned systems.

The Single Pair Ethernet solutions from the Fischer Core and Fischer UltiMate™ Series allow for 1 Gbit/s data transfer per IEEE 802.3bp - 1000Base-T1. Exceptionally rugged by any market standards, they outperform other suppliers’ SPE solutions in terms of security, durability, as well as environmental and mechanical performance. Fischer SPE is compliant with MIL-STD norms (through Fischer UltiMate™) and offers 10,000 mating cycles, three locking mechanisms (push-pull, screw, quick-release), and hermetic sealing in addition to IP68/ IP69 ratings. SPE is also featured in the ultra-miniature Fischer MiniMax™ connector in ‘size 06’ (Ø 10 mm receptacle).

The demand for USB 3.0+ protocol is high in Industry 4.0 operations, as it offers high data transfer rates with low latency for IIoT control applications, nearly twice the power output than USB 2.0 (900 mA vs. 500 mA), better power efficiency due to lower consumption in idle state, and larger bandwidth. Fischer MiniMax™ connectors with USB 3.2 Gen 2 allow for 10 Gbit/s data transfer, offer additional power contacts up to 8 A, and are half the size of some competitor connectors with similar speed but no power.

To accompany its product release, Fischer Connectors has published a trend paper entitled “The Connectivity Challenge – Connecting Industry 4.0”. It describes three challenges facing OEM engineers designing IIoT applications, as well as three innovation practices addressing cybersecurity, global logistics and Edge/Cloud infrastructure.

The innovation-driven IIoT market is growing exponentially. With billions of smart sensors, computers and machines connected and operating across the Internet, experts expect an annual increase of over 20%, reaching CHF 1.5 trillion by 2030.

@FischerConnect @NapierPR #PAuto #IIoT

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Recognising progress towards net zero emissions.

Global technology and software company Emerson has received the 2023 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy. The Energy Management award recognises companies that have superior energy management programmes and have demonstrated their commitment to environmental protection and continuous improvement in their buildings and facilities.

Emerson has tracked and benchmarked energy usage at more than 200 global sites that are designated ‘major energy-consuming facilities’, as well as over 500 other offices and service centres. Over the past four years, Emerson has conducted dozens of ‘Energy Treasure Hunts’ and implemented an array of energy-saving measures, resulting in a 45% reduction in scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions and a 23% reduction in energy intensity compared to a 2018 baseline.

“This award recognises the significant strides made by Emerson’s ‘Greening Of’ initiative to improve our environmental sustainability performance and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our global operations by 2030,” said Mike Train, Emerson’s chief sustainability officer. “We are on a strong path forward and will continue to drive an aggressive sustainability agenda to create tangible change not only for our company, but also for the broader communities we serve.”

In addition to energy efficiency programmes, Emerson has also focused on sourcing renewable electricity and constructing on-site generation systems at facilities around the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, China and the United States. Recently, the company installed a new rooftop solar array at its Boulder, Colorado campus to generate over 400 MWh of clean power for the site’s direct consumption each year. Additionally, major Emerson operations in Missouri (US) have transitioned to sourcing 80,000 MWh of renewable power each year from wind farms in neighbouring Kansas (US), driving significant reductions in the company’s operational carbon footprint.

“As we accelerate historic efforts to address climate change, public-private partnerships will be essential to realising the scale of our ambition,” said EPA administrator Michael S. Regan. “I applaud this year’s ENERGY STAR award winners for working with the EPA to deliver a clean energy future that saves American consumers and businesses money and creates jobs.”

As part of its sustainability initiatives, Emerson collaborates with other ENERGY STAR partners to benchmark progress and discuss programme features such as Energy Treasure Hunts and supplier environmental engagement. The company hosts ‘Greening Together Summits’ for its key suppliers to discuss how to collectively partner to drive decarbonisation programmes.

Emerson has also engaged with its employees through its ‘Greening as One’ employee awareness campaign to share actions employees can take to drive progress towards corporate sustainability goals. Since 2021, Emerson has sponsored an annual Environmental Sustainability Award given to facility or employee teams that have gone above and beyond in driving tangible reductions in energy or carbon emissions.

@Emerson_News @EMR_Automation @EmersonExchange @ENERGYSTAR @HHC_Lewis #PAuto #Environment

Affiliation programme yields optical results.

The partnership between Laser Components Detector Group and the University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences(AZ USA) is yielding numerous benefits. At the recent Photonics Days, an event co-organized by the university, Laser ComponentsS researcher Dr. Motasim Alomari presented his research on "Uncooled pyroelectric infrared detectors based on deuterated L-alanine doped triglycine sulfate (DLaTGS)" to a broad audience of optics and photonics professionals.

Furthermore, Laser Components staff collaborates closely with leading researchers and professors at the Optical Science Center – one of the top five academic research facilities in the US. This partnership allows the company to leverage their expertise and further advance the development and manufacturing of its semiconductor-based detectors, ranging from low-cost APDs for commercial applications to high-end components used in military or medical applications.

"We are delighted to have close ties with academic research, as it also helps us to develop, cultivate, and identify new talent," said Raj Chakraborty, General Manager of the Laser ComponentsS Detector Group. "As part of the affiliate program, we not only sponsor R&D projects for students that enhance the scientific knowledge of the photonics industry but also participate in career fairs to foster connections with potential colleagues."

"Our partnership with Laser ComponentsS Detector Group as an Industrial Affiliates member is a testament to the importance of partnership between industry and academia," said Thomas L. Koch, dean, University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences. "We are committed to strengthening our ties with the optics and photonics industry. In addition to ensuring the future talent pipeline, our industry partnerships provide valuable pathways for our research to have real, practical impact."

@LCGermany @lasercomp_uk @UAZOpticalSci #Research #Automation #USA

Visualization enables overall equipment efficiency.

With Talk2M® Visualization from HMS, machine builders get a fast and cost-efficient path to visualize machine data and get dashboards of historical data combined with notifications and reports. This ready-to-go IoT solution facilitates and improves decision-making processes related to machines.

Industrial machines must be serviced and supported throughout their lifespan, but maintenance can become expensive as customers’ support expectations are increasing, and machine downtime becomes unacceptable among machine users. Furthermore, machine builders want their service technicians to manage a larger volume of machines. To stay competitive, they also need to enhance their machines with a state-of-the-art support infrastructure.

The key to leverage the profits of an increasing customer base – without increasing cost – is to be able to have full insight of machine performance and health. By visualizing the valuable data inside the machines, machine builders and their service technicians get the information and insights they need to improve support and make better decisions.

The new Talk2M Visualization functionality enables machine builders to easily visualize machine data to study trends, create dashboards, set up alarms and provide user-controlled access to any aspect of the customers’ machines. The machine data is collected by an Ewon Flexy gateway which in turn is connected to the proven and trusted industrial cloud solution Ewon Talk2M. As of today, more than 400,000 machines are already connected via Talk2M.

“With this new visualization functionality, machine builders are able to have a sophisticated, safe and complete support solution at even if their business is small”, says Sébastien Thinnes, Product & Marketing Director at HMS Networks Business Unit Ewon.

The new visualization functionality is available at no additional costs, for all users of Talk2M Pro.

@hmsnetworks @ewon_hms @mepaxIntPR #PAuto #Wireless

Charge measurement accuracy in EV.

One of the biggest issues in the EV sector is the need to develop vehicles that can travel the furthest possible distances between charges and so design engineers are continually searching for sensors that can offer the superior levels of efficiency and accuracy they require.

The CAB 1500 is the latest member of LEM’s CAB series of automotive grade design sensors that use the properties of fluxgate transducer technology to deliver the high accuracy and low offset required for reliable coulomb counting – measuring the discharging current of Li-ion batteries to estimate their state of charge (SoC). The CAB series is renowned for compliance with the ISO 26262 functional safety standard (to automotive safety integrity level C) as well as easy application through a controller area network (CAN) interface offering 500 kbps.

Backed by LEM’s 50 years’ experience in developing electrical measurement solutions, the CAB 1500 open loop fluxgate sensor – equipped with electronic mechanisms and software that guarantee the levels of reliability required by BMSs – can be busbar or panel mounted and combines best-in-class resolution up to 0.1% with the lowest offset and highest accuracy. As well as offering an extended current range up to ±1500A and compatibility with 800V applications to the IEC 60664-1 standard, the new sensor boasts non-intrusive measurement for full galvanic isolation up to 2.5kV. Other features include low power consumption VS shunt technology and 0.5% total error over temperatures from -40°C to +85°C.

“Accurate battery charge level measurement is a crucial factor in being able to maximise the autonomy range of electric vehicles and design engineers will welcome this addition to LEM’s CAB family which offers the kind of performance levels they require. The CAB 1500 uses fluxgate technology to deliver the best SoC estimations on the market for today’s advanced EV battery management systems and will play a key role in enabling electric vehicles to go further than ever,” said Jérémie Piro, Global Product Manager BMS and Battery Storage 

@LEM_Inc @NapierPR #PAuto #Electrical #Automotive

6G research.

Anritsu Corporation has announced the extension of its 6G research activities to include new innovative research together with Aalborg University in Denmark.

This new 6G research program will develop novel techniques for channel sounding and communication channel sensing in new 6G frequency bands, including the millimeter-wave and sub-terahertz bands. This will be enabled by Vector Network Analyzers from Anritsu, which have specific features to enhance the measurement methods, together with antenna and measurement systems technology from Aalborg University.

As industry and standards organizations discuss and plan the frequencies and waveforms to be used in next-generation mobile communications (such as 6G, IMT-2030), detailed understanding of radio channel characteristics is key piece of information. This research program will enable new techniques for high resolution and wide bandwidth radio channel characterization, which will contribute to system modelling and performance evaluation for 6G technologies. Also, for candidate 6G technologies, the work will support the evaluation of ‘Joint Communications and Sensing’ techniques and waveforms that are currently being researched.

Jonathan Borrill, Head of Global Market Technology at Anritsu stated: “We are very pleased to further extend our 6G research activities and to collaborate with Aalborg University. The university has a proven world-class capability and knowledge for channel sounding and OTA measurements, and we believe that this research program will contribute world-leading results and test capabilities to the industry.”

Wei Fan, professor and leader of “Wireless Propagation and Over the Air testing” research group with Aalborg University stated: “Radio channel modelling is essential for design and development of 6G system and interfaces, which starts with reliable measurements of channels by using high-fidelity channel sounders. We are very happy to work with Anritsu, a world-leading radio frequency test instrument manufacturer, to develop state-of-the-art channel sounders for 6G communication and sensing systems in this project.”

@AnritsuEMEA @Anritsu @aalborg_uni @NapierPR #TandM #Research #Denmark

Industrial LAN.

An industrial dual-radio wireless LAN access point optimized with added router capabilities that securely extends connectivity to the ever-growing number of WiFi devices deployed on high-density plant floors has been launched by Antaira Technologies. Empowered by 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and boasting ultra-reliable stability thanks to the embedded Qualcomm IPQ4029 SoC chipset, the Antaira ARS-7235-5E-AC-T accelerates data transmission speeds up to 867Mbps to facilitate uninterrupted access to a steady, strong wireless signal. Two adjustable MIMO antennas mitigate interference to allow IT professionals to squeeze every inch of reliable range from coverage.

The ARS-7235-5E-AC-T will add value in countless use cases including the enabling of remote monitoring and operation of machinery in harsh industrial environments, the providing of real-time access to WiFi sensors for machine diagnostics and troubleshooting, and supplying wireless connectivity to Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots. Its dual-radio (2.4GHz/5GHz) improves plant productivity by enabling multiple devices to concurrently tap into secure, high-speed WiFi signals and automatically find the least congested channel. Five Gigabit Ethernet ports help customers future-proof their networks as they work to digitally transform their operations with next-generation smart sensors, IP cameras, and industrial IoT devices.

Another box the ARS-7235-5E-AC-T checks is compatibility with ConnectVPN, a cloud-based Virtual Private Network (VPN) developed by Antaira for their wireless router series. ConnectVPN implements encrypted VPN tunnels and WiFi routing to securely configure, monitor, and collect data from connected remote devices.

Featuring a true industrial-grade network design, the ARS-7235-5E-AC-T is engineered to withstand conditions that would severely compromise less robust devices. Its metal housing offers IP30-rated protection, along with a temperature range of -35° to 70°C. Antaira backs the ARS-7235-5E-AC-T with five year warranty.

@AntairaTech @OConnell_PR #PAuto

Avoiding phase failure!

The Bicker module PSZ-1086 is a phase redundancy solution that ensures uninterrupted operation in the event of a phase failure. The failure protection for 1-phase applications takes the form of an all-pole automatic changeover of the supply line. Monitoring is provided by potential-free signal contacts. The module was developed for applications up to 400 W power and is designed for operation in a 230VAC network. The wide operating temperature range of the PSZ-1086 extends from -30° to +85°C.

The phase redundancy module PSZ-1086 ensures the supply of the AC application connected to the output in case of phase failure by automatic phase switching at the input. Each phase failure is detected and reported via the potential-free monitoring contacts. This enables the phase failure to be rectified before it affects the AC application. Downtimes are thus minimized. Due to the potential-free design, the monitoring contacts can be evaluated at any voltage level.

Product features
Phase redundancy module for 230VAC
1x redundant output phase
Phase monitoring with automatic switching
Safe protection against failure
Potential free signal contacts
Input/output voltage 184 to 250VAC
Input/output current: 1.7A (Uin 230 VAC)
Operating temperature range -30°C to +85°C
Long term availability at least 5 years
3 years warranty

Phase monitoring with automatic changeover.
The phase redundancy module PSZ-1086 has two input terminals for the input voltages, one output terminal for the output voltage and connection terminals for the signal contacts of the input voltage monitoring. For proper operation, two different phases, together with the neutral, are connected to both input terminals. The voltage from one of the two input terminals is looped through to the output terminal (see diagram "Bicker-PSZ-1086-sRGB-004-ENG"). Another terminal is used to connect the PE conductor. In case of failure of one phase, the PSZ-1086 module switches over to the second phase within fractions of a second, so that the uninterrupted operation of the supplied application is ensured at any time.

Potential-free monitoring and signal contacts.
The status for the input voltages (phase 1 and phase 2) can be queried and further processed via two potential-free monitoring signal contacts. Both monitoring contacts signal whether a voltage is present at the respective input terminal. Figure "Bicker-PSZ-1086-sRGB-005-ENG" shows an idealized functional diagram with all possible states for the two input phases, the redundant output phase and for the associated monitoring outputs. A detailed description of the sections is also available on the website

@bicker_de @PresseBox #PAuto #Power

Monday 27 March 2023

Meeting air quality demand.

Alphasense has increased its production capacity, automated elements of calibration and upgraded software for its Optical Particle Counter (OPC) products to meet rising industry demand.

Since the launch of the latest iterations of its OPC-N3 and OPC-R2 products in 2021, Alphasense has seen demand grow significantly as air quality moves up the global agenda.

Will Parrett, Sales & Marketing Director EMEA at Alphasense, said: “Alphasense’s range of OPCs has been developed hand in hand with aerosol scientists and engineered to deliver the accuracy expected from industrial-grade monitors in more workable size formats, and at a fraction of the price. Going forward, customers can expect the same high-quality standard of product but delivered much faster.”

Extensive growth in the use of Alphasense OPCs in an increasing number of instruments, plus the success of a number of field trials leading to further adoption has led to Alphasense investing heavily in the supply chain, training and infrastructure required to meet capacity and satisfy future demand.

In parallel, the company has enhanced its bespoke software capabilities to enable a higher volume of concurrent calibrations. As a result of these improvements, customers will soon be experiencing significantly reduced lead times as OPC stock builds.

Alphasense has refreshed its software offering as well, both improving the customer interface and giving users access to a range of features which were previously only available in-house. As the breadth of applications for particulate monitoring grows, this new feature will allow customers to configure devices to suit their specific applications more closely.

Unlike most low-cost particle sensors which measure particle count in a single size category and use that to estimate the volumes of others, Alphasense OPCs measure the full range from PM1 to PM10, giving end users reliable and repeatable data, not simply extrapolated values.

Both the wide-ranging OPC-N3 and the smaller footprint OPC-R2 provide digital outputs of PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 (and optionally PM4.25) along with a histogram of particle count for each of up to 24 user-configured size categories. Alphasense’s proprietary flow correction technology ensures stable readings, even in high-dust environments; this is a key factor in several universities and research organisations independently verifying Alphasense OPCs as providing best-in-class performance.

@AlphaSenseInc @codacomms #PAuto 

DOL damper-fan system replaced by variable frequency drives.

Energy use was reduced from 19,423kWh to 7,789kWh as a result of the VFDs being installed.

Replacing an inefficient damper-based fan system with Invertek variable frequency drives has helped a Brazilian ceramics producer reduce energy use in part of its process by 60%, while increasing the quality of its products at the same time.

Ceramica Tomazia, located in Canelinha in Brazil, produces a range of ceramic brick and tile products used mainly in the construction industry. The production process involves mixing raw materials, before they are pressed, dried, glazed, and then undergo firing in a kiln.

Before the ceramics are glazed and fired, moisture has to be removed from the product in a drying room. An industrial exhaust fan was used to pull the heat source from the kiln into the drying room where it was then spread through seven industrial damper-based fans.

“To control the heat in the room dampers were used on the fans. This meant the fans were operating constantly at full speed unnecessarily, wasting energy and making it difficult to maintain the correct temperature accurately,” said Gabriel Robert of G2R Engenharia e Automacao,  "the company brought in to create a cost-effective solution. The damper-fans are simply inefficient and ineffective. We introduced Invertek Drives's Optidrive E3 and Eco drives to accurately control the fans, varying their speed depending on the products being dried and the temperature required.”

An Optidrive E3 IP66 / NEMA 4X rated VFD was used on the 15HP motor exhaust fan pulling the heat from the firing room. The outdoor rated enclosure was required due to the dust and heat in the industrial environment.

The seven 3HP (total 21HP) fans used in the drying room are now controlled by a single Optidrive Eco drive. The 22kW (30HP), 46A, 380-480V, IP20 rated drive is housed in a control panel, while all motors used on the fans have individual thermal protection.

Energy use was reduced from 19,423kWh to 7,789kWh as a result of the VFDs being installed.

“The introduction of VFD controlled fans has created significant savings in energy costs. Additionally, the quality and standardization of the products has been improved thanks to the improved control of the circulation of heat inside the drying room. The customer is very happy with the outcome,” added Gabriel.

Marcus Silva, Head of Sales in Latin America for Invertek Drives, said the result was another demonstration of how Optidrive VFDs are benefiting businesses and the environment by lowering emissions created through efficient energy use. “This can be just as important in areas such as agricultural buildings where the health and welfare of animals can be improved through such accurate ventilation and temperature control, or in environments where ventilation is important.”\

@Invertek_Drives #PAuto #Ceramics #VSD

Thermal imaging in food.

In the food industry, it’s essential to carefully control the temperature of perishable goods throughout production, transportation, storage, and sales. Repeated warnings about illnesses due to tainted and improperly cooked foods highlight the need for tighter process control. Because this almost always involves a human factor, food processors need tools that automate crucial operations in a way that helps minimize human error while holding down costs.

Thermal imaging cameras are such a tool. Using FLIR thermal imaging cameras, you can make automated non-contact temperature measurements in many food processing applications. Analog video outputs can be viewed on video monitors, and digital temperature data, including MPEG4 video outputs, can be routed to a computer via Ethernet.

How it works.
The main elements doing non-contact temperature measurements in the food processing industry are a thermal imaging camera and associated software. They act as “smart” non-contact sensors to perform 100% inspections, measuring the temperature of equipment, refrigerated products, and cooked foods as they exit the cooking process.

FLIR A310 
Thermal imaging cameras are easy to use, small, and can be positioned almost anywhere as needed. They can also be used to inspect package sealing, and improve efficiency in other food processing operations.

FLIR thermal imaging cameras have firmware and communication interfaces that enable their use in automated process control. Third-party software makes it easy to incorporate these tools into automated machine vision systems without the need for extensive custom-written control code.

The use of thermal imaging cameras in food processing is growing for applications such as:

  • Oven baked goods
  • Microwave cooked meats
  • Microwave drying of parboiled rice and other grains
  • Inspecting ovens for proper temperature
  • Proper filling of frozen meal package compartments
  • Checking integrity of cellophane seals over microwave meals
  • Inspecting box flap glue of overwrap cartons
  • Monitoring refrigerator and freezer compartments
An IR temperature measurement and thermographic image are used to locate undercooked chicken tenders and stop the line so undercooked ones can be removed.

Thermography for quality assistance and product safety.
Thermal imaging is first and foremost a quality assurance (QA) tool. Controlling the quality and safety of cooked meat products is an excellent use of this technology. A permanently mounted thermal imaging camera can record the temperature of, for example, chicken tenders as they exit a continuous conveyor oven.

The objective is to make sure they are done enough but not over-cooked and dried out. Reduced moisture content also represents yield loss on a weight basis. Thermal imaging cameras can also be used for inspection on microwave precooking lines. Besides improving product quality and safety, overall throughput can be increased. An additional benefit is reduced energy costs.

Equipment monitoring.
In addition to cooked food inspections, thermal imaging cameras can monitor conveyor ovens. They can even be part of a feedback loop to help control oven temperature.

Another use of thermal imaging cameras for conveyor ovens is monitoring temperature uniformity across the width of the conveyor oven cooking belt. If a heating element inside an electric oven fails, or you get uneven heating across an air impingement oven, one side of the product stream may be cooler. This can be quickly discovered with thermal imaging cameras.

Quality inspections of this sort are much more difficult with conventional contact type temperature sensors. Thus, thermal imaging cameras can help correct variability and improve quality before a lot of product is scrapped.

Packaging inspections.
Software is available that allows thermal imaging cameras to locate objects and patterns in the images. One application for pattern matching is in the production of frozen meals. Thermal machine vision can use pattern recognition software to check for proper filling of food tray compartments.

A related application is automated 100% inspection of the heat-sealed cellophane cover over finished microwave meals. A thermal imaging camera can see heat radiating from the lip of the container where the cellophane heat-seal is formed. The temperature along the entire perimeter of the package can be checked by using the thermal image with machine vision software. This type of program matches the geometric pattern in the image and its temperatures against the temperatures in a pattern stored in a computer memory. An added function in such a system could be laser marking of a poorly sealed package so it can be removed at the inspection station.

An issue affecting product safety indirectly is the integrity of cartons that overwrap and protect food containers. One of the most cost-effective ways of sealing overwrap cartons is to use heated glue spots on the carton flaps. In the past, the integrity of the spot gluing was determined by periodically doing destructive testing on several samples. This was time-consuming and costly.

Because the glue is heated, a thermal imaging camera can “see” through the cardboard to check the pattern and size of the applied glue spots. The camera can be set up to look at predefined areas of the flaps where glue should be applied, and verify spot sizes and their temperatures.

Process monitoring of production line
The digital data collected is used for a pass/fail decision on each box, so bad boxes can be immediately removed from the production line. The data is automatically logged into the QA system for trend analysis, so a warning can be generated if an excessive number of boxes begin to fail.

Yet another application for thermal imaging cameras is monitoring container filling operations. Although this is seldom a product safety issue, it does affect yield and compliance with regulations. Different areas on the bottle can be defined and used to trigger an alarm and remove bottles that are over-or under-filled. Thermal imaging cameras are a better alternative to visible light cameras when a bottle or jar is made of dark colored glass or plastic.

Automating measurements. Application software currently available for thermal imaging cameras includes a wide variety of functions that support automated food processing applications. This software complements and works in conjunction with firmware built into thermal imaging cameras. The imaging tools and libraries in these packages are hardware- and language-independent, making it easy for food processing engineers to quickly implement thermal monitoring and control systems.

Thermal imaging cameras themselves provide the user with different operating modes that support correct temperature measurements under various conditions. Two functions commonly found in these cameras are a spotmeter and area measurements.

The spotmeter finds the temperature at a particular point. The area function isolates a selected area of an object or scene and usually provides the maximum, minimum, and average temperatures inside that area. The temperature measurement range typically is selectable by the user. As an adjunct to the temperature range selection, most cameras allow a user to set up a color scale or gray scale to optimize the camera image.

In conveyor oven applications, the area function is typically used because pieces of cooked product are often randomly located on the conveyor. The camera can be programmed to find and measure the minimum and maximum temperatures within the defined area. If one of those setpoint temperatures were to fall outside the user-defined limits, an application program running on a PC or PLC would instantly trigger an alarm, alerting the operator to check the thermal image on a video monitor or PC to find and remove the bad product, and/or adjust the cooking temperature.

In the case of local monitoring, an IR camera’s digital I/O can be used to directly trigger an alarm device without additional software. However, food processing often benefits from higher level analytics that are available in third-party software that runs on a PC.

These out-of-the-box solutions do not require the writing of application source code. By adhering to commonly used machine vision interface standards such as GigE Vision® and GenICam,™ a wide range of functionality is supported by this software.

A simplified block diagram of conveyor monitoring is shown. One thermal imaging camera is adequate for many applications, or a thermal imaging camera may be combined with a visible light camera to record other target object attributes, such as color.

@flir @mepaxIntPR  #PAuto #Hygene

Contaminated land and the vital role of portable PIDs.

Portable photoionization detectors (PIDs) have become an important tool in the management of many contaminated land remediation projects, and the following article will explain the reasons behind their popularity, despite the challenges presented by field work. Remediation sites frequently present soil samples with high levels of humidity, which interferes with the readings from many PIDs, so this article, from ION Science, explains how PID instruments have completely eliminated this issue.

Land is defined as contaminated when it is polluted by substances that cause, or may cause, significant harm to people, property, protected species, surface waters or groundwater. Most pollution is caused by existing or historical human activities such as industrial processes and mining, poor waste management, unsustainable farming practices, accidents, spills, leaks and the effects of armed conflicts. Pollution also knows no borders, with contaminants spreading atmospherically and through terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Typical contaminants include heavy metals, asbestos, radioactive substances, oils, fuels, tars, chemicals such as solvents, and a wide range of gases. Many thousands of different contaminants therefore exist, and sophisticated laboratory analytical techniques can be used to quantify sample concentrations. However, laboratory testing is costly and incurs a significant delay, so it is common practice to deploy field-use screening devices to speed up the process of contamination assessment, and to reduce the number and cost of samples requiring laboratory analysis. It is usually necessary for field testing to be supported by confirmatory sampling and laboratory analysis.

Field-use screening tools help to identify contaminated areas quickly and cost-effectively. For example, portable XRF analysers enable rapid measurement of several metals, and PID instruments can detect hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The ION Science Tiger XT, for example, has an internal gas table for over 700 gases, with response factors for each.

Hydrocarbon contamination.
Hydrocarbon contamination is frequently encountered in site investigations at brownfield sites, where elevated concentrations of oil and petroleum hydrocarbons in soil and groundwater systems present a risk to human health and the environment. Hydrocarbon contamination is therefore one of the most common forms of pollution, which explains why portable photoionization detectors (PIDs) are the most commonly employed tool in the screening and characterisation of potentially contaminated sites.

Further Reading.
Land contamination – technical guidance. (GB Gov)
SEPA Land remediation and waste management guidelines. (GB Gov)
UNEP Global Assessment of Soil Pollution.(UN)
 Overview of Field-Based Analytical Techniques, Devices and Kits to Determine Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Soil’ (CONCAWE)
Contaminated Land: Applications in Real Environments. (CL:AIRE  library) 
Petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater.(CL:AIRE ) 
Petroleum Hydrocarbon Contamination in Terrestrial Ecosystems - Fate and Microbial Responses. (Truskewycz et al. (2019) National Library of Medicine) 

The more significant groups of hydrocarbons that are either indicative of oil-based pollution or represent a significant human health or environmental hazard are BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

Portable PIDs can be used to test the air surrounding a potentially contaminated sample, or the sample of water or soil may be contained within a tube, jar or sample bag so that the VOCs are allowed to volatilise and accumulate. The PID can then be used to test the headspace inside the sample container. This is a useful test for water samples that may have been contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks for example. VOCs such as methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) are highly soluble in water, and are therefore extremely mobile and capable of contaminating large volumes of water such as aquifers. Odour may be detected from water contaminated by hydrocarbons, but subjective assessments such as these should be verified by PID measurements. Early identification is therefore vital because remediation of underground water resources can be problematic and costly.

Why use portable PIDs?
Portable PIDs are commonly deployed at every stage of a contaminated land project. This includes preliminary risk assessments involving site visits to define project objectives, and to identify sources, pathways, receptors and pollutant linkages. Portable PIDs are also used during subsequent site investigations to undertake risk assessments using site specific data, and to refine the conceptual model.

Soil Sampling
Once onsite work is underway, the operators of machinery, such as diggers and remediation equipment, need to know whether a sample is contaminated or not. A precise analytical measurement is frequently not required for ongoing operational purposes. All that is necessary is a fast indication of whether significant levels of VOCs are present, so that the operator can make an informed decision, such as where to excavate. Similarly, a fast indication of contamination is necessary when onsite remediation is undertaken – for samples both before and after treatment.

It is important to emphasise that portable PIDs do not replace laboratory analysis; they complement such work and help to mitigate the cost, delays and labour involved with the analysis of collected samples. It is also important to note that the collection and transport of samples for VOC analysis in a laboratory involves stringent procedures to ensure that VOC levels do not dissipate before analysis. Nevertheless, analysis in a suitably accredited laboratory is necessary for a prescribed number of samples to demonstrate that a site is complying with its licence.

Portable PIDs are also employed to test the headspace of soil probes that are sometimes deployed for site characterisation and to check the ongoing effectiveness of remediation.

A variety of alternative methods, test kits and instruments exist for the onsite measurement of VOCs, but most of these are either costly, cumbersome, not portable, time-consuming, or too specific in their target species. Flame ionization detectors (FIDs) are also responsive to a wide variety of VOCs, including alkanes, but this includes methane (PIDs do not respond to methane) which is often present in soil for reasons unrelated to contamination. Also, FIDs require an ignition source such as hydrogen, which makes them less well suited to field work.

The main advantages of portable PIDs are:

  • Fast response
  • Sensitive to hundreds of VOCs including BTEX and PAHs
  • Highly sensitive. With a broad range
  • Relatively low cost
  • Simple to use by untrained staff
  • Battery powered and portable
  • Different lamps available to target specific groups of compounds

Underlining the importance of PIDs in the measurement of hydrocarbons, CONCAWE, an environmental research group comprising many of the world’s leading oil companies, published a report in 2021 entitled ‘Overview of Field-Based Analytical Techniques, Devices and Kits to Determine Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Soil’. The report concluded: “It is important to acknowledge that there is currently not a single field analytical technology that allows to determine and quantify the entire range of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil and therefore a combination of analytical technologies (i.e., combining PID with vis-NIR or GC-MS with vis-NIR) has the potential to offer a more robust approach in quantifying petroleum hydrocarbons in soil by providing greater prediction accuracy.”

PIDs are also employed during emergency response situations that arise when land contamination occurs from a leak or spill of hydrocarbons. For example, the USEPA has an established set of emergency response procedures to investigate a site, evaluate the threat, and determine the best course of action. For example, the choice of PPE is informed by the identification of hazards or suspected hazards, the potential exposure pathways, and the performance of equipment providing a barrier to these hazards. An important goal of monitoring during initial site entry is to establish safety zones at the site. Periodic monitoring is then conducted to ensure that any new hazards are identified promptly, and that appropriate controls are implemented to protect the responders and nearby communities.

Why use ION Science PIDs?
Portable PID instruments such as the ION Science Tiger XT have been designed specifically for challenging field conditions. These rugged instruments benefit from the advanced features of the MiniPID 2 sensors, such as detection limits down to 1 ppb, and measurement ranges up to 20,000 ppm. Crucially however, the Tiger XT range is unaffected by the problems that plague other PID instruments. This is because a unique design eliminates any potential effects of varying humidity and contamination, and a built-in ASIC chip constantly checks PID performance to deliver a fail-safe instrument, which is essential in potentially hazardous applications.

In addition to the health risks posed by VOCs, their accumulation in contaminated land can represent an explosion risk, so the ION Science portable PIDS benefit from global Intrinsic Safety (IS) certification for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

The Tiger XT is supplied as standard with a 10.6 eV lamp for the measurement of a wide range of VOCs. However, benzene is a particularly toxic VOC, and some site conditions set specific targets for this compound. Importantly, the new Tiger XT Select (XTS) utilises the ION Science 10.0 eV lamp to detect Total Aromatic Compounds (TACs) such as benzene, toluene and xylene, and is supplied with a pack of pre-filter tubes for the specific, selective detection of benzene. This speciation capability for benzene is a major advantage, given the complexity and cost of alternative benzene-specific measurement techniques.

Eliminating humidity interference.
For decades, the users of portable PID instruments have endured unreliable measurements from their instruments due to the high levels of humidity that often exist on-site and in the headspace of soil samples. This has been the source of enormous frustration, but the wide-ranging response and the sensitivity of PIDs has made them an important tool in site investigation and sample screening work.

A number of ‘work around solutions’ have been developed involving humidity suppression or compensation, but all of these have significant limitations:

  • Humidity sensor – these typically have a slower response than the PID sensor itself which causes a drifting compensation
  • Desiccant tube – these both slow and reduce the PID response, plus they need replacing from time to time which adds cost
  • Humidify the calibration gas – this only works at one level of humidity and is no longer accurate when the humidity changes

Importantly, none of these ‘solutions’ solves false positive readings at high humidity levels. ION Science has therefore developed a patent protected solution to high humidity, involving the addition of a third fence electrode within the PID sensor. This overcomes the possibility of incorrect high readings by acting as a conductive break, and thereby preventing excessive current flow caused by the presence of high, and even condensing, levels of humidity.

In the many locations with hydrocarbon contamination, portable PIDs offer environmental consultants, engineering contractors, regulators and remediation companies the opportunity to quickly assess large numbers of samples and locations. These measurements are not used to demonstrate compliance with licence conditions, but they are essential for operational purposes; enabling rapid, low-cost risk assessments and enabling effective, informed, decision making during the remediation process. 

"In the Tiger XT, users have a device that is truly fit for purpose; rugged, portable and sensitive to an enormous range of VOCs, but also resistant to the contamination and humidity issues that affect other manufacturers."

@ionscience @_Enviro_News #Food #Safety