Monitoring nuclear waste legacy ponds!

22/04/2014

Following a rigorous assessment period, EXO water quality monitoring sondes from Xylem Analytics are being deployed in what is arguably one of the most hostile environments imaginable – nuclear waste legacy storage ponds at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in Cumbriain the North West of England.

Background
One of the major challenges facing Sellafield Ltd is the safe decommissioning of the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), a nuclear fuel storage facility that was originally built in the 1950s and 1960s as part of Britain’s expanding nuclear programme to receive and store, cool irradiated Magnox fuel prior to reprocessing.

In the 1970s a lengthy shutdown at the Magnox Reprocessing Plant, combined with increased throughput of fuel due to electricity shortages, spent fuel to be stored in the pond for longer than the designed period which led to increased fuel corrosion and radiation levels.

Over the years the pond has accumulated significant quantities of waste materials, sludges from corrosion of fuel cladding, skips of fuel, and fuel fragments and other debris which has blown into the pond. Standing above ground, this 5m deep open pond holding some 14,000 cubic metres of contaminated water (approximately the size of two Olympic swimming pools) is considered a decommissioning priority. To assist with future retrievals, a detailed knowledge of the facility’s inventory through visual inspection of the pond is needed.

Despite high levels of radioactivity, this open pond appears to intermittently bloom with a range of microorganisms that cloud the water, reducing visibility and hampering inspection and retrieval operations.

Sellafield Ltd is the company responsible for safely delivering decommissioning, reprocessing and nuclear waste management activities on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and a project team led by Xavier Poteau has specific responsibility for transferring monitoring technologies to the FGMSP pond.

FGMSP Pond (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

Water passing through the pond reaches the Sellafield Ion Exchange Effluent Plant (SIXEP) which removes radioactivity from liquid feeds from a number of plants across the Sellafield site. The plant settles out and filters solids using a carbonation process to neutralise the alkaline pond water and then employs ion exchange to remove radionuclides.

Why monitor?
Water samples are routinely collected from the pond for laboratory analysis, and analytical data is reported to the Environment Agency and the NDA. In addition to this regulatory requirement, water quality data is also required to inform efficient operation of SIXEP and to ensure that legacy fuel is stored in optimal conditions. For example, the water is caustic dosed to maintain a pH of around 11.5 which reduces the speed of nuclear fuel degradation.

Water monitoring challenges

Preparing to test the water!

Preparing to test the water! (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

As a result of physical restrictions, it has only been possible to take water samples from specific locations around the edge of the pond and, being radioactive, routine samples have to be limited to about 100ml to be within laboratories guidelines. Sampling is also an arduous, time-consuming process; two people have to be involved and each sampler has to wear a pvc suit and facemask, two pairs of pvc waterproof gloves and a pair of Kevlar gloves to ensure that the gloves are not accidentally punctured. The samplers are also only allowed to be close to the pond for a limited time.

Instrumentation might appear to be the obvious solution, but again, there are several challenges, not least of which is that gamma spectrum analysis has to be conducted on a sample in a lab. In addition, electrical instruments often fail in a radioactive environment, so the general assumption is that they will do so, unless proven otherwise. Continuous monitoring probes, similar to those employed by the water industry, are not feasible because of the wiring that would be required. However, portable instruments offer the potential to reduce the volume and frequency of water sampling.

Trials with EXO sondes
The EXO2 sondes are multiparameter 6-port water quality monitors that have been developed for remote, long-term monitoring applications. Employed globally by regulatory authorities, researchers, industrial companies and those responsible for the protection of water resources, the EXO sondes are the result of many years’ of development and feedback from thousands of users from all over the world. As a result, these instruments are lightweight and rugged, with internal batteries and datalogging capability for long-term monitoring applications. The EXO sondes operate on extremely low power and incorporate a range of features that minimise maintenance requirements and avoid biofouling. For example: wet-mateable connectors resist corrosion; components are isolated to prevent short-circuits; welded housings and double o-rings prevent leaks, and high-impact plastic and titanium resists impact damage.

The ‘smart’ EXO sensors are easily interchangeable and users are able to select the sensors that best meet their needs. The FGMSP project team, for example, uses sensors for pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, fDOM (Fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter – a surrogate for Coloured DOM), Blue-green Algae and Chlorophyll.

Initially, the FGMSP project team trialled an extended deployment version of the YSI 6600 multiparameter water quality monitoring sonde – a predecessor of the EXO. “This enabled us to assess the quality of the YSI sensors and demonstrate that they were able to operate well in a radioactive environment,” comments Technical Specialist Marcus Coupe, adding: “The launch of the EXO was of great interest to us because, with Bluetooth communications and smart sensors that retain their calibration data, the EXO offered an opportunity to dramatically reduce time spent at the pond.

“The snap-on probes are calibrated in the laboratory and can then be quickly and simply swapped with those that have been deployed on an EXO sonde. This means that the main part of the sonde can be left onsite while the sensors are quickly swapped, and the Bluetooth comms enable us to collect 18,600 sets of data in less than 20 minutes.”

Commenting further on the success of the EXO trials, Xavier Poteau says: “It has been common experience in the nuclear industry to have to apply significant adaptations to electrical equipment, so that it is able to function correctly in a radioactive environment, and this can incur a heavy cost and time penalty. However, the EXO sondes have performed very well ‘off the shelf’ which is a sign of good design.”

ROV with EXO probe

ROV with EXO probe (Image supplied courtesy of Sellafield Ltd)

As part of their work with the EXO sondes, the FGMSP project team has deployed an EXO sonde with a submersible remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This enabled the team to monitor water quality at previously unachievable locations. “Any loss of visibility in the pond can potentially cause a significant risk to operations within the legacy ponds, as well as potentially slowing down future retrievals, so the ability to deploy an EXO with a ROV offers a valuable insight into understanding the challenge, and moves us from single point sampling to a more 3D-like data stream,” adds Marcus Coupe.

Looking forward
Neill Cornwell from Xylem Analytics has been involved with the trials at Sellafield from the start. He says: “A lot of hard work has gone into the process of demonstrating EXO’s suitability for deployment in the nuclear sector; not only has the equipment had to perform well in challenging conditions, but we have also had to demonstrate a high level of technical and service support.

“Naturally, we are very pleased that the sondes have performed so well, and further instruments are now being deployed in other applications at the Sellafield site. For example, a slimmer version of the EXO, the EXO1, is being used to monitor the effluent distribution tanks because the only access is via narrow pipes and the EXO1 is ideal because its outer diameter is just 1.85 inches.”

The data from the FGMSP sondes compare favourably with the results of laboratory analysis, so Xavier Poteau believes “a high level of confidence is being established in the EXO data and this means that we will be able to reduce the amount of sampling that we undertake, which will save a great deal of time, hassle and money.

“I strongly believe that our experience could be beneficial to the wider audience as well as the nuclear industry.”

EXO2_titanium_bulkhead

EXO2 Titanium Bulkhead


So much geek at NIWeek! A virtual attendee reports virtually!

12/08/2013

Engineers are the future. Keep inspiring another generation!

David Bocanegra - “EV3 software is awsome…”

David Bocanegra – “EV3 software is awsome…”

We have never been able to manage to get to NI Week, which is held annually in Austin Texas, more than 4000 miles away from Ireland as the crow flies. However we have been able to attend vicariously, via twitter, the live-streaming of keynotes and the blogs and releases issued during and immediately afterwards.

It has sometimes been said that in one way it is better to watch the twitter feeds than actually being there! It can certainly be as demanding on time and looking at a computer screen can be pretty exhausting. Indeed with the advance of hand-held units, iPads and phones, which can be connected all the time, the quantity, if not always the quality, of tweets was fairly intense. Of course its great disadvantage is the inability to provide the experience of face to face social intercourse, (nor the sometimes unpleasant aftermath of too-late nights!)

We have gathered the links to articles, blogs and pr material as we became aware of them and put them in a box on our Home Page to assist the busy engineer, nerd or geek who wanted a quick place to see these without having to trawl through what seemed like thousands of tweets. We have included that box below this article.

tweetingliveTweet overload!
The enthusiasm of these National Instruments events is legendary and it continually seeped through these social media sharings. Things like “My biggest takeaway from every #niweek keynote: science and engineering are freakin cool!” (@TheRealAdamKemp ) or “Dr T kicked off #NIWeek 2013 by talking about Graphical System Design, Industry 4.0 and Cyber-Physical systems (oh, and bagpipe tuners!)” (@mjg73 ) and “My twitter news feed is blown up because of #niweek :) totally not complaining! LOVE the new #roboRIO (so jealous I don’t get to use it)” (@alexkay4235 ). Another reported “Nearly 4,000 attendees packed in for the #NIWeek conference with over 1,000 streaming online!..” And more wonder & delight, “3rd year here, and the #NIWeek keynote intro still raises the hair on my neck!” (@Backerthebiker) or “Dang! Opening video presentation at #NIWeek 2013 was AWESOME! Kicking off this year’s conference with a big boom.” (@lindseyjo23); “Ready for another day of great madness! Love #NIweek” (@Fabiola31416).

Dr James Truchard

Dr James Truchard

In think you get the idea!

The technology
Co-Founder Dr James Truchard kicked of in his inimitable style. The enthusiasm he generates is perhaps comparable to that generated by the founder of Apple though his style is completely different and perhaps understated though very real. He spoke about platforms and the future of virtual instrumentation. “From cyber physical systems to big Analog data solutions, graphical system design provides a platform based approach for measurement and control!”

Jeff Kodosky

Jeff Kodosky

The Applications
The second day commenced with a presentation by the other side of the foundation duo, Jeff Kodosky – the Father of Labview. Fostering discovery – using Labview in the most difficult applications. These include the iconic CERN project in Europe, sensitive healing technologies for cancer treatment and facilitating food production in otherwise impossible areas.

Inspiring and Preparing the Next Generation of Innovators
“High school kids created these robots!”
Day three Ray Almgren discussed Inspiring and Preparing the Next Generation of Innovators, always a strong suite with National Instruments. However we have no intention in treating on these “keynote” sessions. No! National Instruments with their usual efficiency, have provide professional videos of NIWeek 2013 Keynote Presentations and they are well worth looking at. They have divided each days keynotes into four sections which means that one can navigate to the topics/technologies of interest.

There are a few presentations which impressed your correspondent.

The young are always impressed with robots. We were introduced to David Bocanegra, a youthful programmer (10 years old), using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 system. He demonstrated his skill and the versitality of the EV3 software. When asked he enthusiastically responded “EV3 software is awsome…” (See pic at top of page!)

We saw some high-school students using the NI roboRIO on a frisbie fairing robot. They started the system and there was a pregnant pause interrupted by one of them saying “Uh-oh!” One of the Nat Instrument guys (Ray Algrem) came across to see what was wrong but obviously the students had it under control as they explained what the robot was doing while nothing could be seen.

“What’s the probability of success?” he asked dubiously.

“High!” was the confident (and indignant) response of the students! And they were right!

They then used the doubting presenter for target practice as they used him in a William Tell-like exercise of shooting a bottle of his head with a frisbee! Wonderful stuff!

Dr Red Whittiker & Lunar Lander

Dr Red Whittiker & Lunar Lander

Two other presentations on the third day were both to do with space. A memorable presentation from NASA’s Associate Administrator of Education, Leland Melvin. He shared his time on the International Space Station and his experience with robotics in space. Finally a presentation from Dr Red Whittaker, Carnegie Mellon University, on a planned robotic expedition to the moon to explore mineral resources there. The extraordinary machine that will be landing and doing the work was shown. Watch out for news of the pin-point landing and exploration in October 2015. Fascinating stuff.

Finally these tweets “I know I say it every year, but this was THE BEST #NIWEEK EVA!” (@crelfpro ) and “Had a great time @NIWeek! Already excited for next year.” (‏@TandelSystems).

Invitation!
“Thanks for attending #NIWeek 2013. We had a blast & hope you did too. Stay social & tell us what you liked best!” (@NIglobal)

Oh yes! Next year they do it (or something like it) all over again. Mark your diary – NI Week 2014 - 5th to 7th August 2014 in Austin Texas USA. 

NIWeek 2013

NI Week on twitter #NIweek!

7 Steps to to Making the Most of NI Week

Social Media Guide at NI Week (Slideshow - #NIWeek tweets are more powerful with photos.)

Live Keynotes (National Instruments’ videos in digestible chunks!)

Check out LabViewNI.com for LABVIEW NEWS INFORMATION

Blogs and Reports

(We’ll probably have missed a few so check out the tweets etc!)

NIwk13

Bloomy Controls Awarded Most Outstanding Technical Resources (PR Web, 22/8/2013)

cDAQ, cRIO, myRIO, PXImc und natürlich LabVIEW ((Hans Jaschinski, all-electronics.de 20/8/2013)

Cold Fusion Demo in Texas – More Pictures (DRbobblog, 16/8/2013)

NI Week 2013: The Enable highlight reel! (Ben Zimmer, Enable Education, 14/8/2013)

NIWeek 2014 dates announced (Radio Electronics 12/8/2013)

Instrument Maker Puts Education Center Stage (Douglas McCormack, IEEE Spectrum, 12/8/2013)

Reach of software-designed instrumentation for electronic test extended (Read-out Signpost, 12/8/2013)

National Instruments’ CEO Hosts Investor Conference (Transcript) (Seeking Alpha, 10/8/2013)

Record-breaking Attendance, Groundbreaking Products (NICommunity News, 9/8/2012)

National Instruments adds to their platforms (Larry Desjardin, EDN Network, 9/8/2013)

National Instruments promotes lifelong science, engineering education (Mary Gannon, Connector Tips, 9/8/2013)

Engineering Innovation at National Instruments’ NIWeek (Laura Lorek, Silicon Hills News, 9/8/2013)

Technologies & tutorials highlight week (Vision Systems Design, 9/8/2013)

Take care of the village people (New Electronics, 9/8/2013)

Students can design sophisticated systems in one semester (Read-out, 9/8/2013)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is Here (Rob Spiegel,Design News, 8/8/2013)

NIWeek’ displays latest in science, tech (Jess Mitchell , Austin YNN, 8/8/2013)

Electric Utility Distributes Control to Move Grid Into 21st Century (Aaron Hand, Automation World, 8/8/2013)

The Outsider’s Guide to NIWeek 2013 (Matt Migliore, Flow Control, 8/8/2013)

Places to be this week (Martin Rowe, EE Times, 8/8/2013)

Ditch the Lab: Take measurements in rugged environments (Read-out, 8/8/2013)

Programming Lego Mindstorms using RTI DDS Toolkit for LabVIEW (Merwin Shanmugasundaram, RTI, 8/8/2013)

Custom hardware is dead (New Electronics, 8/8/2013)

Fun at NIWeek (Mary Gannon, MotionControl Tips, 8/8/2013)

National Instruments redesigns NI CompactRIO from the inside out (Read-out, 8/8/2013)

NI Week hat im texanischen Austin begonnen (Hendrik Härter, Elektronik Prazis, 7/8/2013)

Platforms in a programmable world (New Electronics, 7/8/2013)

Day 2 of NI Week is “applications day!” (Paul Heney, Mobile Hydraulic Tips, 7/8/2013)

Engineers solve $10-billion spoiled milk issue (Davif Yeomans, KXAN, 7/8/2013)

NI Unveils New Products and Glimpses of Future for Automation, Test and Measurement (Gary Mintchell, Manufacturing Connection, 7/8/2013)

NI cDAQ-9188XT Introduced for Rugged Environments at #NIWeek (Radio Electronics, 7/8/2013)

Wineman Technology Simplifies Complex Control for Test Cell Applications with INERTIA™ 2012 (PR Newswire, 6/8/2013)

Cyberphysical Systems Will Boost Manufacturing Performance (Gary Mintchell, Manufacturing Connection, 6/8/2013)

NI Week’s cool apps on display (J LOve, EDN Network, 6/8/2013)

Jet vehicle at NI Week turns heads (David Yeomans, KXAN, 6/8/2013)

Custom Hardware Design Is Dead (Janine Love, EETimes, 6/8/2013)

NI Week 2013 and the big data revolution (Paul Heney, Mobile Hydraulic Tips, 6/8/2013)

Industrial Controllers Evolve with FPGAs (David Greenfield, Automation World, 6/8/2013)

LabVIEW 2013 helps users focus on innovation Instead of infrastructure (Read-out Signpost, 6/8/2013)

Start of the never ending tour (New Electronics, 6/8/2013)

Items of NI News on Modular Connections (Starts 5th August)

NI Week: Hotter than Austin in August (Microwave Journal 5/8/2013)

Wineman Technology Selected to Showcase INERTIA™ Software Platform at NIWeek 2013 (5/8/2013)

Pictures & Videos

 Scenes from NI Week 2013 (Machine Design, Photo Gallery, 12/8/2013)

• Design World: Day 1 : Day 2

• Niweek expo hall in 6 seconds (VI Shots)

• A less frenetic glimps of the NIWeek Editor experience! (1.07 min video!)

So much geek at #NIWeek!

Although Read-out was unable to sail over to Austin however we did make it to last years NI Day event in London (GB). Here is what we said about it! No boxes with magic pixies at Westminster!

NPL trials identify improved bioaerosol monitoring technology

01/07/2013
Trials conducted by the British National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have identified improved methodologies for sampling and measuring bioaerosols at composting facilities. Commissioned by Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the first project began in 2008 and the results of a larger series of trials will be published later this summer.

Background
As Britain seeks to reduce the quantity of waste going to landfill, there has been a growth in demand for composting, particularly to accommodate ‘green bin’ waste. In addition there has been an increase in the variety of wastes that are being composted, so it is important to be able to understand the emissions from these processes in order to minimise any impact on the environment and human health.

Trials have identified improved methodologies for sampling and measuring bioaerosols at composting facilities. However, bioaerosols are sampled in a wide variety of industries where airborne biological particles (such as bacteria, pollen, endotoxins, viruses and fungal spores) represent a potential hazard.

Trials have identified improved methodologies for sampling and measuring bioaerosols at composting facilities. However, bioaerosols are sampled in a wide variety of industries where airborne biological particles (such as bacteria, pollen, endotoxins, viruses and fungal spores) represent a potential hazard.

Micro-organisms are necessary for the composting process, so they will always be present in large quantities within the bulk material. Any handling process, such as moving, sorting or turning, is likely to create airborne dust that will contain micro-organisms, and studies have shown that exposure to the pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus can trigger asthma, bronchitis and allergic responses, so workers and residents near composting sites are potentially at risk.

Traditional bioaerosol sampling techniques rely on the impaction of particles on a solid agar medium. However, these methods can be time-consuming and are limited by low flow rates and unreliable impaction. They are also restricted to particles that can be cultivated. In contrast, the wet walled cyclonic technology employed by the Coriolis instruments, rapidly collects biological particles in liquid at a high flow rate with validated efficiency, and the liquid containing the particles is compatible with a number of rapid microbiological analysis methods, including qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction), which enables the quantification and qualification of most targets.

Studies at NPL
The objective of the initial work was to improve the accuracy and speed of traditional measurement techniques, and one of the conclusions of the project was that the wet walled cyclonic technology employed by the Coriolis, gave the best performance for quantifying biological species such as fungi and bacteria, when used in conjunction with qPCR. Some of the experimental work was carried out at the Health Protection Agency (HPA)   – now Public Health England - to quantify the efficiency of sampling and analysis methods for the measurement of airborne Aspergillus fumigatus spores. This work demonstrated good correlation between Coriolis/qPCR and the HPA’s ‘standard’ method for these measurements.

As a result of the initial work, NPL now offers an Aspergillus fumigatus bioaerosol monitoring service to quantify airborne spore levels at composting sites using a rapid qPCR technique. The key advantages of this monitoring service over traditional microbiological methods are:

  1. Short sampling times
  2. Rapid analysis
  3. High sensitivity and broad detection range
  4. Species specific
  5. Detects total spore count (viable and non-viable), which overcomes any issue of emission underestimation as a result of damage to the spores during collection
  6. Aids differentiation between background spore levels and site specific emission

A full report in the early work has now been published on the Defra website, and further studies have been commissioned. The most recent studies have involved bioaerosol sampling with the Coriolis sampler at four different sites, every quarter during 2012. NPL’s David Butterfield says “The objective of the latest trial was to assess the sampling and monitoring technologies in greater detail, under differing weather conditions and with different sources.”

At the same time, a working group at CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, is working on a new bioaerosol monitoring standard that is likely to accommodate the latest technology and will necessitate demonstration of equivalence.

Looking forward, Jim Mills from Air Monitors, the company which launched the Coriolis in the Britain, says “It will take some time before this new technology becomes standard practice, but in the meantime, with the benefit of the work that has been conducted by NPL and others, there is no reason why Coriolis should not be utilised widely to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of bioaerosol sampling at composting sites, and in many other applications such as hospitals, legionella investigations, cooling towers, animal housing and pharmaceutical manufacture.”


Remote monitors track river restoration success

10/05/2013
Remote monitoring of restoration work on beautiful English river using advanced sensing and telemetry technology.

Possibly one of the most unique areas of England is East Anglia; that part of the country north of London and south of the inlet known as the Wash. It encompasses the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, and is generally flat, stretching to the famous Broads, beloved of inland sailors and wildlife lovers. Water is an ever-present feature and this needs to be protected for environmental and biodiversity reasons.

The Norfolk Rivers Trust has installed a remote river monitoring station that has been tracking water quality and flow before and after river restoration work at an area of ecological importance on the River Nar (WIKI link!).

Picturesque view of the River Nar below Castle Acre! (Pic: Norfolk Rivers Trust)

Picturesque view of the River Nar below Castle Acre! (Pic: Norfolk Rivers Trust)

Rising in chalk hills to the east of the village of Tittleshall, the river flows south for 2.5 km until it reaches Mileham, then predominately west for 39.5 km through the villages of Litcham, Castle Acre, West Acre and Narborough until it reaches the tidal Ouse at King’s Lynn. The river rises on chalk and in its course to Narborough flows over chalk formations. In its lower course the underlying geology is more complex and consists of a progression from Narborough downstream through a series of clays and greensands, making it one of only a few remaining fenland chalk streams. In line with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, the project is designed to ensure that the Nar maintains good ecological status by 2015 and in doing so it aims to improve the habitat for wildlife and promote biodiversity. The river monitoring station incorporates an Adcon GPRS telemetry unit from OTT Hydrometry, which automatically collects data and feeds a website, providing easy access for the project team.

The Problem
Agricultural runoff is a particular problem in the Anglian region because of the light sandy soils which are easily eroded during times of heavy rainfall. Fertilisers can add to the problem because they can be washed from the field and end up in water courses. As a result, many Norfolk Rivers contain high levels of nitrate and phosphate. Excessive levels of these nutrients can lead to eutrophication, symptoms of this can include vigorous growth of blanket weed; this change in water quality lowers dissolved oxygen levels in the streams and rivers, and harms wildlife.

In the past, the Nar channel has been made straighter, wider and deeper; initially to improve navigation, and later to improve drainage. However, this has had a detrimental effect on wildlife.

The River Nar also suffers from sediment deposition arising from point sources such as land drains, and from diffuse sources such as run-off resulting from cultivation in wet periods. This has affected species that rely on gravel beds for any stage in their lifecycle. For example, brown trout need sediment free gravel to lay their eggs.

The River Nar Project
Assisted by funds from WWF-UK, the Coca-Cola Partnership and the Catchment Restoration Fund, the Norfolk Rivers Trust has established a £609k  (€720k) river and flood plain restoration project to reduce pollution in the River Nar and improve the habitat for wildlife.

The project began in June 2012 and includes work to change the course of the river from a straight incised channel to a meandering route; reconnecting the river to the floodplain, which would create new habitats. This channel restoration project was completed in October 2012. The project also includes the creation of reed beds and other in-ditch options to trap sediment before it enters the River Nar. Currently four reed beds have been installed in different areas in the River Nar catchment which also includes the dredging of an existing pond.

Monitoring
Prior to the commencement of the project, the Norfolk Rivers Trust measured water quality by collecting weekly samples and transferring them to their laboratory for analysis. This was a time-consuming and expensive activity and only produced spot data for the moment that a sample was taken. Consequently, events that took place at night or between the sampling interval were not detected, so there were clear advantages to be obtained from continuous monitoring.

In order to establish a continuous monitoring station for water quality and flow, OTT Hydrometry provided a Hydrolab Minisonde water quality monitor and an Adcon A755 Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU). In combination with a bed mounted Doppler flow meter (provided by the Environment Agency), the station is able to provide a continuous record of the river’s condition.

narOTTThe Hydrolab Minisonde 5 takes measurements for turbidity, flow, conductivity, temperature and luminescent dissolved oxygen (LDO) every 15 minutes. The collected flow and water chemistry data is then stored and transmitted every hour via the RTU to an online server hosted by OTT Hydrometry. This allows information to be downloaded and analysed in the Trust’s office without the need for regular site visits. Data can be accessed at anytime from anywhere using the Adcon app.

Operating on extremely low power, and designed specifically for the collection and transmission of remote monitoring data, ADCON RTUs are able to utilise a variety of communication methods depending on site conditions. For example, radio represents a low-cost alternative in areas with poor GSM coverage and where line of sight is possible, with repeaters if necessary.

The monitoring site on the Nar has some GSM coverage, but the signal is poor, so an ADCON A755 RTU was chosen to communicate via GPRS. The A755 RTU has been developed specifically for areas with low signal, because it stores all monitoring data when signal strength is too low for transmission, and then sends the information when signal coverage improves, sending the backed up data first.

The monitoring equipment was installed at the end of July 2012 and restoration work began on 8th October 2012. Emphasising the importance of monitoring before and after the restoration work, project officer Helen Mandley says: “To be able to judge the success of the project it is essential that we are able to compare water quality data from the old river channel to the new river channel, because we need to improve water quality in order to improve the biodiversity of the river.”

Results
In addition to water quality and flow monitoring, ecological assessments have been undertaken for water voles and other small mammals, macrophytes, aquatic invertebrates, vegetation and fish. However, before a reliable assessment of the project’s success can be undertaken, it will be necessary to evaluate data over an extended period so that seasonal effects can be taken into consideration.

Pre- and post-restoration data on ecology, water quality and flow will be assessed in September 2013, and it is hoped that this will provide clear evidence that the project has had a significant effect on water quality and biodiversity.

Helen hopes to continue the project beyond 2013 commenting, “We currently monitor downstream of one of the new reed beds, but in the future we would like to place more monitoring equipment upstream of the reed bed to really see the differences, particularly in levels of turbidity and conductivity.”

The current phase of the project is due to run until the end of 2013, but a series of ‘restoration units’ have been identified by The River Nar Steering group that includes the Norfolk Rivers Trust, each applying restorative work to a specific section of the river. These units extend to 2027 but will be reliant on the availability of future funding.

Clearly, environmental monitoring is essential for the evaluation and ongoing management of remediation projects, and OTT’s UK Managing Director Simon Wills says: “This project is a good example of how simple and low-cost it can now be to create a monitoring station that is sufficiently flexible to collect and transmit data from a variety of monitors. “Advances in sensor, datalogging, communications and power management technology have combined to dramatically improve the effectiveness of remote data collection, which means that less site visits are necessary; thereby saving a great deal of time and money that can be spent on restoration.


Cybersecurity, the cloud & other ICS topics vented at academy

05/04/2013
Focus on Profitability & Efficiency in the Process Industries

ARC Advisory Group’s 9th Process Management Academy (PMA) took place in Antwerp (B) from March 4 to 5, 2013.  Overall, ARC Advisory Group had more than 100 participants who shared their experiences and took the opportunity to network. The forum included presentations from Euriware-Areva, Siemens, Bayer Technology Services, SAP, OMV, HIMA, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, and ARC, among others. The following topics were addressed:· Continuous vs. Batch: How Technology Helps Us to Rethink Traditional Production Methods;  Real-time Process Feedback;  Energy & Material Efficiency Optimization;  Enterprise Asset Management in the Regulated Industries.

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The venue: Radisson BLU Astrid Hotel, Antwerp (B)

Among the highlights were four workshops dealing with Cyber Security, Big Data & the Cloud and Managing Process & Product Data in the Information Age, 3D Simulation & Training in Process Applications, and Optimizing Supply Chains & Demand Response. In these workshops, suppliers and users shared their experiences and needs with respect to products and applications.

Cyber Security in Industrial Control Systems
One of the hot topics at the Process Management Academy 2013 was cyber security in industrial control systems (ICS). The well attended workshop showed that the interest of companies for solutions to protect themselves from cyber attacks is increasing. Within the last few years the amount of reported cyber attacks on the ICS of companies has increased significantly. Also the quality of incidents has changed dramatically. In the past most of the attacks were committed by “script-kiddies” or amateur hackers and the targets in most cases were office IT systems. Nowadays an increasing number of attacks on the industrial infrastructure takes place. While office IT systems can be rebooted, reinstalled and the biggest loss is (leaked) information, attacks on ICSs pose a different risk.

On the one hand organizations close to the governments may have the ability to perform such attacks. On the other hand rival companies or competitors also have the knowledge. Another source of threats may be (former) employees or (sub-) contractors who could have grudges against their former employer and mean to harm him or sell or gain confidential information, said ARC Analyst Stefan Miksch.
• See also our ICS & Scada Security Page!

3D Simulation and Training in Process Applications
Immersive training simulation (ITS) is a form of modern training using 3D models of a process plant where the user can directly control the avatar, giving him the perception he is part of the environment. To train field operators and maintenance personnel of industrial process plants, it is more effective to provide them with a 3D simulation environment in which they can virtually move around, make decisions on their route and their interactions with equipment, than showing them a movie. Someone trained using ITS, has a ‘déjà-vu’ experience when seeing the real plant. Some ITS propose head-mounted devices, 3D projection within a ‘cave’ to make the experience more realistic. These measures increase the cost of ITS, and are not necessary for the immersive experience that can be realized on a flat screen of a standard PC.

A recent trend is to couple traditional operator training simulation (OTS), based in high-fidelity dynamic process simulation, where an operator operates a virtual plant behind a virtual console, and while simultaneously the field operators experience the plant changes on instruments in the simulated field.

What do Big Data and the Cloud Mean to the Process Industries?
At the workshop to explore the impact of Big Data and the Cloud a panel of experts from Siemens, SAP, Microsoft and independent consultant Klaus Koch set the tone for discussion with statements about what Big Data means in the process industries.

One cause of “Big Data” is the digitalization of information that used to be stored on paper. For process users, this means CAD drawings of facilities and process documentation. The move from 2D to 3D CAD caused a leap in the size of CAD files, as does the integration of images created with 3D laser scanners. At the same time, system configuration data for DCS, field devices and engineering and operator stations have grown explosively. Finally, data recorded for operator training and simulation means huge, unwieldy files have to be stored, archived, retrieved and managed.

The Cloud is a solution for Big Data that will play a growing role for process users in the near future. The “public” Cloud is simply any public area on the internet where data can be stored and viewed. This includes social media sites and blogs. A “private” Cloud is data center, usually off-site, that either belongs to the process user’s organization or is operated on the organization’s behalf by a service provider. The workshop attendees brought in views from a variety of end-user industries to discuss which data belong in the Cloud and which data should be handled locally. It was agreed that all mission-critical data should be stored and handled onsite, while other data, such as product schedules that are shared with supply chain partners, would be good candidates for the open, but secure, environment of a private Cloud.

Supply Chain Optimization and Demand Response
The most futuristic discussion at the 2013 PMA was the one in the workshop on “Supply Chain Optimization and Demand Response”.
The main theme in the discussion was the challenge to deal with the constant urge to produce smaller batches and react fast to consumer demand. The workshop was kicked off with an obligatory Henry Ford quotation: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants…so long as it is black”. This comparison to the good old days showed the difference between the variations of the Tin Lizzy and modern cars, such as the Opel Adam (60,000 variations for the outside, 82,000 for the interior).

So, what are the next steps? Production in containers is currently tested but not likely to have a broad impact on the landscape within the next 5 to 10 years. PAT is already changing the pharmaceutical industry today. Single use technologies are also enabling shorter response times in batch processing – especially in the pharmaceutical industry and bioactive materials – where they are established, but still an emerging technology. Micro reactors also have the potential to change manufacturing as you know it today; here a similar system of modularization and scaling up in numbers is used. The technology is available today, but there are still technological issues to solve. In the future, 3D printing can alter the manufacturing landscape fundamentally – ARC has published various reports on this topic. Research shows that at some point in the future micro reactors can be printed by 3D printers … imagine that you can print a chemical plant in 50 years.

Looking at the market dynamics and technological challenges ahead, profitability and efficiency in the process industries will surely keep everyone busy until ARC Europe’s next year’s event.


Pressure Tx demand boosted in Asia

15/03/2013
Escalating energy demand  to  boost Asia’s pressure transmitter market

Pressure transmitter shipments, after returning to pre-recession levels in 2010, saw strong growth in 2011, even surpassing 2010’s growth by several percentage points. Despite the return to positive growth, risks remain. In a connected world, market volatility and political instability impact industrial growth, which in turn affects the pressure transmitter business. The relative slowdown in China and India further increases the risks facing pressure transmitter vendors. Due to the numerous challenges and the lag between orders and final shipment for new projects, many vendors are weighing the financial viability before investing in their manufacturing capacity and after-market service capabilities.

tempTXAsiaAccording to G. Ganapathiraman, Country Manager, ARC India and co-author of ARC’s study titled Pressure Transmitters for Asia Market Research Study  , “Ongoing financial instability continues to plague markets in Asia. However, ARC expects the developing countries such as China and India to drive the majority of Asia’s growth in pressure transmitter shipments going forward.” Countries such as Indonesia and South Korea are also growing at above average growth rates. Despite the country’s slower GDP growth in recent quarters, the electric power industry in China continues its investments, creating opportunities for pressure transmitter suppliers. In India, the need for both increased generating capacity and a more stable power infrastructure to reduce brownouts drives the need for more pressure transmitters.

Market Potential for Pressure Transmitter Suppliers
The oil & gas, electric power, chemicals, and metals & mining industries are leading for the deployment of pressure transmitters. Among these, the metals & mining industry is experiencing above average growth. Asia’s ongoing demand for energy will require more oil and gas, driving demand and long-term energy prices. Finding new oil deposits is becoming more difficult and those that are found tend to be more challenging to develop. Many of these new oil fields produce heavy oil rather than lighter sweet crude oil. The high sulfur content increases refining costs and requires different refining methods. This will spawn investment in new refineries capable of refining the heavy oil deposits in the Asia Pacific region. At the same time, environmental concerns are increasing, creating significant opportunities for pressure transmitter suppliers in the oil & gas industry.

Smart and SIL-rated Transmitters See Big Gains
Sales of smart pressure transmitters will continue to outpace those of conventional and low-cost devices, as users seek to utilize recent technological advances to improve visibility into plant operations to help maximize productivity and the availability of production resources. This user focus on asset management also fuels demand for transmitters that incorporate onboard diagnostics capabilities and use digital communication protocols.

Increasingly tough safety and environmental regulations have helped drive increasing adoption of safety integrity level (SIL)-rated transmitters for safety instrumented systems (SIS) to mitigate the risk of catastrophic events. Pressure transmitters are an integral part of safety instrumented systems, and most leading pressure transmitter suppliers now offer SIL-rated transmitters.


Advanced metering market

24/01/2013
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Market to Grow at Fast Rate, States Frost & Sullivan. Revenues expected to triple – Massive opportunities for communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM), customer and programme data management

SmartMetersLegislation and standardisation are set to catalyse the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) market in Europe. Market participants are working towards standardisation and fulfilling regulatory requirements for the development of smart meters and AMI to begin mass rollouts. In Ireland we are faced with metering of domestic water supply in the short term future for instance.

New analysis from Frost & SullivanEuropean Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Market, finds that the AMI revenue in Europe is expected to grow from €85m ($1.13b) in 2011 to €2.8b ($3.72b) in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9%. The research covers smart meters, installation, communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM) and customer and programme data management.

“Emerging smart grid technologies, which support enhanced energy management, will boost the installation of AMI in Europe,” noted Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Supplies Research Analyst Neha Vikash. “The market is expected to witness higher growth not only in smart meters and the installation segments, but also in communications networks, MDM, customer and programme data management segments as well.” Most companies in the AMI space are not just the hardware (meter) providers. They combine them with important services and appropriate functionalities in communication infrastructure and data management. These are the key technologies for the deployment of innovative solutions. Installation of hardware does not generate a constant stream of revenue.

Despite its obvious benefits, smart meter implementation reveals regional disparities. Market growth has been faster in Western and Northern Europe. The lack of regulatory drive and utility implementations has affected installation rates in Central and Eastern Europe. It is expected that the smart metering activity in the CEE region will follow the Western European knowledge wave and experience. “It is also expected that once large scale roll out activity begins in Central and Eastern Europe, the pace of implementation will be faster compared to that of Western Europe,” concluded Vikash. “Regulatory approval, along with increased competition, aging infrastructure, and new technology will continue to drive investments in advanced metering and intelligent grid technologies.”

Nevertheless, EU member states that lack the regulatory push for deployment will experience large-scale implementation after 2015, as they have to comply with the EU’s Third Energy Directive, or pay a high penalty fee.

“AMI is an important step towards achieving the EU 20-20-20 goal which states that by 2020, 80 per cent of households must have smart meters and complete rollout achieved by 2022,” elaborated Vikash. “Government mandates will, therefore, be a key driver for AMI deployment.”

In addition to legislation, the lack of communication standards and security issues also play a major role in determining market prospects. In fact, data security is an issue among all member states, but it is of higher importance in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. This has resulted in a delay in smart meter roll out plans by utilities.

“Standardisation is likely to affect future smart meter sales, development and innovation,” concluded Vikash. “Meters complying with security requirements as per the standardisation mandate as well as satisfying regional legislative security requirements are likely to encourage customers to adopt smart meters.”


Remote-control boat speeds reservoir surveys

10/12/2012

As the regulatory requirement, in Britain and elsewhere, to assess reservoirs and lakes expands to include smaller bodies of water, HR Wallingford has developed a remote control boat which is able to collect hydrometric data quickly, simply, safely and accurately.

ARC Boat

ARC Boat

The ARC-Boat employs a sophisticated SonTek  M9 Acoustic Doppler Profiler (ADP®) which is a 5-beam depth sounding device that scans the reservoir bed as the boat is guided across the water’s surface. Recorded data are analysed by SonTek Hydrosurveyor software to produce accurate depth measurement in addition to 3-D maps of the entire water body. With a small amount of post-processing in GIS or 3D CAD, an accurate water volume can be determined.

Craig Goff, a reservoir Supervising Panel Engineer and dam specialist at HR Wallingford has used the ARC-Boat in a trial project to assess five reservoirs and says “This new method offers tremendous advantages over traditional manned boat techniques because it is faster, safer, more environmentally friendly and involves fewer staff and resources. All of this combines to mean that it saves a great deal of time and money. This is particularly important because the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 will necessitate the volumetric assessment of many water bodies that have previously been below the threshold and therefore outside of the ambit of the Reservoirs Act 1975.”

Reservoir regulations
As a result of residential and industrial development in recent decades, the levels of risk associated with many British reservoirs have changed, and the British Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has amended their Reservoirs Act 1975 to bring a more risk-based approach to reservoir regulation. The 2010 Act seeks to achieve this by:

1. reducing the capacity at which a reservoir will be regulated from 25,000m³ to 10,000m³
2. requiring all Undertakers with reservoirs over 10,000m³ to register their reservoirs with the Environment Agency
3. ensuring that only those reservoirs assessed as high risk are subject to full regulation

The reservoir sections of the 2010 Act are dependent upon on the development of secondary legislation which is likely to specify the reservoir capacity above which water bodies will be regulated. However, irrespective of the content of this secondary legislation, the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has clearly generated an urgent need for reservoir assessment and the application of the ARC-Boat for reservoir bathymetry is therefore propitious.

Technology
The ARC-Boat has been designed with a V-shaped hull to give optimal manoeuvrability and minimal air entrainment beneath the ADP, ensuring high quality data collection. The robust and reliable design, including grab handles fitted to the upper deck, mean that the boat can be launched from the most difficult locations and a unique detachable bow means that the ARC-Boat can easily be transported in an average sized car.

SonTek M9

SonTek M9

The SonTek M9 is a 9 beam acoustic Doppler profiler, using 5 beams at any one moment for depth measurements from a wide footprint on the water bed. This means that the time spent ‘driving’ the boat is minimised in comparison with single beam instruments. Importantly, the M9 is able to operate in depths ranging from 15cm to over 40m.

The boat employs industry standard remote control with a minimum range in excess of 200m and Bluetooth communications provide data transmission to an onshore laptop.

Data Management
HydroSurveyor™ is a system designed to collect bathymetric, water column velocity profile, and acoustic bottom tracking data as part of a hydrographic survey. The two key components of the system are the HydroSurveyor™ Acoustic Doppler Profiler (ADP®) platform, and the powerful, yet user-friendly, data collection software.

With the HydroSurveyor™ platform, SonTek is able to offer an exclusive 5-beam depth sounding device, with built-in navigation, full water column velocity (currents) profiling, full compensation for speed of sound (with the CastAway-CTD), and integrated positioning solution.

HydroSurveyer Real-time Data Shot!

HydroSurveyer Real-time Data Shot!

Trial Results
Craig Goff is extremely pleased with the results of the initial trials on five reservoirs in southern England. He says: “The M9 performed very well, running from 8am to 4.30pm each day on a single set of batteries. We were able to conduct the surveys much faster than has ever been possible before, without the health and safety risks of putting staff over water and the environmental risks of diesel powered larger survey boats. Most importantly, however, we were able to produce high quality accurate data for a modest price and our client was very pleased with the results.”

Applications for the ARC-Boat
In addition to the smaller reservoirs that will have to be surveyed, larger reservoirs will be able to take advantage of the new technology to assist in operations such as the creation of sedimentation models. These models inform strategies to prevent capacity depletion and to extend the lives of reservoirs through flushing, excavation, dredging etc. Similarly, ARC-Boat surveys can be employed around submerged hydropower or draw off pipe intakes to assess sedimentation levels – a vitally important role because sediment can seriously damage turbines, or influence operation of scour pipes or water supply draw off pipes from reservoirs.

Summary
As a result of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, the owners of small reservoirs will need to prove whether their water bodies are affected by the amended Reservoirs Act 1975, by determining an accurate volume figure for their reservoirs. Typically, this will include landowners, farmers and organisations such as the National Trust. However, the development of the ARC-Boat with the M9 and the latest HydroSuveyor™ software mean that such work is now faster, safer and significantly lower cost. This is good news for the owners of smaller reservoirs for whom any survey cost is a new cost.

 

 


Material testing outlook

26/03/2012
Emerging application markets and technology areas will open up niche opportunities for newer, smaller companies

The material testing market is currently undergoing a period of recovery and stabilization after significant losses sustained during the economic downturn. The recovery of its key traditional end-user industries has been pivotal in driving this revival.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the Material Testing Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of €374.5 ($495.6) million in 2010 and estimates this to reach €446.8 ($591.1) million in 2015.

Market recovery has been fuelled by demand from traditional end-user markets. Although the impact of the downturn continues to linger, the recovery has been remarkable.

“2009 was one of the most difficult periods for the material testing market,” explains Frost & Sullivan Program Manager Vijay Mathew. “However, demand from traditionally strong users of material testing equipment such as automotive, aerospace, primary metals, and plastics have helped the industry bounce back.”

In addition to traditionally large end-user sectors, novel applications in the fields of biomedical, composites, medical devices and nanotechnology are expected to boost the market in the coming years.

While new opportunities are emerging, a key challenge remains the presence of established participants in the market. This has limited the business opportunities for smaller companies.

“The material testing market comprises a range of competitors of varying size and reach,” says Mathew. “The top three market participants occupy a significant amount of market and mind share, and drive critical parameters that define this market – such as price points and regulatory and standardization trends – making it difficult for emerging participants to gain a foothold.”

While this is both a restraint and challenge for newer and smaller material test equipment vendors, it can be overcome by focusing on emerging opportunities from geographical, technological, and application perspectives.

“With the emergence of new application markets and technology areas, niche opportunities do exist,” concludes Mathew. “Also, certain customers located in specific regions prefer working with local test equipment vendors rather than multinational organizations.”

For more information on this study, please send an email with your contact details to Anna Zanchi, Corporate Communications, at anna.zanchi@frost.com.

Analysis of the Material Testing Equipment Marketis part of the Test & Measurement Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: World NVH Test Equipment Market, World Nondestructive Test (NDT) Equipment Markets and World Condition Monitoring Equipment Market.


Mini high performance low-cost sensors forecast!

29/11/2011
The global demand for highly selective, sensitive and cost-effective sensors is rising – Miniaturization and choice of materials will be key factors

Over the years, the basic principle of sensor operation has remained unchanged and so has the working methodology of advanced sensors. What has changed, however, is the type of materials and sensing principles employed in the manufacture of new sensors.


World Emerging Sensors Markets is part of the Sensors & Instrumentation Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: World Fiber Optic Sensors Markets, World Flow Sensors & Transmitters Markets, and World Proximity & Displacement Sensors Markets. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Sensing technologies are expected to go beyond the traditional principles of piezoresistive, capacitive, and inductive, while emerging sensor materials such as silicon carbide (SiC), carbon nanotube (CNT) and indium antimonide have enabled sensor penetration into new applications.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Emerging Sensors Markets, finds that in the next 7 to 10 years miniaturization of systems is expected to drive innovation. OEMs will increasingly incorporate smaller sensors to improve performance, reliability, and longevity as well as reduce costs. Sensor materials are also expected to play a key role in such developments.

“Small form factor, less power consumption, higher feature integration, and low costs are some of the trends driving sensors market growth in numerous industries and applications,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst V. Sankaranarayanan. “In addition, supporting electronics and packaging have become more advanced, so much so that sensors have become indispensable in every walk of life.”

Despite the potential and benefits of sensors, many end users prefer traditional technologies, due to their inadequate knowledge of innovations and application areas. However, cutting-edge sensor technologies offer many benefits, such as greater ease of installation, accuracy, as well as energy and cost savings. Vendors therefore need to educate end users about the benefits of advanced and emerging sensor technology through literature.

The rapid growth in consumer electronics, increasing concern about safety at the borders and in nuclear power plants, as well as environmental applications, make a robust case for the use of sensors.

“To produce sensors using advanced materials at reasonable costs and in large volumes, manufacturers have to optimize processes that are compatible with silicon to reduce the cost of commercialization,” notes Sankaranarayanan. “They will also have to ensure flexible integration with high-temperature electronics to overcome technical limitations and further promote the adoption of inventive sensors.”


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