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A Retrofit Wireless Sensor System for Industrial Plants

Background:

In safety-critical industrial facilities such as oil and gas refineries, chemical processing and power generation plants, the requirements on the reliability of critical sensors are extremely high. Such sensors are typically wired and are used for emergency shutdown decision-making, process control or monitoring. Since these sensors usually work in harsh industrial environments, faults such as bias, drifts, precision degradation or complete failure could occur. Such faults may lead to unplanned shutdowns, which could cost up to $1 million per day in some cases. Even more serious is the risk for accidents, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure the measurements of the sensors are precise, accurate and reliable. Deploying wireless sensors to validate these measurements will significantly enhance the reliability of the sensors and act as second line of defense as part of a risk mitigation strategy.

Description of the Invention:

Researchers at Western University have developed a minimally-intrusive, low-cost and easy to install system to monitor and validate existing critical wired sensors. Additional sensors are installed and their measurements are wirelessly transmitted to a computer workstation using very low-power and highly-reliable transmitters. The workstation also obtains the measurements from the existing wired sensors. Through data analysis of both sets of reported data, the system automatically identifies potentially faulty sensors and alerts the appropriate personnel. As a result, the reliability of the sensors is enhanced and plant safety, availability and operational costs can be improved significantly.

Potential Advantages:

• Minimal intrusion to existing industrial plant systems
• Very low-power wireless signal transmission which does not interfere with other electronic equipment
• Inexpensive and easy installation
• Automatic detection of faulty sensors and can act as a robust PM system
• Improved diversity in monitoring critical plant variables variables

Potential Applications:

• Oil and gas
• Chemical processing
• Power generation
• Manufacturing
• Automotive

Patent Status:

• US patent issued
• Canadian patent received notice of allowance.

Patent Information:

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