Managing NOx gas emissions from combustion.

26/09/2019
Pollution can only be managed effectively if it is monitored effectively.

James Clements

As political pressure increases to limit the emissions of the oxides of nitrogen, James Clements, Managing Director of the Signal Group, explains how the latest advances in monitoring technology can help.

Nitrogen and oxygen are the two main components of atmospheric air, but they do not react at ambient temperature. However, in the heat of combustion, such as in a vehicle engine or within an industrial furnace or process, the gases react to form nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). This is an important consideration for the manufacturers of combustion equipment because emissions of these gases (collectively known as NOx) have serious health and environmental effects, and are therefore tightly regulated.

Nitrogen dioxide gas is a major pollutant in ambient air, responsible for large numbers of premature deaths, particularly in urban areas where vehicular emissions accumulate. NO2 also contributes to global warming and in some circumstances can cause acid rain. A wide range of regulations therefore exist to limit NOx emissions from combustion sources ranging from domestic wood burners to cars, and from industrial furnaces and generators to power stations. The developers of engines and furnaces therefore focus attention on the NOx emissions of their designs, and the operators of this equipment are generally required to undertake emissions monitoring to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

The role of monitoring in NOx reduction
NOx emissions can be reduced by:

  • reducing peak combustion temperature
  • reducing residence time at the peak temperature
  • chemical reduction of NOx during the combustion process
  • reducing nitrogen in the combustion process

These primary NOx reduction methods frequently involve extra cost or lower combustion efficiency, so NOx measurements are essential for the optimisation of engine/boiler efficiency. Secondary NOx reduction measures are possible by either chemical reduction or sorption/neutralisation. Naturally, the effects of these measures also require accurate emissions monitoring and control.

Choosing a NOx analyser
In practice, the main methods employed for the measurement of NOx are infrared, chemiluminescence and electrochemical. However, emissions monitoring standards are mostly performance based, so users need to select analysers that are able to demonstrate the required performance specification.

Rack Analyser

Infrared analysers measure the absorption of an emitted infrared light source through a gas sample. In Signal’s PULSAR range, Gas Filter Correlation technology enables the measurement of just the gas or gases of interest, with negligible interference from other gases and water vapour. Alternatively, FTIR enables the simultaneous speciation of many different species, including NO and NO2, but it is costly and in common with other infrared methods, is significantly less sensitive than CLD.

Electrochemical sensors are low cost and generally offer lower levels of performance. Gas diffuses into the sensor where it is oxidised or reduced, which results in a current that is limited by diffusion, so the output from these sensors is proportional to the gas concentration. However, users should take into consideration potential cross-sensitivities, as well as rigorous calibration requirements and limited sensor longevity.

The chemiluminescence detector (CLD) method of measuring NO is based on the use of a controlled amount of Ozone (O3) coming into contact with the sample containing NO inside a light sealed chamber. This chamber has a photomultiplier fitted so that it measures the photons given off by the reaction that takes place between NO and O3.

NO is oxidised by the O3 to become NO2 and photons are released as a part of the reaction. This chemiluminescence only occurs with NO, so in order to measure NO2 it is necessary to first convert it to NO. The NO2 value is added to the NO reading and this is equates to the NOx value.

Most of the oxides of nitrogen coming directly from combustion processes are NO, but much of it is further oxidised to NO2 as the NO mixes with air (which is 20.9% Oxygen). For regulatory monitoring, NO2 is generally the required measurement parameter, but for combustion research and development NOx is the common measurand. Consequently, chemiluminescence is the preferred measurement method for development engineers at manufacturer laboratories working on new technologies to reduce NOx emissions in the combustion of fossil fuels. For regulatory compliance monitoring, NDIR (Non-Dispersive Infrared) is more commonly employed.

Typical applications for CLD analysers therefore include the development and manufacture of gas turbines, large stationary diesel engines, large combustion plant process boilers, domestic gas water heaters and gas-fired factory space heaters, as well as combustion research, catalyst efficiency, NOx reduction, bus engine retrofits, truck NOx selective catalytic reduction development and any other manufacturing process which burns fossil fuels.

These applications require better accuracy than regulatory compliance because savings in the choice of analyser are negligible in comparison with the market benefits of developing engines and furnaces with superior efficiency and better, cleaner emissions.

Signal Group always offers non-heated, non-vacuum CLD analysers for combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations because these stations emit lower than average NOx levels. NDIR analysers typically have a range of 100ppm whereas CLD analysers are much more sensitive, with a lower range of 10ppm. Combustion processes operating with de-NOX equipment will need this superior level of sensitivity.

There is a high proportion of NO2 in the emissions of CCGT plants because they run with high levels of air in the combustion process, so it is necessary to convert NO2 to NO prior to analysis. Most CLD analysers are supplied with converters, but NDIR analysers are not so these are normally installed separately when NDIR is used.

In the USA, permitted levels for NOx are low, and many plants employ de-NOx equipment, so CLD analysers are often preferred. In Europe, the permitted levels are coming down, but there are fewer CCGT Large Plant operators, and in other markets such as India and China, permitted NOx emissions are significantly higher and NDIR is therefore more commonly employed.

In England, the Environment Agency requires continuous emissions monitors (CEMS) to have a range no more than 2.5 times the permitted NOx level, so as a manufacturer of both CLD and NDIR analysers, this can be a determining factor for Signal Group when deciding which analysers to recommend. The UK has a large number of CCGT power plants in operation and Signal Group has a high number of installed CEMS at these sites, but very few new plants have been built in recent years.

New NOx analysis technology
Signal Group recently announced the launch of the QUASAR Series IV gas analysers which employ CLD for the continuous measurement of NOx, Nitric Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide or Ammonia in applications such as engine emissions, combustion studies, process monitoring, CEMS and gas production.

Chemiluminescence Analyser

The QUASAR instruments exploit the advantages of heated vacuum chemiluminescence, offering higher sensitivity with minimal quenching effects, and a heated reaction chamber that facilitates the processing of hot, wet sample gases without condensation. Signal’s vacuum technology improves the signal to noise ratio, and a fast response time makes it ideal for real-time reporting applications. However, a non-vacuum version is available for trace NOx measurements such as RDE (Real-world Driving Emissions) on-board vehicle testing, for which a 24VDC version is available.

A key feature of these latest instruments is the communications flexibility – all of the new Series IV instruments are compatible with 3G, 4G, GPRS, Bluetooth, Wifi and satellite communications; each instrument has its own IP address and runs on Windows software. This provides users with simple, secure access to their analyzers at any time, from almost anywhere.

In summary, it is clear that the choice of analyser is dictated by the application, so it is important to discuss this with appropriate suppliers/manufacturers. However, with the latest instruments, Signal’s customers can look forward to monitoring systems that are much more flexible and easier to operate. This will improve NOx reduction measures, and thereby help to protect both human health and the environment.


Carry on regardless?

20/08/2019

It is with a mixture of foreboding and uncertainty the people of Britain are looking forward to this years Halloween – 31st October 2019. The feeling in the rest of Europe may be described as sorrow mixed with total incomprehension.  Business struggles on however and continues to function despite the planned and unplanned difficulties chosen by the people and/or their elected representatives.

“Will I go or will I stay?”

As an example the annual Advanced Engineering event at Britain’s National Exhibition Centre (the NEC) near the English midland city of Birmingham. It is described by the organisers as “The UK’s must-attend event for advanced manufacturing technology, innovation and supply chain solutions” where the many thousands of visitors will be guaranteed to “come away from their visit with ideas to grow their businesses for the future. See, touch and discover the newest technologies to achieve production efficiencies, reduce time and costs, and get you ahead of your competitors.”

With opportunities to network with some 15,000 professionals from OEMs and supply chain partners, Advanced Engineering provides a platform for knowledge transfer and business discussions across R & D, design, test, measurement & inspection, raw materials & processing, manufacturing, production and automation.

If, as is now widely expected, Britain drops out of the European Union at 11.00 pm on the 31st of October the complete business picture of trade within and outside of the United Kingdom will have altered in a mirad of small and great ways.

The European Union will have been diminished by one member state from 28 to 27 independent states. Suppliers and their goods, and buyers from states outside of the United Kingdom, freely admitted to the country to attend the show will experience, many for the first time, the sort of border controls and delays that are usual for those travelling to “third countries,”  if they delay their departure to the day after the event finishes.  This appears to be the implication of the current British Home Secretary if the Daily Telegraph newspaper’s report is to be believed. “Freedom of movement by European Union nationals into the UK will end overnight from October 31 in the event of a no deal Brexit, Priti Patel has signalled.”

As somebody, a Citizen of the European Union, who travels frequently to Britain for this and other events this is a new hurdle to be crossed and to be taken into consideration when travelling to this new “third country!” It will be so much easier to travel to such events in Germany, France and Italy. It will be so much easier to get goods and people from these countries than from what used to be the closest and easiest to deal with country.

But of course we have no idea how this whole thing. Still! How plaintive do the words of outgoing head of the European Commission in 2016 sound now, “But I thought they had a plan!” And how grimly prophetic sound those blunt words of the outgoing European Council President more recently when he mused on “What that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely”

At the moment this writer is undecided on travelling to this event. I have my car insured now to travel in a third country but I am uncertain if I am prepared to weather the delays that must occur as I endevour to board a ferry.

Since this was published news has broken that valid Irish insurance discs will serve as proof of insurance for those driving Irish registered vehicles in Britain and Northern Ireland, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

One thing I am sure that Britain will muddle through this puzzle but how I am not sure. Nor am I sure do the powers that be!

Our last article on this topic ended with the statement “Nobody knows!”

Not much has changed and everything has changed and yet “Nobody knows!”

• An interesting aside that I have seen rarely mentioned, is that all those born in Northern Ireland whether or not they voted for or against this decision may remain as citizens of the European Union by virtue of their right to be Irish Citizenship whether or not Britain leaves, remains or drops out of the Union. This is guaranteed by the International Agreement signed by the United Kingdom and Ireland and guaranteed by the European Union and usually referred to as the Good Friday Agreement.

See also:
Who knows? The Brexit dilemma! (Feb 2019)
Nobody knows! (June 2016)

#Brexit #PAuto #AEUK19 @advancedenguk


Keep making the tablets!

08/05/2018
This article shows how valuable manufacturing production line downtime in the pharmaceutical industry can be reduced by ensuring predictive maintenance of tablet making machinery using Harting’s MICA industrial computing platform.

Introduction
Harting recently challenged postgraduate students from the Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence at Loughborough University to investigate practical application solutions where MICA – the company’s innovative open platform based ruggedised industrial edge computing device – could be applied to the benefit of manufacturing. Simple seamless integration within existing established production processes was the target, based on the concept of machine predictive maintenance.

The key objective was to achieve immediate productivity improvements and return on investment (RoI), thus satisfying the increasing trend for Integrated Industry 4.0 implementation on the factory floor. One such proposal was suggested for volume manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry: in particular, those companies manufacturing tablets using automated presses and punch tools.

Data from these machines can be collected using passive UHF RFID “on metal” transponders which can be retrofitted to existing tablet press machines and mounted on the actual press-die/punch tools. The RFID read and write tags can record the pressing process, i.e. the number of operations performed by a particular press die, plus any other critical operating sensor-monitored conditions. The system can then review that data against expected normal end-of-life projected limits set for that die.

Such data can be managed and processed through Harting’s MICA edge computing device, which can then automatically alert the machine operator that maintenance needs to take place to replace a particular die-set before it creates a catastrophic tool failure condition and breakdown in the production line – which unfortunately is still quite a common occurrence.

Open system software
MICA is easy to use, with a touch-optimised interface for end users and administrators implemented entirely in HTML5 and JavaScript. It provides an open system software environment that allows developers from both the production and IT worlds to quickly implement and customise projects without any special tools. Applications are executed in their own Linux-based containers, which contain all the necessary libraries and drivers. This means that package dependencies and incompatibilities are eliminated. In addition, such containers run in individual “sandboxes” which isolate and secure different applications from one another with their own separate log-in and IP addresses. As a result, there should be no concerns over data security when MICA is allowed access to a higher-level production ERP network.

MICA is already offered with a number of containers such as Java, Python C/C++, OPC-UA, databases and web toolkits, all available on free download via the HARTING web site. As a result, users should be able to download links to the operating software system compatible with an existing machine, enabling full 2-way communication with the MICA device. Relaying such manufacturing information, which can comprise many gigabytes of data in the course of a day, directly to the ERP would normally overwhelm both the network and the ERP. With the MICA, this data stream is buffered directly onto the machine and can be reduced to just essential business-critical data using proven tools from the IT world.

The resultant improvements in productivity include:

– Less downtime reduces the amount of money lost during unforeseen maintenance of damaged punch tools.
– Individual punch identification will help in removing a specific punch, once it has reached its pre-set operational frequency working limit.
– A digital log of each punch and the number of tablets that it has produced is recorded. This provides vital information for GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) regulators such as the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) or the FDA (Food & Drug Administration).

A further benefit is that MICA is very compact, with DIN rail mounting fixing options that allow it to be easily accommodated inside a machine’s main control cabinet.

@HARTING #PAuto #Pharma @CDT_EI

Electric vehicle pioneer favours wireless test rigs.

12/02/2018

A company that has been at the forefront of electric vehicle design and development for over 20 years has supplied a test rig based on a wireless torque sensor to a world renowned British University automotive research facility.

Tirius has been built on pioneering work on an all-electric single seat racing car and a series of record breaking vehicles. It continues to bring the latest technology to clients in the form of product design and development and the provision of its range of electric drive systems.

Head of Tirius, Dr Tim Allen, explains: “We are helping the university’s research team develop electric drive train technology typically found in ‘A-Class’ cars, for example urban runarounds and small family hatchbacks. Specifically we are currently looking at permanent magnet traction motors in a number of sizes and configurations, with a view to optimising electronic control for each motor type.”

The research involves running each motor on a test rig through its full output range and mapping its torque output at many points to build up a performance profile. The design of the controller can then be matched to the motor characteristics. This should be able to ensure that the motor runs in its optimum operating zone as much as possible, maximises motor life and regenerative braking, minimising wear, and is as energy efficient as possible.

The design of the test rig is in fact quite simple, thanks to the torque sensor, a TorqSense, as made by Sensor Technology.

“We are pleased to promote TorqSense and the guys at Sensor Technology,” says Tim. “We have been using their kit for many years and in many different roles. The bottom line is that they are easy to use, accurate and great value – partly because they can be re-used once their original project has been completed.

TorqSense is a good choice for this work because its non-contact operation allows rapid set-up during the profile building test runs. It also means extra drag forces are not added to the system, so measurements represent true values and calculations are therefore straightforward.”

TorqSense uses two piezo-electric combs which are simply glued to the drive shaft at right angles to one another. As the shaft turns it naturally twists along its length very slightly and in proportion to the torque, which deforms the combs changing their piezo-signature. This change is measured wirelessly by a radio frequency pick up and is a measure of the instantaneous torque value.

Its data is output to a very user-friendly computer screen which uses graphics to aid easy interpretations. In fact the display on the computer is similar to a car’s dashboard, so most people understand it intuitively. Further, the data is automatically logged for further analysis.

Tim again: “With our type of research work there are some potential errors that we have to look out for, including time-based zero-drift, bending moments on the shaft, bearing losses, temperature fluctuations etc. These are easily accounted for with TorqSense-based test rigs. Normally you have to account for the drag caused by the slip rings, but the wireless TorqSense does not use them, so that is one less calculation – and one less fiddly fixing task.

“A great benefit of TorqSense is the ease with which it can be mounted and dismounted, which simplifies research work where frequent reconfiguring is required.”

The University project will take two or three years to complete and the TorqSense test rig will be worked hard during this time. “At the end of the work, I have no doubt that the TorqSense will be reused in a new research program. It’s what we do in-house at Tirius.”

 

@sensortech #PAuto

The ‘ins and outs’ of air quality monitoring!

20/02/2017
The British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently issued draft guidance on ‘Air pollution – outdoor air quality and health.’ 

Here, Jim Mills, Managing Director of Air Monitors Ltd, explains why there will need to be more funding for monitoring if the mitigation measures mentioned in the guidance are to be implemented effectively. Jim also highlights the close relationship between outdoor air quality and the (often ignored) problems with indoor air quality.

The NICE guidelines are being developed for Local Authority staff working in: transport, planning, air quality management and public health. The guidance is also relevant for staff in healthcare, employers, education professionals and the general public.

Covering road-traffic-related air pollution and its links to ill health, the guidelines aim to improve air quality and so prevent a range of health conditions and deaths. Unfortunately, on the day that the draft guideline was published, most of the national media focused on one relatively minor recommendation relating to speed bumps. ‘Where physical measures are needed to reduce speed, such as humps and bumps, ensure they are designed to minimise sharp decelerations and consequent accelerations.’ Measures to encourage ‘smooth driving’ are outlined; however, the guidelines also address a wide range of other issues, which, in combination, would help tackle urban air pollution.

Public sector transport services should implement measures to reduce emissions, but this is an area that could involve the greatest financial cost.

Many local authorities would doubtless comment that they are already implementing many of the guideline recommendations, but refer to budgetary constraints on issues that involve upfront costs. This issue was raised on BBC Radio 4 when the issue was discussed on 1st December.

AQMesh Pod

AQMesh Pod

The NICE guidelines recommend the inclusion of air quality issues in new developments to ensure that facilities such as schools, nurseries and retirement homes are located in areas where pollution levels will be low. LAs are also urged to consider ways to mitigate road-traffic-related air pollution and consider using the Community Infrastructure Levy for air quality monitoring. There are also calls for information on air quality to be made more readily available.

LAs are also being urged to consider introducing clean air zones including progressive targets to reduce pollutant levels below the EU limits, and where traffic congestion contributes to poor air quality, consideration should be given to a congestion charging zone. The guidelines also highlight the importance of monitoring to measure the effects of these initiatives.

As part of the consultation process, NICE is looking for evidence of successful measures and specifically rules out “studies which rely exclusively on modelling.”

In summary, all of the initiatives referred to in the NICE report necessitate monitoring in order to be able to measure their effectiveness. However, most LAs do not currently possess the monitoring capability to do so. This is because localised monitoring would be necessary before and after the implementation of any initiative. Such monitoring would need to be continuous, accurate and web-enabled so that air pollution can be monitored in real-time. AQMesh is therefore the ideal solution; small, lightweight, quick and easy to install, these air quality monitors are able to monitor all the main pollutants, including particulates, simultaneously, delivering accurate data wirelessly via the internet.

Whilst AQMesh ‘pods’ are very significantly lower in cost both to buy and to run than traditional reference stations, they still represent a ‘new’ cost. However any additional costs are trivial in comparison with the costs associated with the adverse health effects caused by poor air quality, as evidenced in the recent report from the Royal College of Physicians.

Inside Out or Outside In?

Fidas® Frog

Fidas® Frog

The effects of air pollution are finally becoming better known, but almost all of the publicity focuses on outdoor air pollution. In contrast, indoor air quality is rarely in the media, except following occasional cases of Carbon Monoxide poisoning or when ‘worker lethargy’ or ‘sick building syndrome’ are addressed. However, it is important to understand the relationship between outdoor air quality and indoor air quality. Air Monitors is currently involved in a number of projects in which air quality monitoring is being undertaken both outside and inside large buildings, and the results have been extremely interesting.

Poorly ventilated offices tend to suffer from increased Carbon Dioxide as the working day progresses, leading to worker lethargy. In many cases HVAC systems bring in ‘fresh’ air to address this issue, but if that fresh air is in a town or city, it is likely to be polluted – possibly from particulates if it is not sufficiently filtered and most likely from Nitrogen Dioxide. Ventilating with outdoor air from street level is most likely to bring air pollution into the office, so many inlets are located at roof level. However, data from recent studies indicate that the height of the best air quality can vary according to the weather conditions, so it is necessary to utilise a ‘smart’ system that monitors air quality at different levels outside the building, whilst also monitoring at a variety of locations inside the building. Real-time data from a smart monitoring network then informs the HVAC control system, which should have the ability to draw air from different inlets if available and to decide on ventilation rates depending on the prevailing air quality at the inlets. This allows the optimisation of the internal CO2, temperature and humidity whilst minimising the amount of external pollutants brought into the indoor space. In circumstances where the outside air may be too polluted to be used to ventilate, it can be pre-cleaned by scrubbing the pollutant gases in the air handling system before being introduced inside the building.

Fidas200The implementation of smart monitoring and control systems for buildings is now possible thanks to advances in communications and monitoring technology. AQMesh pods can be quickly and easily installed at various heights outside buildings and further units can be deployed internally; all feeding near-live data to a central control system.

Another example of indoor air quality monitoring instrumentation developing from outdoor technology is the ‘Fidas Frog,’ a new fine dust aerosol spectrometer developed by the German company Palas. The Frog is an indoor, wireless, battery-powered version of the hugely popular, TÜV and MCERTS certified Fidas 200. Both instruments provide simultaneous determination of PM fractions, particle number and particle size distribution, including the particle size ranges PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10 and TSP.

Evidence of outdoor air pollution contaminating indoor air can be obtained with the latest Black Carbon monitors that can distinguish between the different optical signatures of combustion sources such as diesel, biomass, and tobacco. The new microAeth® MA200 for example, is a compact, real-time, wearable (400g) Black Carbon monitor with built-in pump, flow control, data storage, and battery with onboard GPS and satellite time synchronisation. Samples are collected on an internal filter tape and wireless communications are provided for network or smartphone app integration and connection to other wireless sensors. The MA200 is able to monitor continuously for 2-3 weeks. Alternatively, with a greater battery capacity, the MA300 is able to provide 3-12 months of continuous measurements.

In summary, a complete picture of indoor air quality can be delivered by a combination of AQMesh for gases, the Palas Frog for particulates and the microAeth instruments for Black Carbon. All of these instruments are compact, battery-powered, and operate wirelessly, but most importantly, they provide both air quality data AND information on the likely source of any contamination, so that the indoor effects of outdoor pollution can be attributed correctly.

@airmonitors #Environment #PAuto @_Enviro_News


Treating wastewater as a resource.

27/09/2016
A number of British landfill operators are turning wastewater into a resource by utilising OTT monitoring and control systems to manage the irrigation of Willow crops (for renewable energy generation) with pre-treated effluent.

Background
Leachate from landfill sites represents a significant potential environmental liability, extending long into the future after a landfill site has closed. Conventional treatment and disposal options involve biological treatment and consented discharge to either the wastewater treatment network or to the environment. Alternatively, effluent may be collected by tanker for treatment and disposal off-site. However, to improve sustainability and broaden the treatment options, work initiated in the 1990s developed an approach that sought to use effluent as a source of nutrients and water for a Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) crop planted upon the restored landfill.

Willows fed on wastewater!

Willows fed on wastewater!

Following the success of early trials, the Environment Agency published a Regulatory Position Statement in 2008, which said: ‘SRC as part of a landfill leachate treatment process… is a technique (that) can be an environmentally acceptable option if managed appropriately.’

Early systems were operated and managed manually but with the addition of OTT sensors, telemetry and control systems, the process was automated to optimise irrigation and maximise both the disposal of effluent and biomass yield.

Willow SRC has become increasingly popular in environmental restoration work, providing a cost-effective material for stabilisation and reclamation of disturbed landscapes, bioremediation and biomass production.

SRC involves the planting of high yielding varieties of willow at a high density, typically 15,000 plants per hectare. The crop can be expected to last for around 30 years, with harvesting taking place every 3-5 years, and yields varying from 8 to 18 tonnes of dry woodchip per hectare per year. Willow grows quickly and has a particularly high demand for water, so it is ideal for the disposal of large volumes of treated effluent. In addition, the high planting density results in the development of a dense root hair system; effectively creating a biological filter for the treatment of organic compounds and the absorption of nutrients and some heavy metals. Soil fauna help to break down the effluents applied to the crop and soil particles control the availability of nutrients to the willow.

Monitoring and control
In early schemes, irrigation was managed manually on a timed basis with irrigation quantities based on external estimates of evapotranspiration. However, increased levels of monitoring and control are now possible. OTT’s Matthew Ellison explains: “The key objective is to supply the crop with an optimised amount of water, whilst minimising the requirement for staff on site. Too much irrigation would cause run-off and too little would under-utilise the treated effluent and result in poor growth conditions which would affect yield and potentially threaten the crop.

Soil moisture sensors

Soil moisture sensors

“An on-site weather station feeds local weather data to the system which uses crop data to predict evapotranspiration that is used to determine irrigation rates. Soil moisture sensors then check that soil moisture status is correct. Other sensors monitor the performance of the system; checking irrigation feed reservoir level, in-pipe pressure and there are sensors to check flow rates from the drip-feed irrigation. This communication capability is made possible with OTT’s Adcon Telemetry radio network.

“Our latest monitoring and control equipment automates the management of the system for unattended operation and staff are only required by exception. This means that the system is able to operate autonomously, delivering regular data reports, and staff are notified by email or text if alarm conditions occur.”

Emphasising the advantages of controlling the entire network, Matthew adds: “This system facilitates the ability to control and synchronise the main pump, and to open and close the valves at each irrigation zone.”

The latest OTT monitoring and control systems include:

  1. Soil moisture sensors
  2. Irrigation tank level sensors
  3. Irrigation function check sensors
  4. Pipe valves and pressure sensors
  5. Automatic weather station (to calculate local evapotranspiration)
  6. Radio telemetry
  7. ADCON Gateway and PC running addVANTAGE software
  8. Internet connectivity for remote log in

Summary
Looking back over a number of SRC projects, Stephen Farrow one of the instigators of this approach in the UK, and now an Independent Consultant says: “When viewed practically, environmentally and commercially, experience has demonstrated the viability of the overall approach.

“It is also clear that process optimisation with relatively low cost investment in OTT’s monitoring and control equipment has significantly added to the support functionality in terms of both operation and regulatory management.’’

OTT’s Matthew Ellison agrees, adding: “SRC clearly offers a sustainable option for effluent treatment, with highly positive effects on carbon footprint and biodiversity.

“In addition to the environmental benefits, process automation has significantly reduced labour requirements and helped to demonstrate compliance with the site-specific requirements of the Environment Agency.”


Brexit woes continue.

02/08/2016
This is a short piece from Nick Denbow, in the July Issue of Industrial Automation Insider*  on the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. See our earlier piece “Nobody knows!” (30/6/2016)

The first thing that Great Britain’s new government, under Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, did was to quash talk of a new referendum that might end Brexit before it actually gets started. The government says it plans to go ahead with the exit of Great Britain from the European Union, despite angry words from Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which client states voted emphatically to stay in the EU.

zollschildThis impacts manufacturing and automation system companies in quite a few different ways. The membership of Great Britain and Ireland in the EU made it possible to conduct business across country barriers with so much ease that the borders were essentially invisible. Personnel could be sent wherever needed, not where they were citizens. Inventory could be stored anywhere in the EU for shipment anywhere in the EU and things like FAT tests and FEED projects could be done anywhere without regard for borders.

“The connection of just about anything via the Internet is expected to grow rapidly through 2016 and well into the future, significantly boosting opportunities for tech specialists, particularly cybersecurity professionals. Complicating this is the recent investment by the EU of US $500 million to fund research into cybersecurity, and its call for industry to invest at least three times that amount to protect the EU economy from cyberattacks. Under the plan, the European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive body, has launched a public-private partnership under the European Cyber Security Organization, which calls for EU member states and cybersecurity bodies, including market players, research centers, and academia, to strengthen their cooperation and pool their knowledge to increase Europe’s cyber resilience. It’s not clear at this point where, or if, the UK would fit into this program.” –Ron Schnieiderman on IEEE Careers site.

This will no longer be true, as Brexit takes hold, and companies are now having to do significant amounts of strategic planning based on this very large Great-Britain-sized hole in the EU. Further, other countries are making noises like they might want to break up the EU entirely, which is a different bucket of fish entirely. European automation companies have prospered because of the borderless and customs-less conditions under which they have worked in the EU.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, especially with Scotland making independence noises again, less than two years after a failed independence plebiscite.

• The Insider’s Health Watch column also reports on some Brexit related influences!
• Coincidentally the ever-interesting BMON daily had a popular piece on the possible effects of the Brexit decision on the internet – specifically the use of cookies –  The Future for EU and UK Laws on Cookies after ‘Brexit’ (3/7/2016)

*The Automation INSIDER is an independent monthly e-mail newsletter and editorial report on the continuing evolution, development and convergence of industrial automation, instrumentation and process control technologies worldwide for automation and process control system users, designers, installers and suppliers. It is compiled by Walt Boyes.