Application: Steady power improves testing, enables EPA compliance

04/05/2007


control components, power

A Falcon Electric SG Series 3kVA UPS and related monitoring software ensure gas chromatographs run reliable tests without "frying" any boards.

Gas chromatography instrumentation is expensive, so it's good to keep it operating on schedule. Fluctuations or interruptions in heat disrupt the exact temperatures required for environmental testing, and a power surge can destroy onboard microprocessors. Because several hours of steady temperature and power are required during a testing run that provides results required by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Veolia Environmental Services LLC sought power monitoring software and UPS hardware to reduce downtime and ensure compliance.

Veolia conducts the tests with gas chromatography/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) instruments. For a short period of time after a test begins, the GC oven draws a very high current for the heating element. This brief power consumption presents a problem with temperature, or if the power is not clean, or the voltage is unstable (bad for the microprocessor-based on-board computer). A typical test involves 100 samples, takes 14 hours to complete, and is conducted overnight. Since the spectrometer would assume that the power failed in the event of a surge, spike or other brief power anomaly, the unit would go into stand-by mode, rendering the test run a complete loss. To combat this situation, Veolia installed a popular brand line-interactive uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

"According to the GC and GC/MS manufacturers, a UPS protecting this equipment must deliver power instantly without switchover delays. After we installed the UPS, we noticed the problems didn't go away and realized that the UPS had a switch-over time of several milliseconds, which proved too long for the spectrometer to continue its test run," explains Shafiqul Alam, technical support manager at Veolia.

"After discussing the situation with the GC manufacturer," Alam continues, "I realized that we needed a true on-line UPS, one that didn't have this switch-over." He researched specifications and selected Falcon Electric SG Series 3kVA UPS (SG3k-1T) units to power the spectrometers.

Using a unit for purchase with a trial period, Alam evaluated the unit with the supplied UPSilon 2000 software to monitor UPS activities, including load tests for various oven temperature ramps. Alam now includes the UPS for all delicate equipment, which offers online double conversion service (no switch-over), similar to a solid-state power generator providing 220 volts at 60 Hz.

Since installing Falcon's SG Series UPS with power monitoring software, Veolia has not lost one test because of power pollution or voltage fluctuations. "The monitoring software is especially useful since I have proof that a power anomaly occurred. Prior to installing the UPS, a power surge 'fried' an entire board because the power exceeded the limited tolerance of the spectrometer." With the new UPSs, no downtime has occurred, despite several power problems noted with the software. Veolia has more than 45 U.S. treatment and disposal facilities.

Veolia Environmental Services LLC (formerly Onyx Environmental Services) provides environmental services-hazardous waste management, field services, and solvent reclamation-for industrial customers. Customers use Veolia's services to ensure proper disposal of chemical waste, the byproduct of manufacturing electronics, computer recycling, blending fuel, and other toxic materials in accordance with California's stringent environmental requirements.

—Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief,
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