Developing a Biogas Measurement Instrument for Extreme Conditions
At Vaisala we excel at taking on measurement challenges that no one else has been able to overcome. Doing so takes plenty of attention to detail when it comes to safety, a solid set of internal processes, and a fantastic team of knowledgeable and enthusiastic experts. One of our latest projects was to develop a biogas measurement instrument that could withstand the extreme conditions of biogas production.
So how did our development team make sure that the solution they came up with measures reliably in extreme conditions while also bringing value for our customers in other ways? The starting point was the requirements of the Ex standards, which meant that rigorous testing in real operating conditions was essential; once the MGP261 made it through our own tough testing processes unscathed, we asked some of our customers to test its performance in their environments too.
Jani Pakarinen, one of Vaisala’s scientists, felt that the development phase for the new biogas instrument was challenging, but inspiring:
For one thing, a biogas production facility is an explosive environment and requires Ex certification. Furthermore, as our customers can install the instrument directly into the biogas pipeline, we are dealing with high temperatures and corrosive substances like hydrogen sulfide (H2S) at concentrations of up to 10,000 ppm. These presented some interesting challenges in the development phase.
The development team tested the robustness of the instrument for several months in audited in-house and third-party testing stations to ensure that it would be safe for customers to use and could tolerate corrosive environments and high humidity, heat, and process gas flows. The team at Vaisala was able to call on decades of experience in developing robust and reliable equipment for weather-related measurements to help them in the development process.
Emma Mikkola, Senior Hardware Test Engineer at Vaisala, feels that the requirements that Ex certification brings were important in guiding the testing team’s work:
Choosing the right materials is critical, as is ensuring gas tightness. All this requires several in-house tests in order to prepare for the external testing needed to fulfill the Ex certification requirements. Temperature cycling, vibration testing, and IP classification-related testing are just some of the tests the team had to deal with during the development process.
Achieving the goals during the development process required not only testing, but, according to Emma, careful planning of the time available and preparing for different scenarios too. This demanding product development process would not have been possible without the ability to maintain a great team spirit and an innovative mindset for the duration of the project.
Learn more about the product at www.vaisala.com/MGP261.
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