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VEGA non-contact radar level measurement

02 April 2009

Any chemical dosing system can be hazardous, but in a food manufacturing facility safety implications for handling and storage, can be exceptionally important.

In a dosing system, there are often two containers kept in a protective outer enclosure. One container is used as ‘supply’ and the other is ‘standby’, which are switched over and replaced as they go empty. Monitoring the level inside the containers is paramount, so that a change over can be anticipated, to avoid running out of product.

The difficulty lies in that some chemicals are hazardous, corrosive or toxic and so opening the containers and checking the level manually is far from ideal. Any level probes requiring insertion into the vessels would have to be handled during change over, which is also hazardous, due to potential accidental contact.

Using non-contact radars with microwave technology enables the devices to be mounted well above the enclosure, yet still measure the level of the containers inside. That is because the microwave signals will pass through the plastic outer containers, yet reflect off the more conductive chemical liquids inside. This keeps the chemicals well out of contact with operators, as well as providing advance warning for replenishing.

The radar antenna generates millions of very short 1 nano second microwave pulses every second. Each pulse is transmitted to and reflected from a product surface. The elapsed time period between transmission and reception of the signal at the speed of light is measured and calculated as a distance.

This continuous stream of pulses gives real time level information which is updated and evaluated many times a second. Microwaves are unaffected by temperature, pressure, air movement and virtually all vapours or gases and they can pass through non-conductive materials.

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