Biofuels: Increasing Volume Accuracy at an Ethanol Plant

The Challenge
This ethanol plant faced three different types of challenges – dust, accuracy and reliability. There were extreme amounts of dust, especially during fll rates of up to 580 tons per hour which made it extremely diffcult to track the flling and emptying processes. They had been using guided wave radar – a single point mea-surement technology – in a very large bin of uneven topography.  Using just a single measurement was not providing an adequate level of accuracy, as the level of material varied signifcantly in different areas of the bin. Also, the sensing cables on the guided wave radar were breaking, making taking measurements impossible and causing operations to shut down until the cable could be recovered from the material contents and then replaced. The SolutionThe MV model of the 3DLevelScanner was mounted on a 150’ tall, 75’ diameter, concrete silo containing whole corn. The silo is outset fll, with multiple discharge sites in a very dusty and noisy application. Using the advanced parameters of the 3D Level Manager soft-ware, the device was optimized to track during a rapid and extremely dusty flling cycle. With multiple discharge sites and empty rates of up to 150 tons per hour, the 3DLevelScanner was able to provide a far more accurate volume than the previously installed, single-point guided wave radar device. After the success of the frst unit, the customer purchased three additional units for its other large silos.

The Benefts
The 3DLevelScanner was able to meet the challenge of a dusty environment and was optimized to track during the flling and emp-tying processes. The low frequency, acoustic waves are able to penetrate the dust gener-ated during fll, unlike radar which works at a higher frequency. Using the MV model which takes multiple mea-surements within a 70° beam an-gle the inventory accuracy was improved signifcantly, enabling the plant to optimize its flling and emptying schedules and railcar traffc. The non-contact device eliminated the risk of breaking cables, preventing work stop-pages while providing plant per-sonnel inventory measurement data when it was needed.