Introducing the Model R86, A New Non-Contact Radar Level Transmitter From Magnetrol®

Non-contact radar transmitters are used in a variety of industries, from oil and gas to water and wastewater to chemical manufacturing. The reliability, safety and ease of use of a non-contact radar level transmitter makes it a natural choice for many difficult process conditions.

At Magnetrol®, we are taking these transmitters to the next level with our latest innovation.

MAGNETROL is introducing the Pulsar® Model R86, our first industrial, 26 GHz pulse burst non-contact radar transmitter. Based on a platform developed for the Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter, this new PULSAR transmitter is the product of over 13 years of MAGNETROL radar design and application experience. The design and performance improvements offered by the higher frequency signal makes this transmitter the first choice for many applications.

non-contact radar level transmitter

The Pulsar® Model R86 radar transmitter.

The Model R86 offers many features and benefits, including:

  • Improved performance. The 26 GHz radar signal has a smaller wavelength, allowing for smaller antennas and improved resolution.
  • Circular polarization. With circular polarization, there’s no need to adjust the antenna to avoid false targets. This simplifies installation and delivers proper alignment in virtually every application.
  • Nozzle extensions to 72” (1.8 meters). The R86 can be installed into nozzles longer than 12” (300mm). This means non-standard nozzle lengths and underground vessel standpipes are never a problem.
  • Improved diagnostics. The graphic LCD display clearly communicates performance issues and displays troubleshooting tips when necessary. This helps reduce downtime.
  • SIL 2 capability. SIL 2 hardware compliance is standard. The Safe Failure Fraction (SFF) of 93.2% reflects high reliability.
  • High temperature, high pressure antennas. The antenna range of up to 750 °F (400 °C)/ 2320psi (160bar) allows installation into demanding applications and punishing conditions.

If you’re interested in learning more about the new PULSAR Model R86, and the advanced features of this non-contact radar level transmitter, visit the R86 site.

R86 transmitter

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Verifying Thermal Mass Flow Meter Calibration in the Field

When Magnetrol® sends a Thermatel® TA2 to a customer, the instrument is already pre-configured and calibrated for the specific application where it will be used. Whether the TA2 is being used to measure natural gas at an upstream oil and gas facility, nitrogen tank blanketing in a chemical plant or digester gas in a wastewater treatment plant, it arrives to the customer ready to use. However, many customers utilize these meters for regulatory purposes or for energy management projects, and want to verify reliability and performance in the field, most often on an annual basis. If the instrument has to be sent back to the manufacturer, recalibrations can cost tens of thousands of dollars and cause process downtime or loss of measurement. To meet these needs, MAGNETROL has developed a procedure to verify thermal mass flow meter calibration at the customer site with no external equipment necessary to purchase.

Verifying TA2 Calibration

In order to verify calibration, low flow and high flow conditions are simulated. This establishes baseline values that can be used for comparison at a later date. These baseline values are stored in the TA2 and located in the calibration certificate. All verification procedures should be conducted at room temperature.

A Thermatel® TA2 thermal mass flow meter

Low Flow Validation

To test low flow validation, the heater power is set and a temperature difference between the resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) is measured. In order to do this, first wrap the sensor tips of the TA2 to prevent air flow. On the TA2 display, select the diagnostic section and enter the Low Cal validate option. Once you enter, the test begins to run. In a short time, the temperature difference will stabilize and two temperatures will show on the display. One of the two is the original temperature difference between the sensors when the TA2 left the factory. The other is the new temperature difference that has just been measured. If the values are within 1.5 °C, the device is still within calibration. Some variance in temperature difference is given for variation of ambient temperatures as well as test methods. The user can store the value obtained (if it is different from the original value) and use it as the new baseline value or keep the original value that is reflected on the calibration certificate.

High Flow Validation

In order to test high flow validation, the TA2 must be placed vertically in a water bath. An easy way to do this is to hold the TA2 in place with a test stand and let the water settle. Select High Cal validate from the diagnostics section, just as you did with Low Cal validate for the low flow test. The heater power is once again set and the temperature difference is measured. These steps can be completed exactly as they were with the low flow validation to verify thermal mass flow meter calibration.

Both the low flow and high flow tests verify if the RTDs still measure the same amount of heat transfer in low and high flow conditions covering the entire calibration curve. Since thermal mass flow measurement is based on heat transfer, this is a true calibration test. All the features needed to test your TA2 are included at no extra charge and require no special equipment.

More Information 

For more information on the TA2 or to watch a video that demonstrates thermal mass flow meter calibration, visit

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Level Measurement Solutions for Natural Gas Separators

Natural gas separators remove solid particles and liquids from a continuous gas stream supply. Dust, dirt, sand and pipe scale as well as water, natural gas liquids and light hydrocarbons can be removed. Removing these substances from the natural gas supply creates a more refined product and protects downstream process equipment from malfunctioning.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the power industry, detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the power generation process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

natural gas separators

Natural gas separators in the field.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

In a typical system, an inlet separator allows particles and liquids to settle out and the gas to rise. The gas collects at the top of the separator where it is removed by means of a gas compressor. The collected particles and liquids are then dumped into a water tank. The amount of water that is drawn off needs to be precisely modulated. If the level rises too high, the liquid will enter the compressor inlet. Liquid level measurement instrumentation can monitor the water level and prevent it from entering the inlet.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced level instrumentation solutions for natural gas separators:

  • For point level measurement
    Model B35 external cage float-actuated switch, ASME B31.1 construction
  • For continuous level measurement
    Eclipse® Model 706 or Horizon® Model 704 guided wave radar transmitters; E3 Modulevel® displacer transmitter
  • For visual indication
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters

More Information
For more information on level measurement solutions for natural gas separators and other power industry applications, download the power industry brochure.

power generation

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WWTP Waste-to-Gas Initiative Enabled by Advanced Level and Flow Technology

Approximately three billion gallons of waste greases are produced by restaurants and institutions every year in the U.S., according to the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste. These massive amounts of fats, oils, and greases (FOGs) have traditionally ended up in landfills or have been poured down drains to coat and clog sewers and contaminate the environment. Disposing of grease has become increasingly more challenging, as many landfills no longer accept it. Those that do often levy a hefty dumping surcharge. In response to this problem, many wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are using a creative tactic: transforming waste to gas that can fuel heating, dehumidification and power generation units.


An Echotel® ultrasonic transmitter from Magnetrol® measures grease level through a fog of vapor at the WWTP grease receiving station. Grease is being fed from a tanker through the green hose.

In fact, a sanitary district in Northeastern Illinois, U.S. has undertaken just such a green initiative and is turning common forms of waste grease into a biofuel that boosts self-sufficiency for the plant’s heat and electricity needs. Methane gas captured for process heating and dehumidification has already saved the plant over $115,000 in natural gas costs annually. An upgrade to be completed this year will boost digester methane production and use the gas to generate electricity to further save the plant an estimated $100,000 per year.

Conversion to Biogas

Through a process called co-digestion, the sanitary district is increasing its methane gas production in five anaerobic digesters by using waste grease collected from regional waste haulers and offloaded at their facility’s grease receiving station. Fed into digester feed water, the grease is converted into biogas for fueling generators to make electricity. Anaerobic digestion naturally produces methane gas as it breaks down organic matter, but when waste grease is added it not only accelerates the digestion process but produces more methane of a higher quality. Adding grease wastewater to the anaerobic digestion process typically increases methane gas concentration and raises the average BTU value of the methane from 500 to approximately 625. Harvesting this high-grade methane for electric power is an innovative way to offset a facility’s power needs.

The waste-to-gas process reduces energy and maintenance costs and provides security from interruptions in the natural gas and electricity grids. Diverting FOGs into biofuel before they seep into sewers further conserves resources, since FOGs clogging municipal sewer pipes are responsible for 80 percent of the sanitary sewer overflow events in the U.S. Commercial haulers offloading grease can also create revenue for WWTPs from “tipping fees.”

Increased Efficiency

According to the Northwest Biosolids Management Association (NBMA), approximately 15,000 WWTPs operate anaerobic digesters across the United States, but only one-third put their biogas to work—and even fewer use it to produce electricity. That puts this sanitary district ahead of the curve. Although the plant’s original digesters were performing well and producing energy for process heating, management wanted still more efficiency from the treatment system. With the average WWTP consuming more electricity than any other municipal service—sometimes as much as 30 to 40 percent of overall energy consumption—it’s not surprising that this facility has moved steadily toward increasing self-sufficiency in energy generation.

Because of its long-standing relationship with the sanitary district, Magnetrol® was called in to address the level and flow needs for the new waste-to-gas system. The first application to be addressed was the grease receiving station at the project’s front end, a 12-ft. (3.6 m) deep in-ground cement repository where waste haulers offload their grease. The level measurement application was somewhat challenging, because warm grease dumped during colder months can create steam that the level device must cut through in order to make accurate measurements.

It was precisely for its ability to detect true level despite the compromised atmosphere that the non-contact Echotel® Model 355 ultrasonic level transmitter was selected for the grease receiving station. Each of the five floating roof digesters also utilizes a pair of Model 355 ultrasonic transmitters. At the back end of this multi-million dollar project, three Thermatel® TA2 thermal mass flow meters monitor methane gas flow from the digesters. Initially, plant personnel did not know how much methane would be produced with any degree of certainty. Knowing the exact amount of methane was necessary in order to select the generator with the right capacity for the job. The TA2 flow meters compiled the required data and the generator was specified. As a result of the waste-to-gas initiative, the sanitary district anticipates the ability to generate 50 percent of its electricity from biogas.

More Information
To learn more about how MAGNETROL products can help increase efficiency for a variety of operations in water and wastewater treatment plants, visit

wastewater treatment plants

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Instrumentation Solutions for Quench Tower and Settler Level Measurement

The ethylene production process begins with unprocessed material, or feedstock. Feedstock enters the plant and goes through the ethylene furnaces, in a process known as pyrolysis. Once it is cracked into a variety of hydrocarbons and hydrogen, it immediately begins to recombine into larger molecules. To prevent these reactions and stop the recombination, the cracked vapor goes through a quench tower to cool using oil or water. The largest hydrocarbons are carried with the water into the quench settler or the quench water separation drum (QWSD). As feedstock is increased, more cooling fluids are required.

quench tower

Quench towers in an ethylene plant.

Magnetrol® has produced a brochure detailing different applications throughout the ethylene industry and discussing measurement challenges and solutions for each one. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Challenges for Quench Tower Level Measurement

Level measurement is crucial to increase the efficiency of the quench towers and settlers. The residence time in the settlers needs to be minimal to maintain composition and prevent secondary reactions (including larger chains or heavier hydrocarbons). A quench settler or QWSD that catches the hydrocarbon liquids and water from the quench tower creates an interface in the QWSD, and possibly an emulsion layer if too much caustic is added. Knowing the interface level is important in order to properly recirculate the quench water from the settler to the tower and not recirculate the hydrocarbons. When hydrocarbons are recirculated, it reduces productivity and can potentially cause fouling of equipment. If the quench water or oil is not recycled correctly from the quench settler, it can also cause fouling problems with equipment and degrade the fluid composition from the furnaces. If too much fouling occurs or the fluid composition changes for the worse in the quench tower, less ethylene is eventually produced from the feedstock. Regulating an interface level with reliable instrumentation can help keep the fluid composition at the proper level and also aid in using less caustic if quench water is used.

Level Solutions for Quench Towers and Settlers

MAGNETROL has produced level instrumentation solutions for regulating interface level in quench towers and settlers:

  • Eclipse® Model 706 Guided Wave Radar Transmitter
  • Jupiter® Model JM4 Magnetostrictive Level Transmitter

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for quench towers and settlers and other ethylene industry applications, download the ethylene industry brochure.

ethylene brochure

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The Challenges of Equipping Legacy Infrastructure for the IIoT

As household appliances like refrigerators and thermostats become wirelessly connected and controllable anywhere, there is a push to apply this advanced functionality to operational technology in process industries. This technology, sometimes known as the industrial Internet of things, or IIoT, has immense promise for helping monitor equipment and avoid issues. However, there are some obstacles preventing wider implementation of IIoT in industrial equipment, including a gap between existing systems and available technologies.

The IT/OT Gap

Operational technology, or OT, has generally not kept pace with the speedy developments that have characterized other technology in the past decade. Many plants are using instruments and other technology that is antiquated or otherwise not up-to-date. The gap between information technology (IT) and OT exists on many levels. The basic vernacular used to describe overall infrastructures is different, as is the data representation. A gap exists on the level of security as well. And, most importantly, there is a lack of deep understanding of existing device protocols and the applications that speak these protocols.IIoT

Companies in the process industries should give serious consideration to the many advantages offered by IIoT solutions. This means both companies and their vendors need to develop migration strategies. Existing legacy infrastructures and devices will in all likelihood be in place for the next decade, because they are expensive to replace and already deeply embedded in process operations. But this legacy infrastructure can start to participate in IIoT solutions and gradually transition to being fully compatible.

Two Technologies Bridging the Gap

There are a few solutions that are being developed to address this gap. MQ Telemetry Transport, or MQTT, was developed over 17 years ago to address some of the issues with communication between IT and OT. Over the last five years it has become one of the dominant IIoT message transport technologies and is used to connect with Message Oriented Middleman (MOM) infrastructures. It can be used in SCADA, DCS, and ICS infrastructures.

Another technology that is working to bridge this gap is the HART Smart Transmitter protocol, which has been around since the early 1990s. HART is still the primary protocol for most 4-20ma instruments in process control industries today. But much of the information it can provide is not being utilized—instead, it is left stranded in the field. The operational, diagnostic and asset intelligence that HART protocol provides can assist operators in better understanding their plants, and is an excellent example of how emerging technologies can be applied to existing infrastructures.

Recently, Magnetrol® co-hosted a webinar about bridging this gap between IT and OT. The webinar addressed the challenges that currently exist and discussed how technologies like HART and MQTT can help equip legacy infrastructure for the IIoT. To learn more about this important topic, you can download the webinar.


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Level Measurement Technology for Seal Pot Applications

Measuring and ensuring proper liquid levels in your seal pots protects expensive equipment and your brand. Whatever your application, high-quality liquid level instrumentation is crucial. For end-users that means accurate performance, advanced diagnostics, and no calibration necessary regardless of specific gravity changes. For seal pot manufacturers that means a variety of price and performance options, with worldwide safety approvals and simple, easy to stock configurations.

seal pot

Echotel® ultrasonic switches

Many seal pot users and manufacturers are looking to comply with the API Standard 682. The third edition of API 682 came out in September 2004 in order to combine with ISO 21049. Revision 3 specifically mentioned ultrasonic switches. API Standard 682 Revision 4 came out in May 2014. Revision 4 was the first mention of indicating transmitters, specifically hydrostatic, but it does open the standard to other technologies that meet purchaser approval if specified. This includes the substitution of switches in place of transmitters. However, if transmitters are selected, the recommendation is that they should be analog, two-wire type, and have 4-20 mA output. Operations seeking to adhere to API Standard 682, whether Revision 3 or Revision 4, should select liquid level measurement technology that meets these qualifications.

Level Instrumentation for Seal Pot Applications
Magnetrol® produces a series of level instruments to help protect your seal pot applications:

API 682 Revision 3 Compliant

  1. Echotel® 961 Ultrasonic Single Point Relay Switch
    Why Choose It: Offers the ultimate solution to reliable single point liquid level indication.
    Key Benefits:
  • No calibration or density configuration required
  • LED indication with optional window
  • Provides enhanced diagnostic information
  • Stainless steel enclosure available
  • Time delay available to avoid false level alarms
  • Suitable for Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 loops
  1. ECHOTEL 962 Ultrasonic Dual Point Relay Switch
    Why Choose It: Has two independent switches in a single instrument to achieve low level and high level indication.
    Key Benefits:
  • No calibration or density configuration required
  • Top mounted to eliminate taps and reduce costs
  • Provides enhanced diagnostic information
  • Stainless steel enclosure available
  • Time delay available to avoid false level alarms
  • Suitable for Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 loops

API 682 Revision 4 Compliant

  1. ECHOTEL 961 Current Shift Model
    Why Choose It: The most economical option for Revision 4.
    All the benefits of the 961 Relay Switch Model plus:
  • Two-wire device
  • Provides discrete mA outputs with continuous indication (8 mA is normal operation, 16 mA is level alarm)
  • Meets NAMUR NE43 recommendations (3.6 mA or 22 mA) for malfunction indication to provide 4-20 mA range
  1. ECHOTEL 962 Current Shift Model
    Why Choose It: Top-mounted option that eliminates taps.
    All the benefits of the 962 Relay Switch Model plus:
  • Two-wire device
  • Provides discrete mA outputs (8 mA is low level alarm, 12 mA is normal operating level, 16 mA is high level alarm)
  • Meets NAMUR NE43 recommendations (3.6 mA or 22 mA) for malfunction indication to provide 4-20 mA range
  1. Horizon® 704 Guided Wave Radar Transmitter
    Why Choose It: Provides all of the advantages of GWR and the most cost effective option.
    Key Benefits:
  • Most cost effective GWR
  • Reduce taps and costs
  • Single compartment housing
  • Continuous 4-20mA/HART output
  • NAMUR NE43 Compliant
  • Easy to stock configuration
  1. Eclipse® 706 Guided Wave Radar Transmitter
    Why Choose It: Leading edge level transmitter designed to provide measurement performance well beyond that of many of the more traditional technologies.
    Key Benefits:
  • Complete proactive diagnostics with automated waveform capture
  • Available with DTMs and allows for HART or Foundation Fieldbus installations
  • Accurately measures from the bottom to the top of the probe for small ranges without a dead zone or transition zone
  • Superior signal-to-noise ratio

More Information
For more information about level measurement technology for seal pot applications, and other technologies that can protect your applications, visit

ultrasonic level measurement 2

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Level Measurement Solutions for Coal Storage and Containment

Although some power plants are now fueled by renewable energy sources, coal-fired power plants are still a staple of the power industry. One important aspect of managing a coal-fired plant is ensuring safe coal storage.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the power industry, detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the power generation process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

coal storage

A coal storage facility.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

Raw coal is delivered to a coal yard in aggregate pieces of approximately 6″ that are later reduced in size by a crusher to approximately 1.5″. Enclosed storage of crushed coal is common in frigid climates and where containment of coal dust is controlled to protect populated areas. Hoppers and silos store active and reserve crushed coal prior to its pulverization into the powdered form suitable for boiler combustion.

Some severe power plant accidents in years past have been traced to coal dust ignition, and the atmospheres of contained coal storage areas are highly congested with explosive dust. For safe coal yard operation, explosion-proof, airtight level instrumentation is absolutely essential.

Level Instrumentation Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced a level instrumentation solution for safer coal storage:

  • Solitel® vibrating rod level switch, available with an extended rigid probe up to 100 inches (254 cm) or an extended flexible probe up to 65 feet (20 meters)

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for coal storage and other power generation applications, download the power generation brochure.

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Thermal Dispersion Technology Helps Utility Meet Federal Environmental and Health Regulations

Complying with governmental regulations while maintaining a high level of functioning is a challenge for plants throughout the process industries, and particularly in water and wastewater plants. Many water quality plants are using flow controls to help achieve critical operational goals. This case study shows how thermal dispersion mass flow meters can help your plant ensure compliance with stringent government regulations.

The Challenge

Instrumentation plays a pivotal role in meeting regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Ecology and the Department of Health. To ensure compliance with these types of regulations, the Lakehaven Utility District in Washington realized that it needed reliable flow meters for some of its most difficult applications—the air and gas flow lines serving its aeration basins and anaerobic digesters.

thermal dispersion

A Thermatel® TA2 thermal mass flow meter in the field.

The Solution

Thermal dispersion flow meters are well accepted in the municipal industry to provide reliable flow measurement at low flows and low pressures. That’s why the District turned to the Magnetrol® Thermatel® Model TA2 for its ease of use and ability to handle these difficult applications. The THERMATEL Model TA2 mass flow transmitter measures mass flow by detecting heat dissipation from a heated surface. The sensor contains two mass balanced elements with precision matched RTDs. The reference sensor measures the process temperature (up to +400° F [+200° C]); the second RTD measures the temperature of the heated sensor. The power to the heater is varied to maintain a constant temperature difference above the reference temperature.

There is an inherent non-linear relationship between power and mass flow. The microprocessor in the TA2 compares the power against the calibration curve and converts the power requirements to the mass flow rate. Temperature is also measured to provide temperature compensation of the mass flow over the operating range of the instrument.

Because the TA2 measures air and gas directly and has excellent low flow sensitivity, it is a smart choice for challenging applications. It can provide a high degree of accuracy that ensures compliance with stringent standards such as those the District was seeking to meet.

The Results

Adding THERMATEL Model TA2 in the aeration lines maintained a minimum flow rate to prevent the diffusers from getting plugged, while also being used in conjunction with dissolved oxygen (DO) probes to provide sufficient flow to meet the oxygen demands in the basin. On the digester gas lines, the units measured the amount of methane going to fuel the boiler to generate hot water/steam for the plant, as well as the excess methane going to flare.

More Information

For more information on thermal dispersion mass flow meters and how they can help improve the efficiency and safety of your application, visit

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Level Measurement Solutions for Chemical Condensers

Condensation is the heat transfer process that changes a gas or vapor to a liquid. It is employed in the reflux process to improve the efficiency of distillation. Condensation can also be employed for producing saturated liquid products, for sub-cooling, or to serve an environmental or vapor recovery function. Condensation is carried out in a variety of configurations. By properly monitoring chemical condensers, plants can ensure that distillation and other processes run as efficiently as possible.chemical condensers

Magnetrol® has produced a brochure detailing different applications throughout the ethylene industry and exploring measurement challenges and solutions for each one. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

In the distillation process, tower vapors are condensed prior to entering an accumulator. The condenser’s level can be used to control tower pressure where the liquid level set point serves as the manipulated variable (MV) for the pressure controller. Adjusting liquid level in chemical condensers changes the effective heat-transfer area.

Level Instrumentation Solutions

MAGNETROL offers a range of level instrumentation solutions for chemical condensers:

  • For point level measurement
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch
  • For continuous level measurement
    Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter
  • For visual indication
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters 

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for chemical condensers and other ethylene industry applications, download the ethylene industry brochure.

ethylene brochure

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