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A Vegapuls radar and a Vegaswing tuning fork from VEGA are aiding the decommissioning of nuclear sites across the UK by measuring the level of water in approved transport flasks used when taking radioactive materials to storage and reprocessing facilities.

Radioactive materials are placed inside the flasks, which are then filled with water in order to protect the contents during transportation. The flask has to be filled to the top but without overspilling so as to avoid the need for a clean-up in the hazardous loading area. As the measuring range at the top of the flask is just 0–180mm, accurate measurement is essential.

VEGA worked with the client to produce two radar devices: Vegapuls and Vegaswing. Vegapuls is an Emphasis-approved non-contact (or through-air) radar and is being used for continuous level measurement. The Vegaswing fail-safe vibrating tuning fork is a ‘simple device’ (no microprocessors) that has been supplied for the high-level switch.

Both devices are mounted on a pivoting rig that can be swung out prior to filling for level monitoring and swung back when the flask is being lifted in and out.

The company said that Vegaswing provides additional security for low-demand applications where its operational readiness can be tested periodically, in order to ensure that a process is properly protected.

Key information

Vegapuls

  • Vegapuls was originally assessed by Exida for SIL applications as well as by Sellafield as part of the Emphasis project to satisfy the NII
  • It is deemed acceptable for use in suitable SIL1 applications within the UK nuclear industry
  • The radar electronics housing — including the microwave generator — is mounted away from the container and hazardous area, which avoids electronics being exposed to radiation
  • Microwave pulses transmit to, and reflect back from, the surface of the product
  • Cone antenna is used for transmitting and receiving
  • Pulsed radar with Echofox signal processing ensures that echoes are discrete in time
  • Echofox software can be easily set up to measure a specific measuring range beyond the end of the cone antenna

Vegaswing

  • Vegaswing has a level switch point that is millimetre repeatable
  • Using an ‘active element’ causes the switch to go into fail-safe mode in the event of power loss, damage, build-up or corrosion
  • When it touches liquid, the vibrating tuning fork is damped and gives a switch output — as a result, it can detect almost any type of liquid without the need for floats or linkages
  • It does not require ‘tuning with product level’ for setup
  • Its bent tube design is designed to work with the filling arm and mount alongside the radar
  • Tuning forks are mounted in a protective cage to avoid damage during the manoeuvring and filling of the rig and flask
  • Vegaswing conforms to IEC 61508/11: SIL 2
  • Remote self-test option can be used to check operational readiness

VEGA Level measurement, Level switches and Pressure Transmitters – world leading manufacturer of control and switching instrumentation and measurement solutions for Liquids, Solids and Gases for storage, processing and control of products.

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