Float Switch Heroes: Measuring Lakes for Hydroelectric Turbines

Float Switch Heroes: Measuring Lakes for Hydroelectric Turbines

A level measuring system is typically used in a closed environment of some kind: a chemical processing vat, an HVAC system, an automatic lubrication system. These tasks all present unique challenges to measurement, and FPI has plenty of experience in handling them. But one job we haven’t yet had the pleasure of tackling is monitoring over 700 million cubic meters of lake water with a margin of error of less than 5 millimeters.

That’s what it takes to keep the Embalse Rapel hydroelectric dam in central Chile operating at peak efficiency. When the time came to upgrade the dam’s archaic measurement system, the engineers at Embalse Rapel needed to find a measurement system that would fit into a 100 mm diameter stilling well without requiring excessive maintenance or recalibration and that wouldn’t be displaced by drift.

The ultimate choice was a radar transmitter operating on the principle of time domain reflectometry (TDR). With this sonic solution, engineers are able to monitor the water level of the largest artificial lake in Chile and keep the turbines turning smoothly at the 112 meter high dam.

If you’ve got a unique level measurement challenge for us, we’d love to hear about it.

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