Elk Grove Village, IL —Gas prices getting you down? The good news is that Exxon, BP, Clark, and other major oil refineries are finding new ways to squeeze more petroleum products out of a barrel of crude oil.
"Most refineries use our hydro-electric actuators for catalytic crackers, the processing equipment used for deriving gasoline and other products from oil," says Duncan Thompson, a mechanical engineer at MEA, Inc. The actuators open and close what are typically slide valves that regulate pressure in the processes, an operation previously performed by hand. "The better the hydro-electric actuators manage the equipment and the processes, the more gas they get from the oil."
The actuators rely on Micropulse magnetostrictive positioning sensors from Balluff, Inc. (Florence, KY) for positioning accuracy within several thousandths of an inch. The Micropulse sensor has hysteresis of 0.0001 inch, a resolution of 0.2µm, and linearity of ±2%. It is CE and FM approved. It also has patented auto-tuning electronics that reduce maintenance and repair costs with fewer parts.
The explosion-proof sensors are available with floats specially designed for liquid level applications in hazardous areas. Stroke lengths to 142 inches are available with the Micropulse sensors. They operate on 24V dc and are available with standard analog and digital outputs. The temperature range for the sensors is -40 to 185F.
"We've had no failures with the sensors," says Thompson. That's good news for oil refineries, but doesn't necessarily mean we can expect to see gas prices fall any time soon. That may be the bad news for the rest of us.
For more information about sensors from Balluff: Enter 539