October 2007

Special Report: Process Control and Information Systems

Intrinsically safe fieldbus for hydrocarbon processing plants

The key issue is delivering enough power to a large number of field devices

O'Neill, M., MooreHawke Fieldbus

For about the past 30 years, it has been a "given" within the oil and gas industry that intrinsic safety (IS) is the natural technique for explosion protection of electronic instrumentation in hazardous locations. IS design permits instruments to be opened and adjusted under power, and electronic designers can make conventional two-wire 4-20 mA units intrinsically safe without too much difficulty. On the other hand, fieldbus users now want complex processing and digital communications to and from many devices interconnected in the plant. High power and multiple connections are major issues for intrinsically safe designs, so IS fieldbus has become a particularly aggravating problem. The pri

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