Noninvasive measuring equipment provider Ultimo said its density meter offers an alternative to nuclear-based densitometers for applications in which the metered material is abrasive, caustic or has high solids content, and where the regulatory environment associated with nuclear is burdensome. The Rhode Island, USA-based company said trial units have been evaluated and purchased by some of the world's largest mining companies with the intention of qualifying as a replacement for legacy nuclear densitometers.

Ultimo claims that, prior to the emergence of the Ultimo device, nuclear densitometers were the only solution for noninvasive operations in the above applications. And, the company noted, trials have highlighted the inherent instability of nuclear due to the continuous decline of the strength of the nuclear source material and their use of analog-based electronics. These factors cause a recurring need for sample taking and recalibrations. This, along with the administrative cost of maintaining nuclear licenses, can boost the accumulated costs of nuclear densitometers to multiples of their original cost.

The Ultimo Density Meter Version 4.1 is a noninvasive device that is designed to be able to measure the density and viscosity of material inside a pipe based on the oscillations at the pipe wall. A measurement is generated every 5 seconds by executing certain real-time mathematical procedures using Ultimo proprietary software.

A report provided by the company presented the findings of a plant trial at an unnamed customer site comparing the functionality of the non-nuclear Ultimo density meter to that of an existing nuclear density meter.

A total of 15,690 data points was collected over more than a five-month period. The results, according to the report provided by Ultimo, suggested that the variance between the nuclear device and non-nuclear Ultimo was in the range of [-3.9, 4]. The average variance was 0.6% solids. In addition, the dried Marcy (manual grab sample) based comparisons revealed an average variance of 0.3% between the nuclear device and Marcy readings as well as 0.1% between the Ultimo and Marcy readings. Thus, the company stated, it can be concluded that readings from the two device were both very close to the manual grab data.

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