Cultivating geothermal energy sources – Case Study
Since the early twentieth century, geothermal energy has been used to produce electricity. In the 1980’s and 90’s, rapid expansion in the demand for geothermal energy put pressure on suppliers to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
Because of high temperatures and varying pressures, measuring steam flow through 'Differential Pressure' methods was fraught with inconsistencies. As late as 2002, traditional differential pressure monitoring instruments were still being used extensively by the Caithness Energy Corporation in the California and Nevada steam fields. But frequent maintenance and calibration requirements were significantly challenging their ability to optimize steam turbine performance. Scale deposits created during pressure drop or cooling of dissolved solids in the Geothermal steam was consistently resulting in sensor plugging problems.SIERRA'S SOLUTION
In 2003, Caithness presented Sierra with their dilemma. Sierra proposed that they try their recently developed InnovaMass® Multivariable Vortex Mass Flow Meter. The results were immediate and over the next three years Sierra’s vortex mass flow meters were installed throughout Caithness's steam fields.
According to Richard Hutsell, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor of Caithness Energy Corporation, 'The occurrence of scaling has virtually disappeared since we switched to multivariable vortex metering. Previous devices required monthly maintenance to clear plugged orifices, whereas the vortex meters have not required service during their nearly three years of duty in the plant. System reliability is up, and maintenance costs are down, which is exactly what we were trying to accomplish.'
With both government and private industry desperately seeking viable new energy options to offset reliance on oil, Sierra will continue to focus substantial resources on the development of innovative mass flow meters that will make geothermal and other alternative energy sources more realistic options. With the introduction of Sierra's InnovaMass multivariable vortex mass flow meter, improved accuracy, wider turndown, and more reliable performance at a lower installed cost now deliver the efficiencies that the geothermal industry has long sought.
Here's what makes Sierra's InnovaMass 241S an ideal choice:
- Measures mass flow directly with one meter to measure five process variables
- Able to handle high temperatures and pressures whereas dP devices give erroneous readings in environments with varying pressure conditions
- Onboard diagnostics and field configuration
- Insertion design makes installation easy
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