Position and Level Measurement for Clean Energy

A few years ago, a new gas station opened in our neighborhood situated at the edge of town.  Some new customers started showing up with camouflage painted cars, especially early in the morning or late at night. They always seemed to be a little shy, never leaving the cars alone and sometimes, while grabbing a cup of coffee, they would even cover their cars with a tarp. It became obvious that this gas station was also used as a base for the test fleet of some major car manufacturer, and even after years, it is still exciting to get a glimpse of a new prototype. Working for the international Balluff energy team, it was even more exciting to see that a new hydrogen fuel dispenser had been installed at this gas station a few months ago.

Hydrogen seems to be one of the promising possibilities to store surplus energy from wind or solar power and to realize climate friendly mobility. But the processing and transportation of hydrogen poses new challenges for the equipment with regard to pressure, temperature and material properties.

One of the  possibilities for position and level measurement in such a harsh environment is magnetostrictive measurement systems.

This type of transducer comprises current position information transferred via magnetic fields contactless through the housing wall to the internal sensor element. The operation principle enables the installation in hermetically sealed rod/housing against the process medium.

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Another point to note is the presence of a possibly hazardous atmosphere that can be ignited by electric sparks or hot surfaces. Therefore the measurement systems installed need to be designed in accordance with applying explosion protection regulations.

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Considering the above mentioned framework conditions, specific part testing and verification is necessary within the development process as well as in series production. In addition the necessary approvals and certificates have to be provided on an international scale.

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For more information about the future market of Clean Energy, the measurement systems in use and the cooperation during the R&D process, visit the full report from Linde AG Austria (AUTlook 4/2017).

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