Emerson sensors help precious metals refiner monitor wastewater

Sept. 21, 2009
IRVINE, CA, Sept. 21, 2009 -- Emerson Process Management pH sensors have been implemented by Umicore Precious Metals Refining (UPMR), to monitor wastewater at its Hoboken plant near Antwerp, Belgium...

• Rosemount® Analytical PERpH-X® sensors extend operational life from three days to three months in challenging wastewater monitoring application

IRVINE, CA, Sept. 21, 2009 -- Emerson Process Management pH sensors have been implemented by Umicore Precious Metals Refining (UPMR), to monitor wastewater at its Hoboken plant near Antwerp, Belgium. Emerson's Rosemount® Analytical PERpH-X 3400HTVP high performance pH sensor, together with the Model 1056 liquid analyzer, are providing a highly accurate and reliable solution that enables the company to meet environmental regulations related to the pH of water being discharged.

Emerson’s Rosemount Analytical PERpH-X 3400HTVP high performance pH sensor and Model 1056 liquid analyzer at Umicore, Belgium.Umicore Precious Metals Refining recycles and refines precious metals and other non-ferrous metals from a wide range of complex industrial intermediate materials. This includes precious metal bearing scrap from applications such as electronic, photographic and catalytic processes.

Umicore was experiencing problems with the existing equipment used to measure the pH levels of its wastewater produced during the recycling process. The wastewater contains traces of sulphuric acid and chlorides and metal compounds, which fouled the glass and attacked the reference electrode in the pH sensor, resulting in incorrect measurements.

Sensors were typically lasting only two or three days in these harsh operating conditions and the costs associated with purchasing, installing and calibrating replacement units were significant. It was also necessary to revert to manual checks during the downtime whilst sensors were replaced. Whereas the pH sensor would be continuously monitoring the water, the manual checks were only carried out every two hours - this meant that operators were much slower to react to any out of range measurements. This could result in lost revenue from precious metals which should have been recovered and added costs due to the need for water to be reprocessed.

Umicore had tried alternative pH sensors from many different suppliers but each produced similar results. Following a discussion with Emerson engineers, Umicore asked for a demonstration of the Rosemount Analytical PERpH-X 3400HTVP high performance pH sensor. This was supplied with a poisoning resistance kit, which is specifically designed to protect sensors in challenging poisoning applications.

"The Emerson demonstration was impressive," said Randy Verbeeck, Maintenance & Service Engineer, Umicore. "The PERpH-X sensor was combined with a Model 1056 liquid analyzer which was very easy to use. Following calibration, the sensor has been working continuously for over five weeks now without a problem, and it is expected to have a life of between two and three months."

The PERpH-X 3400HTVP high performance pH sensor features advanced technologies for superior performance in the most aggressive fouling applications. Most pH measurements fail due to fouled or poisoned electrolytes and clogged reference junctions. The PERpH-X sensor family features an enhanced double junction electrode that excels in harsh applications, and the specially designed porous Teflon® liquid junction has a large surface area to maintain a steady reference signal in dirty and fouling applications.

Custom solution kits further optimize the performance of the PERpH-X sensors by protecting the porous Teflon reference from coating and the electrolyte from fouling. These are available to address: high-temperatures; bio-film-resistance; poisoning-resistance; oil-resistance; scaling-resistance and metals-resistance. Each kit contains a treated porous Teflon reference junction and a specially formulated electrolyte to extend the life of the reference electrode in its targeted application.

The outer reference electrolyte can be recharged using a gel-filled syringe supplied in the various solution kits. Replacing a clogged junction or recharging the electrolyte will rejuvenate most failed sensors. Proper preventative maintenance can dramatically extend the life of the sensor by minimising the depletion or poisoning of the primary reference.

"Emerson's pH sensors have been installed for over five weeks," added Ludo De Vogelaer, Maintenance & Service Engineer, Umicore. "During this time we haven't needed to refill the sensor's electrolyte, further reducing maintenance requirements and costs."

Following the success of this installation, a further PERpH-X sensor has been added to the secondary section of the wastewater treatment at the plant and Umicore is also considering using a PerpH-X sensor for a difficult application at its Heusden-Zolder plant.

About Umicore
Umicore is a materials technology group. Its activities are centered on four business areas: Advanced Materials, Precious Metals Products and Catalysts, Precious Metals Services and Zinc Specialties. Each business area is divided into market-focused business units, be it in products that are essential to everyday life or those at the cutting edge of new technological developments.

The Group has industrial operations on all continents and serves a global customer base; it generated a turnover of € 9.2 billion (€ 2.1 billion excluding metal) in 2008 and currently employs some 15,500 people. For more information, visit www.umicore.com

About Emerson Process Management
Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com), an Emerson business, is a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing and distribution in the chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment, mining and metals, food and beverage, life sciences and other industries. The company combines superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management and maintenance services. Its brands include PlantWeb®, Syncade™, DeltaV™, Fisher®, Micro Motion®, Rosemount®, Daniel®, Ovation®, and AMS® Suite.

About Emerson
Emerson, based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to create innovative solutions for customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2008 were $24.8 billion and Emerson is ranked 94th on the Fortune 500 list of America's largest companies. For more information, visit www.Emerson.com