VEGAWELL 52 measures groundwater with ease

Pots and vases do not come to mind when we measure groundwater levels. The VEGAWELL 52 and its ceramic measuring cell seek to change your mind.

Pots and vases do not come to mind when we measure groundwater levels. The VEGAWELL 52 and its ceramic measuring cell seek to change your mind.

“The ceramic measuring cell is the beating heart of the VEGAWELL 52,” said Tony Scarborough, New South Wales Business Development Manager for VEGA Australia. Scarborough spoke about how the VEGAWELL 52 can impact industries across the country.

The device is a hydrostatic submersible level sensor. The measuring cell detects minute changes in hydrostatic pressure. The pressure increases or decreases depending on the filling level in the vessel. That pressure is converted into an output signal by the integrated electronics. Ceramic-capacitive and metallic measuring cells are used to detect the pressure in hydrostatic pressure measurement.

Scarborough said that the VEGAWELL 52 could also measure temperature, is unaffected by foaming, and is infinitely adaptable to different container sizes.

“The ceramic measuring cell measures the pressure created by the water above it. That is called the height or head of water. In fairness, it can measure any liquid in which the VEGAWELL 52 is submersed; there are no limits to what it can do,” said Scarborough.

The ceramic cell is designed for long-term use and minimal maintenance. They are constantly compensating for changes in atmospheric pressure using a breather tube that goes from the end of the cable to the back of the cell.

“That way, any changes in atmospheric pressure can be accounted for. Users can also electronically zero the sensor, so there is always a consistent pressure measurement,” said Scarborough.

Advantages of ceramic measuring cell

One of the major benefits of ceramics is that they are inert substances. Generally, they do not react with anything else.

“The ceramic measuring cells are highly resistant to corrosion and chemicals,” said Scarborough. “Given the potential for large amounts of contaminants and the wide range of granules of other materials, it means that the ceramic measuring cell will last longer than other measuring cells.”

The ceramic measuring cell is also designed with a higher overpressure limit. Most products are built to handle three to four times the maximum pressure without compromising the device. The VEGAWELL 52 can manage more than 200 times the overpressure.

How the VEGAWELL 52 works with other systems

The VEGAWELL 52 has been used on several underground road tunnels, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. Of note is the role that the VEGAWELL 52 has played in the NorthConnex project in Sydney.

“The VEGAWELL 52 is intrinsically safe, as it can manage the potential for toxic and combustible fumes. This is always an issue for underground road tunnels,” said Scarborough. “That is because they run parallel to the roadway and operate underground.”

The unit integrates with other devices to manage water levels throughout any system. When looking at groundwater management in a project like NorthConnex, each VEGAWELL 52 is connected to a sump, traditionally above a ventilation shaft of up to 600 metres in length. These shafts are drilled parallel to the road itself. The sumps are all connected to a water treatment plant at one end of the underground road.

“Water levels can be monitored to operate the pumps by measuring the water collected in these shafts. For example, the pumps may wait to turn on when the level in the collection sump reaches 50 per cent. The pumps may remove water until the sump reaches 25 per cent,” said Scarborough.

Traditionally, the VEGAWELL 52 functions through a controller supplied by VEGA Australia. In the earlier stages, the controller was an on/off switch with a couple of relays connected to the unit. More commonly, the VEGAWELL 52 is connected to a programmable logic controller (PLC). The most common controller is the VEGAMET 391, optimised for the water and wastewater industries.

What makes VEGAWELL 52 better?

The cable used in the VEGAWELL 52 is designed for long-term use and low maintenance. The cable is made of PTFE, which is a derivative of Teflon. It is designed for chemical resistance and flexibility, making it suitable for any groundwater situation.

“We also sew Kevlar strands through the sheathing of the cable,” said Scarborough. “That gives the cable excellent tensile strength, particularly regarding deep bore level measurement.”

Scarborough also highlighted the importance of built-in over-voltage protection in the VEGAWELL 52. This is in case of lightning strikes or voltage surges.

“This is more common than people may think,” said Scarborough. “The VEGAWELL 52 is traditionally submerged in a liquid or water. The potential for one to be struck by lightning depends on where it is deployed. This is most common for above-ground water reservoirs. It does not happen as often, given that most reservoirs are closed to the open air. However, it can happen for open-air water dam level measurements.

It’s not just about the groundwater

While the VEGAWELL 52 is good for groundwater, it has many functions across multiple fields.

“As long as it is submerged in some water, it is doing its job measuring water levels,” said Scarborough. “It could be used in ponds, lagoons, or basins. I know that some clients use it for rainwater harvesting, river levels and managing sewage levels. The applications continue to grow as users explore its functionality.”

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