Wireless level gauging solution for refinery

03 January 2012

The state-owned Tüpras refinery in Izmir, Turkey, has placed an order with Emerson Process Management for a tank gauging system that includes 85 wireless TankRadar Rex radar level gauges.

The order follows extensive testing of 21 additional devices in the same application. The gauging system needs to be able to provide accurate, reliable level measurements on some of the refinery’s most critical oil-movement tanks.

The Izmir facility has a refining capacity of 11 million tons/year and storage capacity of 1.9 million cubic metres in 164 tanks – including 44 lube-oil storage tanks that were already being monitored using Emerson’s wired TankRadar Rex level gauges. On other tanks however, the existing gauging system were found to sometimes encounter communication problems and gave incorrect readings because of damage to cables during excavations in the field. In addition, support personnel were not always available when needed.

Tüpraş first considered replacing the trouble-prone older system with additional wired TankRadar Rex level gauges, which had proven to be reliable, accurate and almost maintenance-free since they were installed in 2007. Because the tanks are spread over a large area and existing cabling and junction boxes were not up to standard, the high cabling and installation costs of this approach made wireless technology more appealing.

Ali Erener, project chief engineer at Tüpraş Izmir, explains further: “Ground conditions make excavation for new cable runs difficult, but with Emerson’s Smart Wireless solution we can minimise costs for cabling, cable trenches, conduits, and cable trays. Going wireless also gives us the flexibility to add more devices in the future – not only for level and temperature measurements, but also for tank water control and nitrogen pressure control at our blanketing tanks, which are far from the control room, as well as other applications.”

Mustafa Atalay, operations superintendent at the plant for more than 34 years, takes up the story: “Because operations personnel will use the gauging system in their daily work, we required it to be user-friendly. It is also important to have a good relationship with the supplier to get the most out of the system.”

The IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) field network at the Izmir refinery will have a node for each tank, including a TankRadar Rex radar level gauge installed with an antenna unit, a Smart Wireless THUM Adapter, and a multiple spot temperature sensor to enable accurate volume calculations.

Temperature and level data will be sent wirelessly to a Smart Wireless gateway, which serves as the network manager and provides an interface to the refinery’s TankMaster inventory software or control system. The TankMaster software has also been upgraded to include batch calculation for product transfers.

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