Control Engineering's E-News for Process Instrumentation - June 2001


In this issue:

How far will you go with e-commerce? I regularly use a couple of commercial e-commerce sites to buy books, hobby supplies, and recorded music. I love the convenience, selection, and--surprising as this may seem--the service/follow-up. Admittedly, the items that I buy on line are simple to specify. My engineering days were long over by the time engineering components became available on the web. Engineering and industrial distributors have a large web presence. Many of the items they offer are commodity items and relatively simple to spec. Companies serving the controls industry also maintain comprehensive websites for specifying and ordering of control products. Many of these products, unless they are being specified as an exact replacement for an existing component, can be complicated to specify.
This is a very informal survey. How far up the 'food chain' of control products do you feel comfortable specifying/ordering on line? Let me know. .
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The Internet doing what it does best In order to provide a forum for engineers, researchers, and members of academia to present and discuss evolving designs and applications of a wide variety of sensors, the International Frequency Sensor Association (IFSA) maintains the Sensors Web Portal. The website is devoted to presenting information on sensors, transducers, and sensor instrumentation. According to IFSA's vice president, Dr. Sergey Y.Yurish, 'The site is a snapshot of what is happening now in the field of sensors.' IFSA membership is open to all companies, organizations, and individuals world-wide, that are able to contribute expertise in sensor relevant areas. IFSA's homepage is located at
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Rising gas prices got you down, bunky, revisited Angleton, Tex. - Summer is here and the time is right for raising gasoline prices. This year will be a mirror image of the last except that the 'per gallon' price is expected by many to get into the $3 range. The same old reasons for the increases are still with us. Inadequate supply, inadequate refinery capacity, crumbling delivery infrastructure, an overabundance of gas hungry vehicles, and the existence of EPA nonattainment zones--large metropolitan areas that require reformulated gasoline to meet clean air standards.
New technologies are coming online to measure total sulfur in the reformulated fuels required in these areas-Chicago, my home town is in one. Thermo ONIX has introduced the Houston Atlas SOLA (Sulfur OnLine Analysis) for this purpose.The SOLA analyzer uses a low maintenance pulses UV fluorescence detector with the Houston Atlas Pyrolysis system to measure total sulfur in gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel. The device uses a software-enabled valveless, direct injection system for precise control of continuous sample introduction.
Full scale measurement ranges are from 0-10 ppm/wt to 0-500 ppm/wt, which meet both current and future measurement requirements for sulfur in fuels. The SOLA can automatically switch between two independently calibrated ranges based on the measured concentration of the stream. Automatic stream switching is also available for dual-stream applications.
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Something new has been added SIcon/01, the first Sensor for Industry Conference and Exhibition organized by the ISA--The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society and the Instrumentation and Measurement Society (IEEE), will be held November 5-7, 2001 at the Holiday Inn - O'Hare International in Rosemont, Ill. This inaugural event marks the first joint activity between the two societies. Sicon/01 has been developed to bring together professionals involved in all aspects of sensor technology. Topics to be covered will include but not be limited to transducer theory and design, multi-sensor fusion and hybridization, smart sensors and systems, innovative and unique sensors, calibration systems, and techniques for proper use (tuning).
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Chew on this one Food texture and resulting 'mouth feel' can be a very important process variable in some food manufacturing operations. To quantify the texture of foods Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (Columbia, Md.) has introduced the EZ Texture Analyzer. The analyzer is said to provide accurate and reproducible methods for evaluating texture and other physical attributes of food. It measures food hardness, elasticity, and strength plus characteristics such as masticability, smoothness, and palatability. The analyzer is available with compression and penetration jigs, fixtures, accessories, and software to accommodate a range of application requirements including evaluation of wrapping materials of packaged food items. Hey, nothing makes me madder than having to fight to open my package of 'in-flight' peanuts. Contact
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Preserving a national treasure The saga of the CSS H.L. Hunley, a Civil War submarine and the first ship capable of maneuvering completely underwater, is well known to Civil War buffs. With its discovery on Sept. 14, 1994, and subsequent recovery on August 8, 2000, the history of the tiny vessel has received widespread coverage. However, the fascinating story of the H.L. Hunley and her valiant crew has only begun to be told. After 137 years at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the cost of South Carolina, the Hunley has been raised not only to preserve the relic but also to honor the crewmen aboard the ill-fated vessel with proper burial. Additionally, during the restoration process, the circumstances that doomed the vessel on its return from its first mission will be investigated.
To study and eventually restore the submarine for display at The Charleston Museum, a major component of the process will involve drawing chlorides out of the submarine's metal to prevent corrosion and deterioration. One step of the chloride-removal process will involved immersing the Hunley in a large tank filled with electrolyte solution of water and sodium hydroxide, which will draw the chlorides out of the metal. During the critical chloride removal process must be monitored for conductivity, pH/ORP, and dissolved oxygen. 'Without this sensor data, it would be impossible for us to maintain a proper environment for the chloride removal,' said Dr. Robert Neyland, Hunley project director and underwater archaeologist from the Naval Historical Center. Rosemount Analytical Inc., Uniloc Div, ( provides the sensors and analyzers used. The Friends of the Hunley, a non-profit organization that is raising the money for the ship's recovery and conservation, can be found at
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Final control elements have a conscience too! With the passage of the Everglades Forever Act in 1994, the state of Florida made the restoration of the Everglades its number one environmental priority. The Everglades, the largest wetland and subtropical wilderness in the U.S., is endangered by phosphorous-enriched storm water run-off from agriculture and other sources, disrupting the ecosystem's native plant and animal populations. Acquisition of additional lands and construction of water treatment facilities are need to restore the Everglades ecosystem. The eight large pumps for the project were designed, supplied, and installed by Flowserve Corp. (Irving, Tex.) ( for the South Florida Water Management District. Four of the pumps move 950 ft3/sec; the remaining four move 470 ft3/sec.
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Archive The picture of Dr. Gene Grabbe, West Coast consultant to Control Engineering magazine with Groucho Marx and Grabbe's 'comely' quiz partner on the then-popular Groucho Marx Show that appeared on p.4 of the June 1956 issue referenced a previous write-up in 'Shoptalk.' As reported 'In Chicago, our editors made a point in gathering in front of a TV set at 7 p.m. to witness the show. The reason: rumors that our West Coast consulting editor, Dr. Gene Grabbe, would be on the screen. The rumors were true. There stood Groucho and there stood Gene...and there, soon, lay the word `automation' all `Marxed' up. But Gene did his field credit. He not only gave Groucho and 20 million viewers a clear picture of automatic control, but wound up--with his female partner--a winner of the $2,000 jackpot. Talk about getting control engineering into the main stream!
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June in Control Engineering

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