Advantages of Micro Motion Fork Density Meter for Improving Sand Separator Functionality

by | Feb 25, 2016 | Flow, Measurement Instrumentation


In processing operations, liquid separators collect sand in a lower chamber, filtering out sediment from the oil or gas. Typically, sand accumulates slowly over time, and is eventually emptied from the bottom chamber. But problems can arise if excessive sand clogs the mechanism of the separator, at which time production must be deferred and operations cease for extensive cleaning and repair. This leads to expensive and time-consuming shutdowns. This blocking can also damage devices downstream of the separator, such as pumps, valves, and flowmeters, so awareness is important.

The Micro Motion Fork Density Meter (FDM) technology offers an alternative to delayed discovery and problematic repairs, able to notify operators early on if sand is accumulating in the separator and send a message well before any issues can occur. By proactively detecting when sand has reached a certain level, FDM reduces the potential issues in the field and keeps the separator technology focused on filtering the liquid from the sand.

How It Works
An FDM installed into the lower chamber of the separator with the tines placed to provide a low level indication of sand accumulation. As the tines fully cover with sand, an alarm is triggered and a message is sent to the operator. This communication is available via digital Modbus (RS45) or Discrete Output communication protocols, also available with the meter. Density changes can be monitored using the 4-20mA signal.

In-line de-sanding is key to ensuring uninterrupted oil production. With visibility into sand accumulation, you can schedule cleaning and maintenance as needed—not as an unexpected emergency.

There are several comprehensive advantages to implementing Emerson’s Micro Motion Fork Density Meter, as well:

• Safer Environment
Nucleonic technology has been used to improve separator operations for years. But this method is dangerous, complex, requires significant maintenance, faces complicating local laws, and has a high cost of ownership. FDM removes the risk to your team from handling and working around a radioactive source, resulting in a better work environment with far less risk and recurring cost.

• Simplified Regulations
Many sophisticated processes and technologies—such as nucleonic devices—require extensive training, leak tests, and safety procedure focus to defend against the hazardous status of the devices. Emerson’s Micro Motion technology reduces risks and allows for relaxed regulations and protocol, given its non-hazardous nature.

• Greater Productivity
Without reliable insight into the separator operations, your entire processing operations could face shutdowns without notice or time for preparation. Avoid the downtime, which can be costly, through deferred production, decreased employee efficiency, and urgent maintenance. Instead, increase separator uptime with proactive maintenance of separators with FDM.

• Smoother Operations
FDM includes an analog and digital communications interface which can simplify integrated data systems. It is user friendly with Micro Motion ProLink® III software, and the meter can be configured using the display or HART wireless solutions. Easily accessible technology couples with decreased maintenance interventions for overall smoother operations.

For years, major oil and gas customers and providers of oil service equipment have asked for a reliable and safe solution to replace nucleonic technology. Now, Micro Motion has the answer, with our Fork Density Meter that can replace the costly, risky nucleonic device. Identify sand build-up before it has the chance to make itself known, and utilize the problem-free technology in your sand separators.

Click here for the full oil and gas case study.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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