Bullet Sensors & Transducers e-Digest, Vol. 101, Issue 2, February 2009: Product News

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High Pressure and Chemically Resistant LVDTs Enhance Performance of Extensometers Used to Monitor Structural Integrity of Offshore Platforms


Pennsauken, NJ - To ensure the ongoing stability of offshore drilling platforms, the structural integrity of production risers, catenary risers, tendons and platform legs and braces are constantly monitored. Macro Sensors, specialists in the manufacture of LVDT-based linear position sensors and gaging probes, designed a pressure-balanced, oil-filled and double bellows-sealed LVDT assembly to enhance the reliability of multiple redundant LVDT-based extensometers mounted longitudinally around the circumference of the structural member to monitor structural integrity.


The LVDTs enabled measurement of the extension of the structural members to a fraction of a microstrain. For the huge loads on oil platforms, total movement being measured is typically less than 2 mm. Because required measurement must be obtained in seawater depths down to 7500 ft., with external pressure of approximately 3800 psi and where service life requirements are a minimum of 20 years, Macro Sensors designed its LVDT assembly from 316 SS and Inconel 625 for pressure and corrosion resistance. These materials enhance the high-reliability required of this instrument so that it will continue to operate for at least 10 years, even if the device is fully exposed to sea water.


Macro Sensors’ LVDTs also resolved the problem of getting a useful signal back to the surface, even in great water depths, for monitoring, recording, and controlling thrusters and ballast transfer pumps. The extensometer housing can be outfitted with a variety of mechanical terminations to facilitate connection to the structural members.


To minimize the number of pressure-sealed connections, a 4-20 mA loop-powered I/O was utilized, which the customer converted to a RS485 digital signal for transmission to the surface. The two-wire I/O also minimized any noise going to the digital converter that was contained in a high-pressure sealed bottle located nearby.


A major advantage of choosing an LVDT for this task is its extraordinary repeatability, regardless of offsets due to pressure and/or temperature. Offsets can be easily corrected in the data acquisition system on the platform above.


The LVDT extensometers performed favorably compared to results obtained from lower reliability alternative technologies such as resistance strain gages bonded to the same structural members.





Macro Sensors

U.S. Route 130 North,

Bldg. 22, Pennsauken, NJ 08110-1541

Tel: 856-662-8000, fax: 856-317-1005

E-mail: joev@macrosensors.com

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