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Curbing the Measurement Drift Inherent in Radiometric Technology – Berthold Technologies

Radiation Source. Image courtesy of Berthold TechnologiesBerthold Technologies is not a “big box” instrument company, instead they are experts in radiometric measurements specializing in solutions for Density, Point Level, Continuous Level, and Multiphase/Density Profile. It is all they do. This expertise is reflected in their product performance. Where other technologies must be constantly recalibrated or replaced due to corrosion or process build up, Berthold’s products provide a more accurate and reliable measurement without intrusion into the process and are not affected by volatile or caustic processes. In addition to increased sensitivity, their detectors also feature patented technology that distinguishes them from all competitors. All the detectors feature cosmic ray technology which curbs temperature drift to ≤0.002%/°C, and XIP (X-Ray Interference Protection, which automatically detects interference and protects your control system from false level fluctuations.

Berthold’s signature temperature stability was recently instrumental in solving a problem for a top-tier oil & gas company in Louisiana. Berthold Technology USA was approached by a Project E&I Engineer at the company with a complaint about their existing radiometric measurement systems (supplied by a competitor). The measurement was on a critical process, so two redundant radiometric systems were being used. After an initial calibration, the redundant systems would start drifting apart, making the redundant systems useless. Which one was to be believed? To have any hope of agreement between the two systems, plant personnel were having to perform frequent calibrations on the equipment.

After a thorough discussion with the customer about the application, Berthold’s engineers speculate that the systems were drifting because of changing ambient temperatures around the radiation detectors. The detectors were in an outdoor environment where changing process temperature has a pronounced effect on ambient temperature at the detector. Individual photomultiplier  tubes used in most radiometric measuring systems can each have a unique temperature drift characteristics, making it difficult to compensate for this temperature drift effect. Only Berthold’s patented cosmic-ray method of compensation alleviates this problem with certainty. The customer was offered two Berthold radiometric detector systems for a trial, using the existing competitor’s Cesium-137 radiation source. Because of the customer’s history with radiometric measurements, he was skeptical and asked for a third system to create a triple-redundant measurement on the same application (one radiation source, three detectors). The terms of the trial stated that Berthold guaranteed all three measurements would agree within 0.3% of Span Error.

The customer collected data over a lengthy trial period, and the worst error that was seen among any of the three systems was 0.08%. The average error over the entire trial period was 0.05% of Span Error. The customer replaced the remainder of the competitors’ units with Berthold detectors, and has since been very pleased with the reduction in “down-time” due to high reliability, and with the savings that result from no longer having to frequently recalibrate detectors.

Berthold Technologies will be exhibiting at RefComm® Galveston 2018 to strengthen relationships with the people behind refinery success. At their booth, they will be demonstrating the LB490 TowerSens, the go-to device for continuous level measurements with very large measuring ranges such as on coke drums. They will also be showcasing a demo of their solution to Multi-Phase Level Measurement, aka Density Profile, which determines the location of different phases inside sand separators, oil separators, and free water knock-out drums.

During RefComm Galveston 2018, you will meet Hunter Large and Jan Sielk. Hunter Large, Berthold Technologies USAHunter, an avid mountain biker, is one of Berthold’s Regional Sales Managers. He has been with Berthold Technologies for three years, working to customize solutions to customer needs. Dr. Jan Sielk, Berthold TechnologiesDr. Jan Sielk joined Berthold Technologies in Germany in 2011 after earning his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry.   He started as a Product Manager for radiometric gauges and took over the Product Management and Marketing department in 2015. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and playing badminton on a local team.

Examples of refinery applications where Berthold excels:

Need to reach someone at Berthold before RefComm? Hunter Large is available at or (865)483-1488.Berthold Technologies

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Posted by: Becky Peterson

Becky is the Program/Website Content Coordinator and Registrar for RefComm. She enjoys travel, yoga, and high quality chocolate. (hint - hint)

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