(19)
(11)EP 3 301 413 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 17191674.5

(22)Date of filing:  18.09.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G01F 23/284(2006.01)
G01S 7/28(2006.01)
G01S 7/03(2006.01)
G01S 13/88(2006.01)

(54)

GUIDED WAVE RADAR LEVEL GAUGE SYSTEM FOR INTERFACE MEASUREMENT

WELLENGEFÜHRTES RADARFÜLLSTANDSMESSSYSTEM FÜR SCHNITTSTELLENMESSUNG

SYSTÈME DE JAUGE DE NIVEAU RADAR À ONDES GUIDÉES POUR MESURE D'INTERFACE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 30.09.2016 US 201615281341

(43)Date of publication of application:
04.04.2018 Bulletin 2018/14

(73)Proprietor: Rosemount Tank Radar AB
435 23 Mölnlycke (SE)

(72)Inventors:
  • EDVARDSSON, Olov
    582 28 LINKÖPING (SE)
  • ERIKSSON, Mikael
    593 52 VÄSTERVIK (SE)
  • LARSSON, Michael
    411 32 GÖTEBORG (SE)

(74)Representative: Kransell & Wennborg KB 
P.O. Box 27834
115 93 Stockholm
115 93 Stockholm (SE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 154 495
CA-A1- 2 314 027
US-A1- 2012 319 891
EP-A2- 0 833 134
US-A1- 2002 186 025
US-A1- 2012 324 994
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Technical Field of the Invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to a guided wave radar level gauge system and to a method of determining a filling level in a tank.

    Technical Background



    [0002] Radar level gauge systems are in wide use for measuring filling levels in tanks. Radar level gauging is generally performed either by means of noncontact measurement, whereby electromagnetic signals are radiated towards the product contained in the tank, or by means of contact measurement, often referred to as guided wave radar (GWR), whereby electromagnetic signals are guided towards and into the product by a transmission line probe. The transmission line probe is generally arranged vertically from top to bottom of the tank. The electromagnetic signals are subsequently reflected at the surface of the product, and the reflected signals are received by a receiver or transceiver comprised in the radar level gauge system. Based on the transmitted and reflected signals, the distance to the surface of the product can be determined.

    [0003] More particularly, the distance to the surface of the product is generally determined based on the time between transmission of an electromagnetic signal and receipt of the reflection thereof in the interface between the atmosphere in the tank and the product contained therein. In order to determine the actual filling level of the product, the distance from a reference position to the surface is determined based on the above-mentioned time (the so-called time-of-flight) and the propagation velocity along the probe of the electromagnetic signals.

    [0004] In some cases a tank may contain a stratified substance composition with several interfaces between substances at different levels. In such scenarios, it may be necessary to determine the distance between such interfaces to be able to deduce the amount of a certain substance in the tank.

    [0005] Depending on the substance-dependent and often large attenuation of an electromagnetic transmit signal traveling along a transmission line probe through a substance in a tank, it may, depending on the measurement situation, be practically impossible to determine the levels of all substance interfaces in the tank by means of a conventional guided wave radar level gauge system.

    [0006] To provide for improved determination of substance interface levels, US 2007/0090992 proposes the use of a transmission line probe with reduced signal coupling to the substance(s) surrounding the transmission line probe. According to US 2007/0090992, this is achieved by means of a so-called Partially External Dielectric (PED) transmission line probe.

    [0007] Although the PED transmission line probe according to US 2007/0090992 considerably improves the ability to measure interface levels, there are still measurement situations where even the performance provided for through the transmission line probe according to US 2007/0090992 may not be sufficient.

    [0008] One such measurement situation may be when it is desired to detect a substance, such as sand, having a relatively low dielectric constant, located below another substance, such as water, having a relatively high dielectric constant.

    [0009] To handle such a situation, WO 2016/025979 suggests to simultaneously measure from the top towards to bottom of the tank, and from the bottom towards the top of the tank. To this end, WO 2016/025979 discloses a sensing element that may include an elongated stainless steel rod and an outer shield, and to enter the tank with a first coaxial cable connected to the steel rod at the bottom of the tank and a second coaxial cable connected to the steel rod at the top of the tank.

    [0010] Although potentially providing for improved measurement performance in certain measurement situations, the solution according to WO 2016/025979 appears to require a feed-through between the inside and the outside of the tank that can allow passage of several coaxial cables. Such a feed-through appears to be difficult to achieve in practice, in particular when the relevant safety regulations are to be complied with.

    [0011] US 2012/319891 relates to a guided wave radar level gauge system, comprising a transmission line probe configured to support a first propagation mode and a second propagation mode.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0012] In view of the above, it would be desirable to provide an improved radar level gauge system for substance interface measurements, in particular a guided wave radar level gauge system for substance interface measurements providing for simplified and more compact installation.

    [0013] According to a first aspect of the present invention, it is therefore provided a radar level gauge system as defined by claim 1.

    [0014] The "substances" are not limited to any particular material phase, and may thus include solids, liquids and gases. Some examples of substances can be various petroleum products, water, sludge or sand etc.

    [0015] The interfaces between substances may be sharp or more or less diffuse depending on the substances and the conditions in the tank. There may, for instance, be an emulsion zone between substances.

    [0016] The "transceiver" may be one functional unit capable of transmitting and receiving electromagnetic signals, or may be a system comprising separate transmitter and receiver units.

    [0017] The tank may be any container or vessel capable of containing a product, and may be metallic, or partly or completely non-metallic, open, semi-open, or closed.

    [0018] The power divider may by any device capable of dividing the power carried by the transmit signal between the first transmission line probe member and the second transmission line probe member. The, per se, well-known Wilkinson type power divider would be suitable, but many other power dividers would be feasible. For instance, a simple T-junction is expected to be sufficient, at least for some applications.

    [0019] By the "average attenuation" of a transmit signal along a transmission line probe member should be understood the total signal reduction (for instance in dB) along the length of the transmission line probe member divided by the total length of the transmission line probe member.

    [0020] The present invention is based upon the realization that difficult interface measurements can be carried out without the need for a special tank-feed-through, by dividing the transmit signal, following passage through the tank feed-through, using a power divider arranged and providing thus divided first and second transmit signals to respective transmission line probe members with different propagation characteristics, optimized for different measurement depths in the tank.

    [0021] The present inventors have further realized that first echoes originating from reflection of the first transmit signal and second echoes originating from reflection of the second transmit signal can be identified, and that different interface levels can be determined based on the first echoes and the second echoes, respectively. In other words, relatively deep interface levels can be determined using signals propagated by a transmission line member configured for relatively weak signal coupling with the surrounding substance(s), while relatively shallow interface levels can be determined using signals propagated by a transmission line member configured for relatively strong signal coupling with the surrounding substance(s).

    [0022] Since a non-standard tank feed-through may add cost and complexity, and may be relatively bulky, embodiments of the present invention provide for simplified and more cost-efficient measurement of several substance interface levels.

    [0023] According to embodiments, the second transmission line probe member may comprise a probe conductor connected to the power divider; and a first dielectric layer at least partly enclosing the probe conductor. Advantageously, the first dielectric layer may completely enclose the probe conductor along an entire lenght of the second transmission line probe member.

    [0024] The first dielectric layer may advantageously form a dielectric enclosing structure extending along a substantial portion of the second transmission line probe member, such as along the entire length of the second transmission line probe member arranged inside the tank.

    [0025] This type of the transmission line probe can be referred to as a Partially External Dielectric (PED) transmission line probe.

    [0026] The propagation velocity along a PED transmission line probe is characterized by an effective dielectric constant εeff which depends on the dielectric constant of the dielectric enclosing structure εint and the dielectric constant of the surrounding medium (air, steam, product vapor, probe contamination etc) εext. The propagation velocity of the electromagnetic signal travelling along the PED transmission line probe is given by the velocity of light divided by the square root of εeff.

    [0027] The effective dielectric constant εeff of the PED transmission line probe at least approximately depends on the dielectric constant of the dielectric enclosing structure εint and the dielectric constant of the surrounding medium εext according to the following relation:

    where α is a number between 0 and 1 which indicates the degree of coupling to the surrounding medium. With α=1, we have naked wires (and maximum influence of the surrounding medium) and with α =0 we have a line fully screened from the surrounding medium (such as a closed coaxial line). It should be noted that, depending on the geometry of the transmission line probe member, the exact calculation can be a bit different, but the important thing is that the coupling to the exterior liquid can be adapted to fit the requirements by a suitable probe configuration and/or selection of dielectric material.

    [0028] In embodiments of the radar level gauge system according to the present invention, it can thus be said that the first transmission line member has a first average coupling factor α1 for signal propagation through the stratified substance composition, which is higher than the second average coupling factor α2 of the second transmission line member, for signal propagation through the stratified substance composition.

    [0029] According to various embodiments, the first transmission line probe member may comprise: a probe conductor connected to the power divider; and a second dielectric layer, different from the first dielectric layer comprised in the second transmission line probe member, at least partly enclosing the probe conductor. Advantageously, the second dielectric layer may completely enclose the probe conductor along an entire lenght of the first transmission line probe member.

    [0030] The second dielectric layer may be different from the first dielectric layer in various ways. For instance, the dielectric materials may be different (have different relative dielectric constants), and/or the physical configurations may be different. For example, the enclosing thicknesses may be different. The properties of the first and second dielectric layers may advantageously be selected to achieve the above-mentioned relation between the first average coupling factor α1 (relatively high), and the second average coupling factor α2 (relatively low).

    [0031] Furthermore, the first and/or second dielectric layers (where applicable) may be configured to provide different coupling between the first and second transmit signals, respectively and a given surrounding medium at different vertical positions in the tank. For instance, the first (and/or second) dielectric layer may be configured to provide for a weaker coupling for deeper levels in the tank. In this manner, for example, relatively weak oil echoes can be distinguished, while providing for decreased attenuation in a water layer underneath the oil layer.

    [0032] According to embodiments, the first transmission line probe member may comprise a first probe conductor conductively connected to the power divider to receive the first transmit signal from the power divider, and a shielding conductor extending along at least a portion of the first probe conductor; and the second transmission line probe member may comprise a second probe conductor conductively connected to the power divider to receive the second transmit signal from the power divider, and the shielding conductor extending along at least a portion of the first probe conductor and the second probe conductor.

    [0033] Hence, the shielding conductor may be included in both the first transmission line member and the second transmission line member. The shielding conductor may be configured in many different ways. For instance, as an H-profile, as an E-profile, as an S-provfile, or as a U-profile.

    [0034] Advantageously, the shielding conductor may be configured to provide different coupling between at least one of the first transmit signal and the second transmit signal, and a given surrounding medium at different vertical positions in the tank.

    [0035] According to various embodiments, the second transmission line probe member may comprise: a probe conductor connected to the power divider; and a shielding conductor spaced apart from the probe conductor and extending along at least a portion of the second transmission line probe member, starting from the upper end of the second transmission line probe member.

    [0036] The shielding conductor may be connected to electrical ground, for instance through direct conductive connection to a conductive tank ceiling where applicable.

    [0037] Through the use of a shielding conductor between the probe conductor and the substance(s) in the tank, the signal coupling between the probe conductor and the substance(s) can be reduced, which in turn reduces the attenuation of the second transmit signal.

    [0038] According to various embodiments, furthermore, the first transmission line probe member may comprise a probe conductor connected to the power divider; the second transmission line probe member may comprise a probe conductor connected to the power divider; and the probe conductor of the first transmission line probe member may be conductively connected to the probe conductor of the second transmission line probe member at the lower ends of the first transmission line probe member and the second transmission line probe member.

    [0039] These embodiments provide for measurement from the top of the tank towards the bottom using the first transmission line probe member, and from the bottom of the tank (lower end of the second transmission line probe member) towards the top using the second transmission line probe member.

    [0040] Such a measurement configuration provides for increased temporal separation between the first set of echo indicators indicating reflection of the first transmit signal at impedance discontinuities encountered by the first transmit signal, and the second set of echo indicators indicating reflection of the second transmit signal at impedance discontinuites encountered by the second transmit signal. This can, in turn, facilitate the identification of the first and second sets of echo indicators, respectively, which may improve or at least facilitate the determination of the first and second levels.

    [0041] To further increase the above-mentioned temporal separation, the probe conductor of the first transmission line probe member may be conductively connected to the probe conductor of the second transmission line probe member at the lower ends of the first transmission line probe member and the second transmission line probe member through a delay line.

    [0042] Various delay lines are well-known to one of ordinary skill in the relevant art. For instance, a coaxial line with a dielectric having a relatively high dielectric constant can be used to delay the signals.

    [0043] To ensure that sufficient signal strength remains at the lower end of the probe conductor of the second transmission line member to provide for the desired "bottom-up" measurement, measures may be taken to reduce the signal attenuation in the second transmission line probe member.

    [0044] According to embodiments, the second transmission line probe member may therefore comprise a shielding conductor spaced apart from the probe conductor and extending along at least a portion of the second transmission line probe member. The shielding conductor may extend from the upper end of the second transmission line probe member.

    [0045] Advantageously, this shielding conductor may extend to the lower end of the second transmission line probe member.

    [0046] Moreover, at least one of the first transmission line probe member and the second transmission line probe member may comprise a delay portion for increasing a temporal separation between the first reflection signal and the second reflection signal. Such a delay portion may, for example, be a portion of the probe member having a dielectric material with a relatively high dielectric constant.

    [0047] According to a second aspect of the present invention, it is provided a method as defined by claim 15.

    [0048] It should be noted that the steps of methods according to embodiments of the present invention need not necessarily be carried out in any particular order, unless explicitly or implicitly required.

    [0049] According to various embodiments, the step of determining may comprise the steps of: forming a measurement signal based on the combined reflection signal and a timing relation between the transmit signal and the combined reflection signal, the measurement signal comprising a first set of echo indicators indicating reflection of the first transmit signal at impedance discontinuities encountered by the first transmit signal, and a second set of echo indicators indicating reflection of the second transmit signal at impedance discontinuites encountered by the second transmit signal; identifying the first set of echo indicators and the second set of echo indicators in the measurement signal; and determining the first level based on at least one echo indicator from the first set of echo indicators, and determing the second level based on at least one echo indicator from the second set of echo indicators.

    [0050] Further embodiments of, and effects obtained through this second aspect of the present invention are largely analogous to those described above for the first aspect of the invention.

    [0051] In summary, the present invention thus relates to a radar level gauge system comprising: a transceiver; a tank feed-through; a power divider to divide a transmit signal following passage through the feed-through into a first transmit signal and a second transmit signal; a first probe member configured to guide the first transmit signal and to return a first reflection signal, said first probe member providing a first relatively large average attenuation; a second probe member configured to guide said second transmit signal and to return a second reflection signal, said second probe member providing a second relatively small average attenuation; measurement signal forming circuitry for forming a measurement signal comprising a first set of echo indicators indicating reflection of said first transmit signal, and a second set of echo indicators indicating reflection of said second transmit signal; and level determining circuitry for determining a first level based on said first set of echo indicators, and a second, deeper, level based on said second set of echo indicators.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0052] These and other aspects of the present invention will now be described in more detail, with reference to the appended drawings showing example embodiments of the invention, wherein:

    Fig 1 schematically illustrates an exemplary tank arrangement comprising a radar level gauge system according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Fig 2A schematically illustrates a first embodiment of the radar level gauge system in fig 1;

    Fig 2B is a more detailed schematic block diagram of the measurement electronics unit in fig 2A;

    Fig 3 is a flow-chart schematically illustrating an example embodiment of the method according to the present invention;

    Fig 4 is an exemplary echo curve obtained using the radar level gauge system in fig 2A;

    Fig 5A schematically illustrates a second embodiment of the radar level gauge system in fig 1;

    Fig 5B is an exemplary echo curve obtained using the radar level gauge system in fig 5A;

    Fig 6A schematically illustrates a third embodiment of the radar level gauge system in fig 1;

    Fig 6B is cross-section view of the transmission line probe arrangement comprised in the radar level gauge system in fig 6A;

    Fig 7A schematically illustrates a fourth embodiment of the radar level gauge system in fig 1; and

    Fig 7B is cross-section view of the transmission line probe arrangement comprised in the radar level gauge system in fig 7A.


    Detailed Description of an Example Embodiment of the Invention



    [0053] Fig 1 schematically shows a level measuring system 1 comprising a radar level gauge system 2 according to an example embodiment of the present invention, and a host system 10 illustrated as a control room.

    [0054] The radar level gauge system 2, which is of GWR (Guided Wave Radar) type, is arranged at a tank 4 having a tubular mounting structure (often referred to as a "nozzle") extending substantially vertically from the roof of the tank 4.

    [0055] In the present exemplary measurement situation, the tank 4 contains a stratified substance composition comprising a first substance 12, a second substance 14, a third substance 16, and a fourth substance 18. In this particular example, the first substance 12 may be air or vapor, the second substance 14 may be oil, the third substance 16 may be water, and the fourth substance 18 may be sand. Due to the different densities of the substances in the stratified substance composition (and due to the fact that these substances are substantially immiscible), there is a first interface 20 between the first substance 12 and the second substance 14, a second interface 22 between the second substance 14 and the third substance 16, and a third interface 24 between the third substance 16 and the fourth substance 18.

    [0056] The radar level gauge system 2 is installed to measure the levels of the first 20, second 22 and third 24 interfaces.The radar level gauge system 2 comprises a measuring electronics unit 6 arranged outside the tank 4, and a transmission line probe arrangement 7, extending from the measuring electronics unit 6, through the tubular mounting structure, towards and into the stratified substance composition. Various embodiments of the radar level gauge system 2 and, in particular, different transmission line probe arrangements 7 will be described in detail further below.

    [0057] Fig 2A schematically shows a first embodiment of the radar level gauge system 2 in fig 1. Referring to fig 2A, the measurement electronics unit 6 comprises a transceiver 26, processing circuitry 28, a communication interface 30, and a communication antenna 32 for wireless communication with the control room 10 in fig 1.

    [0058] As is schematically shown in fig 2A, the radar level gauge system 2 further comprises a tank feed-through 34, a power divider 36, a first transmission line probe member 38, a second transmission line probe member 40, and spacers 42a-c keeping the first 38 and second 40 transmission line probe members in place.

    [0059] The transceiver 26 is configured to generate, transmit and receive electromagnetic signals. The feed-through 34 is connected to the transceiver 26 for passing the transmit signal ST from the outside of the tank 4 to an inside of the tank 4, and the reflection signal SR from the inside of the tank 4 to the outside of the tank 4. The power divider 36 is arranged inside the tank and connected to the feed-through 34 to divide the transmit signal ST from the transceiver 26 into a first transmit signal ST1 and a second transmit signal ST2, and to combine a first reflection signal SR1 and a second reflection signal SR2 to the reflection signal SR received by the transceiver 26.

    [0060] With continued reference to fig 2A, the first transmission line probe member 38 has an upper end connected to the power divider 36, and the second transmission line probe member 40 has an upper end connected to the power divider 36.

    [0061] As is schematically indicated by the arrows at the first 20, second 22 and third 24 interfaces, the first transmission line probe member 38 is configured to guide the first transmit signal ST1 through the stratified substance composition towards a lower end of the first transmission probe member 38 and to return the first reflection signal SR1 resulting from reflection of the first transmit signal ST1 at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby.

    [0062] Similarly, the second transmission line probe member 40 is configured to guide the second transmit signal ST2 through the stratified substance composition towards a lower end of the second transmission probe member 40 and to return the second reflection signal SR2 resulting from reflection of the second transmit signal ST1 at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby.

    [0063] As is schematically indicated in fig 2A, the second transmission line probe member 40 has a first portion 44a, and a second portion 44b. Along the first portion 44a, the second transmission line probe member 40 comprises a probe conductor 46 and a shielding conductor 48, with a dielectric material filling the space between the probe conductor 46 and the shielding conductor 48. In the embodiment of fig 2A, the second transmission line probe member is thus a coaxial line in the first portion 44a, and a single conductor probe (sometimes also referred to as a Goubau probe) in the second portion 44b. Between the first portion 44a and the second portion 44b, there is an impedance matching segment, along which the dielectric of the coaxial line is gradually reduced in thickness.

    [0064] In the first portion 44a, where the second transmission line probe member 40 is a coaxial line, the attenuation of the second transmit signal ST2 is very small and may be practically independent of the properties of the surrounding substance(s) in the first portion 44a. In the second portion 44b, the attenuation of the second transmit signal ST2 is considerably larger and depends on the properties of the surrounding substance(s). This is schematically indicated in the attenuation diagram on the right hand side of the fig 2A.

    [0065] In the third substance 16, which may for example be water, the attentuation is rather high, to then decrease in the fourth substance 18, which may for example be sand. The average attenuation of the second transmit signal ST2 along the second transmission line probe member 40 is schematically indicated by the dashed line in the attenuation diagram to the right in fig 2A.

    [0066] Turning now to the first transmission line probe member 38, this probe member is, as is schematically shown in fig 2A, an single line probe with a relatively thin dielectric coating along the entire length thereof. Due to this configuration of the first transmission line probe member 38 (high coupling factor α), the attenuation of the first transmit signal ST1 along the first transmission line probe member 38 is relatively high, and dependent on the properties of the surrounding substance(s). This is schematically indicated in the attenuation diagram to the left of fig 2A, where it is indicated that the attenuation increases at the first interface 20, then increases again at the second interface 22, and finally decreases at the third interface 24. The average attenuation of the first transmit signal ST1 along the first transmission line probe member 38 is schematically indicated by the dashed line in the attenuation diagram to the left in fig 2A. The average attenuation of the first transmit signal ST1 is higher than the average attenuation of the second transmit signal ST2.

    [0067] The different attenuations in the first 38 and second 40 transmission line member, respectively are reflected by the arrows in fig 2A, schematically indicating the signal strength of the respective transmit signals and reflection signals at the first 20, second 22, and third 24 substance interfaces.

    [0068] As is schematically indicated just to the left of the first transmission line probe member 38 in fig 2A, the first transmit signal ST1 is so attenuated at the third substance interface 24 that there is no contribution to the first reflection signal SR1 from reflection at the third substance interface 24.

    [0069] Turning to the second transmission line probe member 40, there is no contribution to the second reflection signal SR2 from reflection at the first 20 and second 22 substance interfaces, since the second transmit signal ST2 was shielded by the shielding conductor 48 when the second transmission line probe member 40 passed those substance interfaces. Since the second transmit signal ST2 was only slightly attenuated along the first probe portion 44a, and there were no reflection losses, there is sufficient signal strenght left at the third substance interface 24 to give a significant contribution to the second reflection signal SR2.

    [0070] Referring now to figure 2B, there is shown a more detailed block diagram of the transceiver 26 and processing circuitry 28 in fig 2A according to an embodiment of the present invention.

    [0071] The transceiver 26 here includes a microwave source 50 driven by a step generator 52, in turn controlled by timing circuitry 54 forming part of the processing circuitry 28. The microwave source 50 is connected to the tank feed-through (not shown in fig 2B) via a power divider 56 in the transceiver 26. The power divider 56 is arranged to connect the reflection signal SR coming from the tank feed-through to a mixer 58, which is also connected to receive the transmit signal ST from the microwave source 50. The mixer output is connected to a low pass filter 60 and an amplifier 62.

    [0072] The processing circuitry 28 here includes, in addition to the timing circuitry 54 mentioned above, measurement signal forming circuitry, in the form of sampler 64 configured to receive and sample the intermediate frequency signal SIF output by the mixer 58, low pass filtered by the low pass filter 60 and amplified by the amplifier 62. The sampler 64 may, for instance, comprise a sample-and-hold circuit in combination with an A/D-converter, or be realized as a sigma-delta converter. The sampler 64 is controlled by the timing circuitry 54 to be synchronized with the transmit signal ST. The processing circuitry 28 further includes echo identifying circuitry 66, and level determining circuitry 68.

    [0073] While the elements of the transceiver 26 are typically implemented in hardware, and form part of an integrated unit normally referred to as a microwave unit, at least some portions of the processing circuitry 28 may typically be embodied by software modules executed by an embedded processor. The invention is not restricted to this particular realization, and any implementation found suitable to realize the herein described functionality may be contemplated.

    [0074] A method according to an example embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to fig 3. Figs 2A-B will also be referred to concerning the structure of a radar level gauge system 2 in which the method is implemented, and the diagram in fig 4 will be referred to when appropriate during the description of the method.

    [0075] Turning first to fig 3, a transmit signal ST is generated and transmitted by the transceiver 26 in a first step 101. The transmit signal ST is subsequently, in step 102, divided by the power divider 36 into a first transmit signal ST1 and a second transmit signal ST2.

    [0076] In the next step 103, the first transmit signal ST1 is guided by the first transmission line probe member 38 at least partly through the stratified substance composition in the tank 4, and the second transmit signal ST2 is guided by the second transmission line probe member 40 at least partly through the stratified substance composition in the tank 4.

    [0077] A first reflection signal SR1 is returned by the first transmission line probe member 38, and a second reflection signal SR2 is returned by the second transmission line probe member 40 in step 104.

    [0078] Thereafter, in step 105, the first SR1 and second SR2 reflection signals are combined by the power divider 36 to form a combined reflection signal SR, which is passed through the feed-through 34 and returned to the transceiver 26.

    [0079] In the transceiver, referring to fig 2B, the combined reflection signal SR is mixed with the transmit signal ST by the mixer 58, and the resulting intermediate frequency signal SIF is sampled by the sampler 64 to form a digital measurement signal in step 106.

    [0080] An exemplary measurement signal for the measurement configuration in fig 2A is schematically shown in fig 4. As can be seen in fig 4, the measurement signal comprises a number of echo indicators, indicating reflection at impedance discontinuities encountered by the first transmit signal ST1 and the second transmit signal ST2. Referring to fig 4, the first echo indicator, which is a positive peak 70, indicates reflection at the feed-through 34, the second echo indicator, which is a negative peak 72, indicates reflection at the power divider 36, the third echo indicator, which is a negative peak 74, indicates reflection at the first interface 20, the fourth echo indicator, which is a negative peak 76, indicates reflection at the second interface 22, the fifth echo indicator, which is a positive peak 78, indicates reflection at the third interface 24, and the sixth echo indicator, which is a negative peak 80, indicates reflection at the end of the second transmission line probe member 40.

    [0081] Some of these echo indicators indicate reflection of both the first transmit signal ST1 and the second transmit signal ST2, other echo indicators indicate reflection of the first transmit signal ST1 only, and yet other echo indicators indicate reflection of the second transmit signal ST2 only.

    [0082] In the example diagram of fig 4, which relates to the measurement situation in fig 2A, the first 70 and second 72 echo indicators indicate reflection of the transmit signal ST before division into the first ST1 and second ST2 transmit signals. The third 74 and fourth 76 echo indicators indicate reflection of the first transmit signal ST1, because the second transmit signal ST2 is shielded from the surrounding substance(s) due to the configuration of the second transmission line probe member 40 in the first portion 44a thereof as was described further above. Finally, the fifth 78 and sixth 80 echo indicators indicate reflection of the second transmit signal ST2, because the first transmit signal ST1 has been too attenuated to provide more than a negligible reflection at the third interface 24 or the end of the first transmission line probe member 38. Accordingly, a first set of echo indicators (the third 74 and fourth 76 echo indicators) indicating reflection of the first transmit signal ST1, and a second set of echo indicators (the fifth 78 and sixth 80 echo indicators) indicating reflection of the second transmit signal ST2 are identified in step 107. The identification is based on known properties of the first transmission line probe member 38 and the second transmission line probe member 40, and is carried out automatically by the echo identifier 66 in the processing circuitry 28.

    [0083] Finally, in step 108, the level of the first 20 interface is determined based on the third echo indicator 74, the level of the second 22 interface is determined based on the fourth echo indicator 76, and the level of the third 24 interface is determined based on the fifth echo indicator 78.

    [0084] It should be noted that the echo indicator identification briefly described above is for a relatively simple case. In embodiments, there may be both an echo indicator indicating reflection of the first transmit signal at a particular substance interface, and another echo indicator indicating reflection of the second transmit signal at the same substance interface. To make it easier to distinguish such echo indicators from each other, a delay portion (not shown in fig 2A) may be provided at the top of one of the first 38 and second 40 transmission line probe members to provide for better temporal separation between echo indicators indicating reflection at the same substance interface.

    [0085] Other embodiments of the radar level gauge system 2 according to the present invention will now be described with reference to figs 5A-B and fig 6. The above-described examplary method is straight-forward to apply to these other embodiments as well.

    [0086] Fig 5A schematically shows a second embodiment of the radar level gauge system 2 in fig 1. The second embodiment in fig 5A differs from the first embodiment in fig 2A in that the second transmission line probe member 40 is shielded by a shielding conductor 48 all the way to the lower end of the second transmission line probe member 40, and that the lower end of the second transmission line probe member 40 is conductively connected to the lower end of the first transmission line probe member 38 by a connecting line 82, which may be delay line, such as a coaxial cable with a dielectric having a relatively high dielctric constant.

    [0087] Due to this difference in configuration, the second transmit signal ST2 will be (partly) reflected at the substance interfaces starting from the bottom of the tank 4. This is schematically indicated in fig 5A, where the second transmit signal ST2 is first reflected at the third substance interface 24, and then at the second substance interface 22. The first transmission line probe member 38 has the same configuration as in the first embodiment shown in fig 2A, so that the first transmit signal ST1 is first reflected by the first substance interface 20 and then by the second substance interface 22. It should be noted that the first transmission line probe member 38 has a higher average attenuation than the second transmission line probe member 40, just as was the case for the first embodiment described above.

    [0088] The configuration of the second embodiment of fig 5A may result in the measurement signal schematically shown in fig 5B. Like the measurement signal in fig 4, the measurement signal in fig 5B comprises echo indicators indicating reflection at the feed-through, at the power divider, at the first interface 20 (from the top), and at the second interface 22 (from the top). These echo indicators are indicated by the same reference numerals used in fig 4. In addition, the measurement signal in fig 5B includes an echo indicator 84 indicating reflection at the interface between the second transmission line probe member 40 and the connecting line 82, an echo indicator 86 indicating reflection at the interface between the connecting line 82 and the first transmission line probe member 38, an echo indicator 88 indicating reflection from below at the third interface 24, an echo indicator 90 indicating reflection from below at the second interface 22, and an echo indicator 92 indicating reflection from below at the first interface 20.

    [0089] Due to the temporal separation between the echo indicators (74 and 76) indicating reflection of the first transmit signal ST1 from above at substance interfaces, and the echo indicators (88, 90 and 92) indicating reflection of the second transmit signal ST2 from below at substance interfaces, it will be straight-forward to identify echo indicators related to the first transmit signal ST1 and echo indicators related to the second transmit signal ST2.

    [0090] With reference to figs 6A-B, a third embodiment of the radar level gauge system 2 in fig 1 will be described.

    [0091] Fig 6A is a side-view of the radar level gauge system 2 comprising a measurement unit 210, a communication unit 230, a process connection 212, and an antenna arrangement 7. Referring to the description provided above in relation to the first and second embodiments of the radar level gauge system according to the invention, the measurement unit 210 comprises the transceiver 26, the processing circuitry 28, and the feed-through 34; and the communication unit 230 comprises the communication interface 30.

    [0092] As is schematically indicated in fig 6A and in fig 6B, which is a cross section view of the antenna arrangement 7 in fig 6A, the antenna arrangement 7 comprises a first probe conductor 214, a second probe conductor 216, a shielding conductor 218, and a dielectric material 220, such as PTFE, enclosing the first 214 and second 216 probe conductors.

    [0093] In this third embodiment, the first transmission line probe member 38 is formed by the first probe conductor 214 and portions of the shielding conductor 218 and dielectric material 220 adjacent to the first probe conductor 214. The second transmission line probe member 40 is formed by the second probe conductor 216 and portions of the shielding conductor 218 and dielectric material adjacent to the second probe conductor 216.

    [0094] As will be apparent from the description related to coupling efficiency etc further above, the first transmission line probe member 38 has a coupling factor (α1) that is considerably higher than the coupling factor (α2) of the second transmission line probe member 40. As described above, the first 214 and second 216 probe conductors may or may not be conductively connected to each other at their lower ends.

    [0095] Finally, with reference to figs 7A-B, a fourth embodiment of the radar level gauge system 2 in fig 1 will be described.

    [0096] As can be seen in figs 7A-B, the radar level gauge system according to the fourth embodiment, mainly differs from the third embodiment in figs 6A-B in that the shielding conductor 218 has a different configuration. Instead of the U-profile in fig 6B, the shielding conductor 218 in fig 7B has an H-profile. In the example embodiment of figs 7A-B, the first 222a and second 222b channels on either side of the separating wall 224 are filled with the same dielectric material 220 (such as PTFE). To provide the desired different coupling factors (α1 and α2), the first probe conductor 214 is arranged more shallow in the first channel 222a than the second probe conductor 216 is in the second channel 222b.

    [0097] The person skilled in the art realizes that the present invention by no means is limited to the preferred embodiments described above. For example, many other probe arrangements may be feasible. In particular, many other cross-sections of the shielding conductor 218 are possible, and may be advantageous. Furthermore, the cross-section of the shielding conductor 218 and/or the configuration of the dielectric material(s) may vary along the length of the probe arrangement 7. Such a variation or variations may advantageously be substantially continuous.


    Claims

    1. A radar level gauge system (2) for installation at a tank (4) containing a stratified substance composition including at least a first substance (12) having a first density, a second substance (14) having a second density greater than said first density, and a third substance (16) having a third density greater than said second density, to determine a first level of a first interface (20) between said first substance and said second substance, and a second level of a second interface (22) between said second substance and said third substance, said radar level gauge system (2) comprising:

    a transceiver (26) for generating and transmitting an electromagnetic transmit signal (ST), and receiving an electromagnetic reflection signal (SR);

    a tank feed-through (34) connected to said transceiver (26);

    a power divider (36) connected to said feed-through to divide power carried by the transmit signal (ST) from said transceiver following passage of the transmit signal through the feed-through into a first power portion carried by a first transmit signal (ST1) and a second power portion carried by a second transmit signal (ST2), and to combine a first reflection signal (SR1) and a second reflection signal (SR2) to the reflection signal (SR) received by said transceiver;

    a first transmission line probe member (38) having an upper end connected to said power divider and being configured to receive the power portion carried by the first transmit signal from the power divider and to guide the first transmit signal (ST1) at least partly through said stratified substance composition towards a lower end of said first transmission probe member and to return said first reflection signal (SR1) resulting from reflection of said first transmit signal at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby, said first transmission line probe member (38) being configured to provide an interaction between said first transmit signal and said stratified substance composition resulting in a first relatively large average attenuation of said first transmit signal (ST1);

    a second transmission line probe member (40) having an upper end connected to said power divider and configured to receive the power portion carried by the second transmit signal from the power divider and to guide said second transmit signal (ST2) at least partly through said stratified substance composition towards a lower end of said second transmission probe member and to return said second reflection signal (SR2) resulting from reflection of said second transmit signal at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby, said second transmission line probe member (40) being configured to provide an interaction between said second transmit signal and said stratified substance composition resulting in a second relatively small average attenuation of said second transmit signal (ST2), said second average attenuation being smaller than said first average attenuation;

    measurement signal forming circuitry (64) connected to said transceiver for forming a measurement signal based on said reflection signal (SR) and a timing relation between said transmit signal (ST) and said reflection signal (SR), said measurement signal comprising a first set of echo indicators indicating reflection of said first transmit signal (ST1) at impedance discontinuities encountered by said first transmit signal, and a second set of echo indicators indicating reflection of said second transmit signal (ST2) at impedance discontinuities encountered by said second transmit signal; and

    level determining circuitry (68) for determining said first level based on at least one echo indicator from said first set of echo indicators, and determining said second level based on at least one echo indicator from said second set of echo indicators.


     
    2. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 1, wherein said second transmission line probe member (40) comprises:

    a probe conductor (46) connected to said power divider; and

    a first dielectric layer at least partly enclosing said probe conductor.


     
    3. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 2, wherein said first dielectric layer is configured to provide different coupling between said second transmit signal (ST2) and a given surrounding medium at different positions along said second transmission line probe member (40).
     
    4. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 3, wherein said first dielectric layer is configured to provide a decreasing coupling between said second transmit signal (ST2) and said given surrounding medium with increasing distance from said power divider.
     
    5. The radar level gauge system (2) according to any one of claims 2 to 4, wherein said first transmission line probe member (38) comprises:

    a probe conductor connected to said power divider; and

    a second dielectric layer, different from the first dielectric layer comprised in said second transmission line probe member, at least partly enclosing said probe conductor.


     
    6. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 5, wherein said second dielectric layer is configured to provide different coupling between said first transmit signal (ST1) and a given surrounding medium at different positions along said first transmission line probe member (38).
     
    7. The radar level gauge system (2) according to any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein said second transmission line probe member (40) comprises:

    a probe conductor connected to said power divider; and

    a shielding conductor spaced apart from said probe conductor and extending along at least a portion of said second transmission line probe member.


     
    8. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 7, wherein said shielding conductor extends along at least said portion of said second transmission line probe member (40) starting from the upper end of said second transmission line probe member.
     
    9. The radar level gauge system (2) according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein:

    said first transmission line probe member comprises a first probe conductor conductively connected to said power divider to receive said first transmit signal, and a shielding conductor extending along at least a portion of said first probe conductor; and

    said second transmission line probe member comprises a second probe conductor conductively connected to said power divider to receive said second transmit signal, and said shielding conductor extending along at least a portion of said first probe conductor and said second probe conductor.


     
    10. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 9, wherein said shielding conductor is configured to provide different coupling between at least one of said first transmit signal and said second transmit signal, and a given surrounding medium at different vertical positions in said tank.
     
    11. The radar level gauge system (2) according to any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein:

    said first transmission line probe member comprises a probe conductor connected to said power divider;

    said second transmission line probe member comprises a probe conductor connected to said power divider; and

    the probe conductor of said first transmission line probe member (38) is conductively connected to the probe conductor of said second transmission line probe member (40) at the lower ends of said first transmission line probe member and said second transmission line probe member.


     
    12. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 11, wherein the probe conductor of said first transmission line probe member is conductively connected to the probe conductor of said second transmission line probe member at the lower ends of said first transmission line probe member and said second transmission line probe member through a delay line (82) for increasing a temporal separation between said first reflection signal (SR1) and said second reflection signal (SR2).
     
    13. The radar level gauge system (2) according to claim 11 or 12, wherein said second transmission line probe member comprises a shielding conductor spaced apart from said probe conductor and extending along at least a portion of said second transmission line probe member.
     
    14. The radar level gauge system (2) according to any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein at least one of said first transmission line probe member and said second transmission line probe member comprises a delay portion for increasing a temporal separation between said first reflection signal and said second reflection signal.
     
    15. A method of determining interface levels in a tank containing a stratified substance composition including at least a first substance (12) having a first density, a second substance (14) having a second density greater than said first density, and a third substance (16) having a third density greater than said second density, using a radar level gauge system (2) comprising:

    a transceiver (26);

    a feed-through (34) connected to said transceiver;

    a power divider (36) connected to said feed-through;

    a first transmission line probe member (38) connected to said power divider and providing a first average attenuation for signal propagation through said stratified substance composition;

    a second transmission line probe member (40) connected to said power divider and providing a second average attenuation, smaller than said first average attenuation, for signal propagation through said stratified substance composition; and

    processing circuitry (28),

    said method comprising the steps of:

    generating and transmitting (101), by said transceiver, an electromagnetic transmit signal (ST);

    passing, by said feed-through (34), said transmit signal from the outside of said tank to an inside of said tank;

    dividing (102), by said power divider, a power carried by said transmit signal into a first power portion carried by a first transmit signal (ST1) that is provided to the first transmission line probe member and a second power portion carried by a second transmit signal (ST2) that is provided to the second transmission line probe member;

    guiding (103), by said first transmission line probe member (38), said first transmit signal (ST1) at least partly through said stratified substance composition;

    guiding (103), by said second transmission line probe member (40), said second transmit signal (ST2) at least partly through said stratified substance composition;

    returning (104), by said first transmission line probe member (38), a first reflection signal (SR1) resulting from reflection of said first transmit signal at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby;

    returning (104), by said second transmission line probe member (40), a second reflection signal (SR2) resulting from reflection of said second transmit signal at any impedance discontinuities encountered thereby;

    combining (105), by said power divider (36), said first reflection signal and said second reflection signal into a combined reflection signal (SR);

    passing, by said feed-through, said combined reflection signal to said transceiver;

    receiving, by said transceiver (26), said combined reflection signal; and

    determining (108), by said processing circuitry (28), a first level of a first interface (20) between said first substance and said second substance, and a second level of a second interface (22) between said second substance and said third substance based on said combined reflection signal.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) zur Installation an einem Tank (4), welcher eine geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung beinhaltet, die mindestens eine erste Substanz (12) mit einer ersten Dichte, eine zweite Substanz (14) mit einer zweiten Dichte, die größer ist als die erste Dichte, und eine dritte Substanz (16) mit einer dritten Dichte, die größer ist als die zweite Dichte, umfasst, um einen ersten Füllstand einer ersten Schnittstelle (20) zwischen der ersten Substanz und der zweiten Substanz sowie einen zweiten Füllstand einer zweiten Schnittstelle (22) zwischen der zweiten Substanz und der dritten Substanz zu bestimmen, wobei das Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) umfasst:

    einen Sendeempfänger (26) zum Erzeugen und Übertragen eines elektromagnetischen Übertragungssignals (ST) und Empfangen eines elektromagnetischen Reflexionssignals (SR);

    eine Tankdurchführung (34), die mit dem Sendeempfänger (26) verbunden ist;

    einen Leistungsteiler (36), der mit der Durchführung verbunden ist, um Leistung, welche von dem Übertragungssignal (ST) getragen wird, von dem Sendeempfänger nach einem Leiten des Übertragungssignals durch die Durchführung in einen ersten Leistungsabschnitt, welcher von einem ersten Übertragungssignal (ST1) getragen wird, und einen zweiten Leistungsabschnitt, welcher von einem zweiten Übertragungssignal (ST2) getragen wird, zu teilen und um ein erstes Reflexionssignal (SR1) und ein zweites Reflexionssignal (SR2) zu dem Reflexionssignal (SR) zu kombinieren, das durch den Sendeempfänger empfangen wird;

    ein erstes Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38), das ein oberes Ende aufweist, welches mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist, und eingerichtet ist, um den Leistungsabschnitt, welcher von dem ersten Übertragungssignal getragen wird, von dem Leistungsteiler zu empfangen und um das erste Übertragungssignal (ST1) zumindest teilweise durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung hin zu einem unteren Ende des Übertragung-Sondenelements zu führen und um das erste Reflexionssignal (SR1), das sich aus einer Reflexion des ersten Übertragungssignals an jeglichen Impedanzdiskontinuitäten ergibt, auf welche es stößt, zurückzugeben, wobei das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38) eingerichtet ist, um eine Wechselwirkung zwischen dem ersten Übertragungssignal und der geschichteten Substanzzusammensetzung bereitzustellen, welche zu einer ersten relativ großen durchschnittlichen Dämpfung des ersten Übertragungssignals (ST1) führt;

    ein zweites Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40), das ein oberes Ende aufweist, welches mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist, und eingerichtet ist, den Leistungsabschnitt, welcher von dem zweiten Übertragungssignal getragen wird, von dem Leistungsteiler zu empfangen und um das zweite Übertragungssignal (ST2) zumindest teilweise durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung hin zu einem unteren Ende des zweiten Übertragung-Sondenelements zu führen und um das zweite Reflexionssignal (SR2) , das sich aus einer Reflexion des zweiten Übertragungssignals an jeglichen Impedanzdiskontinuitäten ergibt, auf welche es stößt, zurückzugeben, wobei das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40) eingerichtet ist, um eine Wechselwirkung zwischen dem zweiten Übertragungssignal und der geschichteten Substanzzusammensetzung bereitzustellen, welche zu einer zweiten relativ kleinen durchschnittlichen Dämpfung des zweiten Übertragungssignals (ST2) führt, wobei die zweite durchschnittliche Dämpfung kleiner ist als die erste durchschnittliche Dämpfung;

    eine Messignalbildung-Schaltungsanordnung (64), die mit dem Sendeempfänger zum Bilden eines Messignals basierend auf dem Reflexionssignal (SR) und einer Zeitbeziehung zwischen dem Übertragungssignal (ST) und dem Reflexionssignal (SR) verbunden ist, wobei das Messignal einen ersten Satz Echoindikatoren, welche eine Reflexion des ersten Übertragungssignals (ST1) an Impedanzdiskontinuitäten angeben, auf welche es stößt, und einen zweiten Satz Echoindikatoren, welche eine Reflexion des zweiten Übertragungssignals (ST2) an Impedanzdiskontinuitäten angeben, auf welche es stößt, umfasst; und

    eine Füllstandbestimmung-Schaltungsanordnung (68) zum Bestimmen des ersten Füllstands basierend auf mindestens einem Echoindikator aus dem ersten Satz Echoindikatoren und Bestimmen des zweiten Füllstands basierend auf mindestens einem Echoindikator aus dem zweiten Satz Echoindikatoren.


     
    2. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 1, wobei das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40) umfasst:

    einen Sondenleiter (46), der mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist; und

    eine erste dielektrische Schicht, die den Sondenleiter zumindest teilweise umschließt.


     
    3. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 2, wobei die erste dielektrische Schicht eingerichtet ist, um eine unterschiedliche Kopplung zwischen dem zweiten Übertragungssignal (ST2) und einem gegebenen umgebenden Medium an unterschiedlichen Positionen entlang des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements (40) bereitzustellen.
     
    4. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 3, wobei die erste dielektrische Schicht eingerichtet ist, um eine abnehmende Kopplung zwischen dem zweiten Übertragungssignal (ST2) und dem gegebenen umgebenden Medium mit abnehmendem Abstand von dem Leistungsteiler bereitzustellen.
     
    5. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach einem der Ansprüche 2 bis 4, wobei das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38) umfasst:

    einen Sondenleiter, der mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist; und

    eine zweite dielektrische Schicht, welche sich von der ersten dielektrischen Schicht unterscheidet, die in dem zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement enthalten ist, die den Sondenleiter zumindest teilweise umschließt.


     
    6. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 5, wobei die zweite dielektrische Schicht eingerichtet ist, um eine unterschiedliche Kopplung zwischen dem ersten Übertragungssignal (ST1) und einem gegebenen umgebenden Medium an unterschiedlichen Positionen entlang des ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements (38) bereitzustellen.
     
    7. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40) umfasst:

    einen Sondenleiter, der mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist; und

    einen Abschirmungsleiter, der von dem Sondenleiter beabstandet ist und sich entlang mindestens eines Abschnitts des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements erstreckt.


     
    8. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 7, wobei sich der Abschirmungsleiter entlang mindestens des Abschnitts des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements (40) beginnend von dem oberen Ende des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements erstreckt.
     
    9. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 8, wobei:

    das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen ersten Sondenleiter, der mit dem Leistungsteiler leitend verbunden ist, um das erste Übertragungssignal zu empfangen, und einen Abschirmungsleiter, der sich entlang mindestens eines Abschnitts des ersten Sondenleiters erstreckt, umfasst; und

    das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen zweiten Sondenleiter, der mit dem Leistungsteiler leitend verbunden ist, um das zweite Übertragungssignal zu empfangen, und den Abschirmungsleiter, der sich entlang mindestens eines Abschnitts des ersten Sondenleiters und des zweiten Sondenleiters erstreckt, umfasst.


     
    10. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 9, wobei der Abschirmungsleiter eingerichtet ist, um eine unterschiedliche Kopplung zwischen dem ersten Übertragungssignal und/oder dem zweiten Übertragungssignal und einem gegebenen umgebenden Medium an unterschiedlichen vertikalen Positionen in dem Tank bereitzustellen.
     
    11. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 10, wobei:

    das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen Sondenleiter umfasst, der mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist;

    das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen Sondenleiter umfasst, der mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist; und

    der Sondenleiter des ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements (38) mit dem Sondenleiter des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements (40) an dem unteren Ende des ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements und des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements leitend verbunden ist.


     
    12. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 11, wobei der Sondenleiter des ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements mit dem Sondenleiter des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements an dem unteren Ende des ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements und des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements durch eine Verzögerungsleitung (82) zum Erhöhen einer vorübergehenden Trennung zwischen dem ersten Reflexionssignal (SR1) und dem zweiten Reflexionssignal (SR2) leitend verbunden ist.
     
    13. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach Anspruch 11 oder 12, wobei das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen Abschirmungsleiter umfasst, der von dem Sondenleiter beabstandet ist und sich entlang mindestens eines Abschnitts des zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelements erstreckt.
     
    14. Radarfüllstandanzeigesystem (2) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 13, wobei das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement und das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement einen Verzögerungsabschnitt zum Erhöhen einer vorübergehenden Trennung zwischen dem ersten Reflexionssignal und dem zweiten Reflexionssignal umfasst/umfassen.
     
    15. Verfahren zum Bestimmen von Schnittstellenfüllständen in einem Tank, welcher eine geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung beinhaltet, die mindestens eine erste Substanz (12) mit einer ersten Dichte, eine zweite Substanz (14) mit einer zweiten Dichte, die größer ist als die erste Dichte, und eine dritte Substanz (16) mit einer dritten Dichte, die größer ist als die zweite Dichte, umfasst, unter Verwendung eines Radarfüllstandanzeigesystems (2), umfassend:

    einen Sendeempfänger (26);

    eine Durchführung (34), die mit dem Sendeempfänger verbunden ist;

    einen Leistungsteiler (36), der mit der Durchführung verbunden ist;

    ein erstes Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38), das mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist und eine erste durchschnittliche Dämpfung zur Signalausbreitung durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung bereitstellt;

    ein zweites Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40), das mit dem Leistungsteiler verbunden ist und eine zweite durchschnittliche Dämpfung, welche kleiner ist als die erste durchschnittliche Dämpfung, zur Signalausbreitung durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung bereitstellt; und

    eine Verarbeitungsschaltungsanordnung (28),

    wobei das Verfahren die Schritte umfasst zum:

    Erzeugen und Übertragen (101), durch den Sendeempfänger, eines elektromagnetischen Übertragungssignals (ST);

    Leiten, durch die Durchführung (34), des Übertragungssignals von außerhalb des Tanks in ein Inneres des Tanks;

    Teilen (102), durch den Leistungsteiler, einer Leistung, welche von dem Übertragungssignal getragen wird, in einen ersten Leistungsabschnitt, der von dem ersten Übertragungssignal (ST1) getragen wird, das dem ersten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement bereitgestellt wird, und einen zweiten Leistungsabschnitt, der von einem zweiten Übertragungssignal (ST2) getragen wird, das dem zweiten Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement bereitgestellt wird;

    Führen (103), durch das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38), des ersten Übertragungssignals (ST1) zumindest teilweise durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung;

    Führen (103), durch das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40), des zweiten Übertragungssignals (ST2) zumindest teilweise durch die geschichtete Substanzzusammensetzung;

    Zurückgeben (104), durch das erste Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (38), eines ersten Reflexionssignals (SR1), das sich aus einer Reflexion des ersten Übertragungssignals an jeglichen Impedanzdiskontinuitäten ergibt, auf welche es stößt;

    Zurückgeben (104), durch das zweite Übertragungsleitung-Sondenelement (40), eines zweiten Reflexionssignals (SR2), das sich aus einer Reflexion des zweiten Übertragungssignals an jeglichen Impedanzdiskontinuitäten ergibt, auf welche es stößt;

    Kombinieren (105), durch den Leistungsteiler (36), des ersten Reflexionssignals und des zweiten Reflexionssignals zu einem kombinierten Reflexionssignal (SR);

    Leiten, durch die Durchführung, des kombinierten Reflexionssignals zu dem Sendeempfänger;

    Empfangen, durch den Sendeempfänger (26), des kombinierten Reflexionssignals; und

    Bestimmen (108), durch die Verarbeitungsschaltungsanordnung (28), eines ersten Füllstands einer ersten Schnittstelle (20) zwischen der ersten Substanz und der zweiten Substanz sowie eines zweiten Füllstands einer zweiten Schnittstelle (22) zwischen der zweiten Substanz und der dritten Substanz basierend auf dem kombinierten Reflexionssignal.


     


    Revendications

    1. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) pour l'installation au niveau d'un réservoir (4) contenant une composition de substances stratifiées incluant au moins une première substance (12) ayant une première densité, une deuxième substance (14) ayant une deuxième densité supérieure à ladite première densité, et une troisième substance (16) ayant une troisième densité supérieure à ladite deuxième densité, afin de déterminer un premier niveau d'une première interface (20) entre ladite première substance et ladite deuxième substance, et un deuxième niveau d'une deuxième interface (22) entre ladite deuxième substance et ladite troisième substance, ledit système de jauge de niveau radar (2) comprenant :

    un émetteur-récepteur (26) pour générer et transmettre un signal de transmission électromagnétique (ST) et recevoir un signal de réflexion électromagnétique (SR) ;

    une traversée de réservoir (34) reliée audit émetteur-récepteur (26) ;

    un diviseur de puissance (36) relié à ladite traversée pour diviser la puissance, véhiculée par le signal de transmission (ST) à partir dudit émetteur-récepteur suite au passage du signal de transmission à travers ladite traversée, en une première partie de puissance véhiculée par un premier signal de transmission (ST1) et une deuxième partie de puissance véhiculée par un deuxième signal de transmission (ST2), et pour combiner un premier signal de réflexion (SR1) et un deuxième signal de réflexion (SR2) en le signal de réflexion (SR) reçu par ledit émetteur-récepteur ;

    un premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38) ayant une extrémité supérieure reliée audit diviseur de puissance et configuré pour recevoir la partie de puissance véhiculée par le premier signal de transmission de la part du diviseur de puissance et pour guider le premier signal de transmission (ST1) au moins partiellement à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées vers une extrémité inférieure dudit premier élément de sonde de transmission et pour renvoyer ledit premier signal de réflexion (SR1) résultant de la réflexion dudit premier signal de transmission au niveau de toutes discontinuités d'impédance ainsi rencontrées, ledit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38) étant configuré pour fournir une interaction entre ledit premier signal de transmission et ladite composition de substances stratifiées résultant en une première atténuation moyenne relativement grande dudit premier signal de transmission (ST1);

    un deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) ayant une extrémité supérieure reliée audit diviseur de puissance et configuré pour recevoir la partie de puissance véhiculée par le deuxième signal de transmission de la part du diviseur de puissance et pour guider ledit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) au moins partiellement à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées vers une extrémité inférieure dudit deuxième élément de sonde de transmission et pour renvoyer ledit deuxième signal de réflexion (SR2) résultant de la réflexion dudit deuxième signal de transmission au niveau de toutes discontinuités d'impédance ainsi rencontrées, ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) étant configuré pour fournir une interaction entre ledit deuxième signal de transmission et ladite composition de substances stratifiées résultant en une deuxième atténuation moyenne relativement grande dudit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2), ladite deuxième atténuation moyenne étant inférieure à ladite première atténuation moyenne ;

    un circuit de formation de signal de mesure (64) relié audit émetteur-récepteur pour former un signal de mesure sur la base dudit signal de réflexion (SR) et d'une relation de temporisation entre ledit signal de transmission (ST) et ledit signal de réflexion (SR), ledit signal de mesure comprenant un premier ensemble d'indicateurs d'écho indiquant une réflexion dudit premier signal de transmission (ST1)au niveau de discontinuités d'impédance rencontrées par ledit premier signal de transmission, et un deuxième ensemble d'indicateurs d'écho indiquant une réflexion dudit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) au niveau de discontinuités d'impédance rencontrées par ledit deuxième signal de transmission ; et

    un circuit de détermination de niveau (68) pour déterminer ledit premier niveau sur la base d'au moins un indicateur d'écho dudit premier ensemble d'indicateurs d'écho, et déterminer ledit deuxième niveau sur la base d'au moins un indicateur d'écho dudit deuxième ensemble d'indicateurs d'écho.


     
    2. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) comprend :

    un conducteur de sonde (46) relié audit diviseur de puissance ; et

    une première couche diélectrique entourant au moins partiellement ledit conducteur de sonde.


     
    3. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel ladite première couche diélectrique est configurée pour fournir différents couplages entre ledit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) et un milieu environnant donné dans différentes positions le long dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne transmission (40).
     
    4. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 3, dans lequel ladite première couche diélectrique est configurée pour fournir un couplage décroissant entre ledit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) et ledit milieu environnant donné avec l'augmentation de la distance par rapport audit diviseur de puissance.
     
    5. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 2 à 4, dans lequel ledit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38) comprend :

    un conducteur de sonde relié audit diviseur de puissance ; et

    une deuxième couche diélectrique, différente de la première couche diélectrique comprise dans ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission, entourant au moins partiellement ledit conducteur de sonde.


     
    6. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel ladite deuxième couche diélectrique est configurée pour fournir différents couplages entre ledit premier signal de transmission (ST1) et un milieu environnant donné dans différentes positions le long dudit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38).
     
    7. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans lequel ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) comprend :

    un conducteur de sonde relié audit diviseur de puissance ; et

    un conducteur de blindage espacé par rapport audit conducteur de sonde et s'étendant le long d'au moins une partie dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission.


     
    8. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 7, dans lequel ledit conducteur de blindage s'étend le long d'au moins ladite partie dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) en partant de l'extrémité supérieure dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission.
     
    9. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 8, dans lequel :

    ledit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend un premier conducteur de sonde relié de manière conductrice audit diviseur de puissance pour recevoir ledit premier signal de transmission, et un conducteur de blindage s'étendant le long d'au moins une partie dudit premier conducteur de sonde ; et

    ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend un deuxième conducteur de sonde relié de manière conductrice audit diviseur de puissance pour recevoir ledit deuxième signal de transmission, et ledit conducteur de blindage s'étendant le long d'au moins une partie dudit premier conducteur de sonde et dudit deuxième conducteur de sonde.


     
    10. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 9, dans lequel ledit conducteur de blindage est configuré pour fournir différents couplages entre au moins l'un parmi ledit premier signal de transmission et ledit deuxième signal de transmission, et un milieu environnant donné dans différentes positions verticales dans ledit réservoir.
     
    11. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 10, dans lequel :

    ledit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend un conducteur de sonde relié audit diviseur de puissance ;

    ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend un conducteur de sonde relié audit diviseur de puissance ; et

    le conducteur de sonde dudit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38) est relié de manière conductrice au conducteur de sonde dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) aux extrémités inférieures dudit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission et dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission.


     
    12. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 11, dans lequel le conducteur de sonde dudit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission est relié de manière conductrice au conducteur de sonde dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission aux extrémités inférieures dudit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission et dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission via une ligne à retard (82) pour augmenter une séparation temporelle entre ledit premier signal de réflexion (SR1) et ledit deuxième signal de réflexion (SR2) .
     
    13. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon la revendication 11 ou 12, dans lequel ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend un conducteur de blindage espacé par rapport audit conducteur de sonde et s'étendant le long d'au moins une partie dudit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission.
     
    14. Système de jauge de niveau radar (2) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 13, dans lequel au moins l'un parmi ledit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission et ledit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission comprend une partie à retard pour augmenter une séparation temporelle entre ledit premier signal de réflexion et ledit deuxième signal de réflexion.
     
    15. Procédé pour déterminer des niveaux d'interface dans un réservoir contenant une composition de substances stratifiées incluant au moins une première substance (12) ayant une première densité, une deuxième substance (14) ayant une deuxième densité supérieure à ladite première densité, et une troisième substance (16) ayant une troisième densité supérieure à ladite deuxième densité, en utilisant un système de jauge de niveau radar (2) comprenant :

    un émetteur-récepteur (26) ;

    une traversée (34) reliée audit émetteur-récepteur ;

    un diviseur de puissance (36) relié à ladite traversée ;

    un premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38) relié audit diviseur de puissance et fournissant une première atténuation moyenne pour une propagation de signal à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées ;

    un deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40) relié audit diviseur de puissance et fournissant une deuxième atténuation moyenne, inférieure à ladite première atténuation moyenne, pour une propagation de signal à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées ; et

    un circuit de traitement (28),

    ledit procédé comprenant les étapes suivantes :

    générer et transmettre (101), grâce audit émetteur-récepteur, un signal de transmission électromagnétique (ST) ;

    faire passer, grâce à ladite traversée (34), ledit signal de transmission de l'extérieur dudit réservoir vers un intérieur dudit réservoir ;

    diviser (102), grâce audit diviseur de puissance, une puissance véhiculée par ledit signal de transmission en une première partie de puissance véhiculée par un premier signal de transmission (ST1) qui est fourni au premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission et en une deuxième partie de puissance véhiculée par un deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) qui est fourni au deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission ;

    guider (103), grâce audit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38), ledit premier signal de transmission (ST1)au moins partiellement à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées ;

    guider (103), grâce audit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40), ledit deuxième signal de transmission (ST2) au moins partiellement à travers ladite composition de substances stratifiées ;

    renvoyer (104), grâce audit premier élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (38), un premier signal de réflexion (SR1) résultant d'une réflexion dudit premier signal de transmission au niveau de toutes discontinuités d'impédance ainsi rencontrées ;

    renvoyer (104), grâce audit deuxième élément de sonde à ligne de transmission (40), un deuxième signal de réflexion (SR2) résultant d'une réflexion dudit deuxième signal de transmission au niveau de toutes discontinuités d'impédance ainsi rencontrées ;

    combiner (105), grâce audit diviseur de puissance (36), ledit premier signal de réflexion et ledit deuxième signal de réflexion en un signal de réflexion combiné (SR) ;

    faire passer, grâce à ladite traversée, ledit signal de réflexion combiné vers ledit émetteur-récepteur ;

    recevoir, par ledit émetteur-récepteur (26), ledit signal de réflexion combiné ; et

    déterminer (108), grâce audit circuit de traitement (28), un premier niveau d'une première interface (20) entre ladite première substance et ladite deuxième substance, et d'un deuxième niveau d'une deuxième interface (22) entre ladite deuxième substance et ladite troisième substance sur la base dudit signal de réflexion combiné.


     




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    Cited references

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    Patent documents cited in the description