IRT Application Series: Tank Level Inspection

Using thermal imaging to see the liquids, solids and foam levels inside a tank.
The challenge
Accurate tank level gauging in the oil and gas industry is a necessity. Maintenance teams need to be able to:
  • Check on product/by-product levels
  • Determine presence of interfaces between liquids, liquids/solids and emulsions.
  • Calculate tank flow rates
  • Calculate existing volume and remaining tank capacity
  • Estimate current product value, or calculate offloading requirements for transport
Traditional methods (dip-sticking and strapping) are dangerous and inaccurate.
 The solution
Thermal imaging can be done from a safe distance, and eliminates any need for direct contact. Very small internal temperature differences between liquids, solids, foams and vapours can be visually detected on the tank exterior. Such inspections can be carried out by utilising either the FLIR ONE Pro, which attaches to a smartphone and couples with an app to calculate tank volumes. Alternatively, a FLIR E-Series can be used where inspection can only be carried out at a safe distance, or higher thermal resolution is required.
 The result
Unlike traditional inspection methods, thermal imaging allows level and volumes of products/bi-products to be safely and accurately determined. Users will be able to see uneven levels such as sludge accumulation, thereby preventing sludge being sucked into pumps, and also calculate lost tank capacity from sludge build up. This further allows planning for sludge removal during shutdown – reducing downtime, costs, and improving reliability.
The Importance of Tank Level Gauging in the Oil and Gas Industry

Tank level gauging is a necessity for various applications in the oil and gas industry. Accurate monitoring of tank levels can help maintenance teams avoid tank overflows, calculate tank flow rates, and optimize storage capacity.

Benefits of Thermal Imaging for Tank Level Gauging

Thermal imaging is an advanced technology that allows oil and gas companies to gauge tank levels without direct contact. This non-intrusive method provides several advantages:


1. Safety and Efficiency: By eliminating the need for physical contact, thermal imaging reduces the risk of accidents and improves the efficiency of the gauging process.

2. Precision in Measurement: Thermal imaging can detect small changes in temperature, which is crucial for distinguishing between liquids or solids of varying densities. This precise measurement is essential for managing materials with specific heat characteristics.

3. Early Detection of Anomalies: Thermal imaging can identify temperature anomalies that may indicate potential issues, allowing for early intervention and maintenance before problems escalate.

In conclusion, integrating thermal imaging into tank level gauging processes offers significant benefits for oil and gas operations. It enhances safety, accuracy, and overall efficiency, making it an invaluable tool for the industry.

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