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Estimation of the Filling Distribution and Height Levels Inside an Insulated Pressure Vessel by Guided Elastic Wave Attenuation Tomography

: Neubeck, Robert; Stephan, Mareike; Gaul, Tobias; Weihnacht, Bianca; Schubert, Lars; Bindingsbø, Arne Ulrik; Østvik, Jan-Magnus

Fulltext ()

Sensors. Online journal 21 (2021), No.1, Art. 179, 25 pp.
ISSN: 1424-8220
ISSN: 1424-8239
ISSN: 1424-3210
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
guided elastic waves; ultrasonic guided waves; high pressure separator vessel; filling distribution; height level detection; multi-interface measurement; attenuation tomography

The operation efficiency and safety of pressure vessels in the oil and gas industry profits from an accurate knowledge about the inner filling distribution. But an accurate and reliable estimation of the multi-phase height levels in such objects is a challenging task, especially when considering the high demands in practicability, robustness in harsh environments and safety regulations. Most common systems rely on impractical instrumentation, lack the ability to measure solid phases or require additional safety precautions due to their working principle. In this work, another possibility to determine height levels by attenuation tomography with guided elastic waves is proposed. The method uses a complete instrumentation on the outer vessel shell and is based on the energy conversion rates along the travel path of the guided waves. Noisy data and multiple measurements from sparsely distributed sensor networks are translated into filling levels with accuracies in the centimetre range by solving an restricted optimization problem. It was possible to simultaneously determine sand-, water-, oil-phases on a mock-up scale experiment, even for artificially created sand slopes. The accuracy was validated by artificial benchmarking for a horizontal vessel, giving references for constructing an affordable prototype system.