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Exercise 4-3

Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation

EXERCISE OBJECTIVE In this exercise, you will learn the effect that mounting a pressure transmitter
above or below the reference level has on the hydrostatic pressure sensed by
this element. You will also learn how zero suppression and zero elevation can be
achieved.

DISCUSSION OUTLINE The Discussion of this exercise covers the following points:

 Range with an elevated or suppressed zero

 Suppressed-zero range
 Elevated-zero range

As mentioned in Ex. 4-2, hydrostatic pressure measurement allows the level of

liquid in a vessel to be inferred. In many applications, the reference level is at the
bottom of the vessel. However, it may be impossible to position the primary
sensing element of the pressure transmitter at exactly the same height as the
reference level. For example, if the vessel is an elevated water storage tank, it
may be better for maintenance reasons to position the transmitter below the tank.
If, instead of an elevated tank, it is an underground tank, the transmitter must be
positioned above the bottom of the tank. In either case, the transmitter is not at
the same level as the bottom of the vessel. This difference between the
reference level and the position of the transmitter must be compensated for by
setting a suppressed-zero range or an elevated-zero range (also known as zero
elevation and zero suppression respectively). The suppressed-zero range and
the elevated-zero range are frequently confused or misunderstood. Many
alternative terms are used to describe these two ranges. These terms only tend
to further confuse the distinction between the two types of ranges and you should
avoid using them.

Suppressed-zero range

By definition, a suppressed-zero range is a range where the value of the

measured variable zero is less than the lower-range value. That is, the zero does
not appear on the scale. For example, if the differential-pressure transmitter
reads 30% when the measured variable (i.e., the level) is zero, the range is a
suppressed-zero range. A suppressed-zero range is required if the pressure
transmitter used to measure a gauge pressure is installed under the high-
pressure tap of the vessel as Figure 4-12 shows.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Discussion

High-pressure tap

Minimum measurable level

Open to
atmosphere

Figure 4-12. Set up where a transmitter is installed below the high-pressure tap.

Be careful. In many installa- If a pressure transmitter is installed under the high-pressure tap of the vessel, the
tions, the fluid in the im- fluid in the impulse line exerts a pressure on the transmitter sensor when the
pulse line is not the process vessel is empty. Thus, even if the vessel is empty, the transmitter still reads a
fluid, thus its density may positive pressure. This pressure is constant and always present since the
differ from the density of the impulse line always stays filled. To compensate for this extra pressure, the
process fluid. transmitter must be set so that the extra pressure is suppressed. The pressure
due to the liquid in the impulse line is proportional to the distance h between the
transmitter and the vessel high-pressure tap as Figure 4-12 shows. This pressure
also depends on the density of the fluid in the impulse line.

Mathematically, the pressure on the primary element of the differential-pressure

transmitter when the vessel is empty is:

ܲா௠௣௧௬ ൌ ߩ௙ ݄݃ (4-2)

where ܲா௠௣௧௬ is the pressure that exerts the fluid in the impulse line on the
transmitter sensor
ߩ௙ is the density of the fluid in the impulse line
݃ is the acceleration due to gravity
݄ is the distance between the transmitter and the high-pressure
tap of the vessel

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Discussion

When the vessel is full, the pressure that the column of fluid exerts at the high-
pressure tap of the vessel depends on the distance H100% between the tap and
the surface of the fluid. This pressure determines the span of the level
measurement. The level is at 0% of the span when it is at the high-pressure tap
of the vessel and it is at 100% span when it is at a distance H100% of the high-
pressure tap. The static pressure that the fluid exerts at the high-pressure tap of
the vessel when the level is at 100% of the span is:

ܲி௨௟௟ ൌ ߩ௣ ݃‫ܪ‬ଵ଴଴Ψ (4-3)

where ܲி௨௟௟ is the static that the fluid exerts at the high-pressure tap when
the level is at 100% of the span
ߩ௣ is the density of the fluid in vessel
݃ is the acceleration due to gravity
‫ܪ‬ଵ଴଴Ψ is the distance between the high-pressure tap of the vessel and
the surface of the fluid when the level is at 100% of the span

To infer the level in a vessel from a pressure measurement, the differential-

pressure transmitter must be connected as Figure 4-12 shows. With such a
connection, the pressure at the low-pressure port of the transmitter is the
atmospheric pressure ܲ଴ :

ܲ௅௢௪ ൌ ܲ଴ (4-4)

The pressure at the high-pressure port of the transmitter is the sum of the static
pressure due to the height of fluid above the high-pressure tap of the vessel, the
pressure due to the fluid in the impulse line, and the atmospheric pressure.
Equation (4-5) gives the pressure at the high-pressure port (‫ ܪ‬is the measured
level).

Other names for sup- ܲு௜௚௛ ൌ ߩ௙ ݄݃ ൅ ߩ௣ ݃‫ ܪ‬൅ ܲ଴ (4-5)

pressed-zero range: zero
suppression, elevation,
Therefore, the differential pressure read by the differential-pressure transmitter
elevated range, elevated
span.
is:

οܲ ൌ ܲு௜௚௛ െ ܲ௅௢௪ ൌ ߩ௙ ݄݃ ൅ ߩ௣ ݃‫ܪ‬ (4-6)

It is clear from Equation (4-6) that the pressure due to the fluid in the impulse line
must be suppressed to obtain the level of liquid from the differential pressure
read by the transmitter. On modern equipment, this extra pressure is usually
suppressed by setting the zero of the high-pressure port of the transmitter when
the transmitter is in position and the impulse line is full of fluid.

Elevated-zero range

By definition, an elevated-zero range is a range where the value of the

measured variable zero is greater than the lower-range value. An elevated-zero
range is required if the pressure transmitter used to measure a gauge pressure is
installed above the high-pressure tap of the vessel. In this case, the transmitter
may read, for example, -30% when the level is zero. An elevated-zero range is
also required if a differential-pressure transmitter is used to measure the level in

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Discussion

a pressurized tank. Figure 4-13 shows a case where an elevated-zero range is

required.
Atmospheric
pressure

Open to
atmosphere

Minimum
High-pressure tap
measurable level

Figure 4-13. Set up where an elevated-zero range is required.

Other names for elevated- When an elevated-zero range is required, the pressure transmitter reads a
zero range: zero elevation, negative pressure when the vessel is empty. Depending on the set up, this
suppression, suppressed negative pressure is caused by the liquid in the impulse line or by a pressure on
range, suppressed span. the low-pressure port of the transmitter that is higher than the pressure on the
high-pressure port of the transmitter (ܲ௅௢௪ ൐ ܲு௜௚௛ ). To compensate for this
negative pressure, the transmitter must be set so that the differential-pressure
transmitter reads a pressure differential of zero if the vessel is empty. In other
words, the zero must be elevated.

For an installation where an elevated-zero range is required, such as with the set
up shown in Figure 4-13, the pressure at the low-pressure port of the transmitter
is proportional to the height ݄. The negative pressure due to the zero elevation is
expressed as:

ܲ௘௟௘௩௔௧௜௢௡ ൌ െߩ௙ ݄݃ (4-7)

The static pressure exerted by the fluid at the high-pressure tap of the vessel
when the level is at 100% of the span isǣ

οܲ ൌ െߩ௙ ݄݃ ൅ ߩ௣ ݃‫ܪ‬ (4-9)

To compensate for the negative pressure that the fluid in the impulse line exerts,
the zero of the differential-pressure transmitter must be set so that the pressure
differential is zero when the vessel is empty.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Procedure Outline

 Set up and connections

 Purging the air from the bottom hose (column pressurization)
 Transmitter calibration
 Effect of lowering the transmitter on the measurable level range
 Zero suppression
 End of the exercise

PROCEDURE Set up and connections

This exercise can also be accomplished using the optional industrial differential-
pressure transmitter (Model 46929). Should you choose this piece of equipment,
refer to Appendix I for instructions on how to install and use the transmitter for
level measurements.

1. Set up the system shown in Figure 4-14.

x Mount the DP transmitter so that the pressure ports are one row of
perforations above the bottom of the column, and at least four rows of
perforations above the bottom of the expanding work surface.
x Connect the rotameter outlet to the port of the column on which a pipe
extends down into the column.
x Make sure the top cap of the column is tightened firmly.

a The column is first operated in the pressurized mode in order to purge air from
the hose connecting the bottom of the column to the pumping unit. Failure to
purge air from this hose can prevent the water in the column from decreasing
below a certain level when the pump speed is decreased or the pump is
stopped.

Plug

Plug

Figure 4-14. Zero-suppression application.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Procedure

2. Make sure the reservoir of the pumping unit is filled with about 12 liters
(3.2 gallons) of water. Make sure the baffle plate is properly installed at the
bottom of the reservoir.

3. On the pumping unit, adjust pump valves HV1 to HV3 as follows:

x Open HV1 completely.
x Close HV2 completely.
x Set HV3 for directing the full reservoir flow to the pump inlet.

Purging the air from the bottom hose (column pressurization)

5. Make the pump rotate at maximum speed. This causes the water level to rise
in the column.

6. Close valve HV1 completely. This causes the water level to rise further in the
column.

7. Bleed the high-pressure port of the DP transmitter.

8. Stop the pump. This causes part of the water in the column to siphon back
out.

9. Remove the plug connected to the hose port at the top of the column.
Connect this port to either of the auxiliary return ports of the pumping unit
using an extra-long hose. This hose serves as an overflow if the column gets
full. It also allows the column to be open to atmosphere through the reservoir
of the pumping unit.

10. Set the pump speed to 50% to make the water level rise about halfway up
the column. Then, open valve HV1 completely. The level should remain
relatively stable.

Transmitter calibration

In steps 11 through 17, you will adjust the ZERO and SPAN knobs of the DP
transmitter so that its output current varies between 4 mA and 20 mA when the
level of the water in the column is varied between 5 cm and 55 cm (2 in
and 22 in).

11. Connect a multimeter to the 4-20 mA output of the DP transmitter.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Procedure

12. Make the following settings on the DP transmitter:

x LOW PASS FILTER switch: I (ON)

13. Adjust the pump speed until the water level is stable at 5 cm (2 in) in the
column. This is the reference level.

a To prevent air from entering the hose that connects the bottom of the column
to the pumping unit, do not allow the water level to fall below 4 cm (1.5 in) in
the column throughout the exercise.

14. While observing the multimeter reading, turn the ZERO adjustment knob of
the DP transmitter counterclockwise to decrease the current and stop turning
it as soon as the multimeter reads 4.00 mA.

15. Readjust the pump speed to raise and stabilize the water level to 55 cm
(22 in) in the column.

16. Adjust the SPAN knob of the DP transmitter until the multimeter

17. Due to interaction between the ZERO and SPAN adjustments, repeat
steps 13 through 16 until the DP transmitter output actually varies
between 4.00 mA and 20.0 mA when the level of the water is varied
between 5 cm and 55 cm (2 in and 22 in).

Effect of lowering the transmitter on the measurable level range

18. Now that the DP transmitter is calibrated, lower its mounting so that the
pressure ports are approximately 3 rows of perforations below the bottom of
the column. While doing this, be careful not to modify the setting of the ZERO

19. By varying the pump speed, raise the water level in the column from 5 cm
to 55 cm by steps of 5 cm (or from 2 in to 22 in by steps of 2 in). After each
new level setting, measure the analog output generated by the DP
transmitter and record it in Table 4-3.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Procedure

Table 4-3. DP transmitter output as a function of the level without zero suppression.

Level Analog output Analog output

cm (in) without zero suppression with zero suppression
mA mA
5 (2)
10 (4)
15 (6)
20 (8)
25 (10)
30 (12)
35 (14)
40 (16)
45 (18)
50 (20)
55 (22)

20. Using Table 4-3, plot the relationship between the analog output and the
level without zero suppression.

21. From the curve obtained, can the measurable level range for which the DP
transmitter was initially calibrated [5 to 55 cm (2 to 22 in)] still be obtained?
Explain.

Zero suppression

22. Recalibrate the DP transmitter so as to take account of the depression of its

sensing element with respect to the reference level of 5 cm (2 in). To do so,
redo procedure steps 11 through 17.

23. Vary the pump speed to raise the water level from 5 cm to 55 cm by steps
of 5 cm (or from 2 in to 22 in by steps of 2 in). After each new level setting,
measure the analog output generated by the DP transmitter and record it in
Table 4-3.

24. Using Table 4-3, plot the relationship between the analog output and the
level with zero suppression on the graph of step 19.

25. Stop the pump and turn off the pumping unit.

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Conclusion

26. Has zero suppression reestablished the measurable level range for which the
DP transmitter was initially calibrated [5 to 55 cm (2 to 22 in)]? Explain.

End of the exercise

27. Disconnect the circuit. Return the components and hoses to their storage
location.

28. Wipe off any water from the floor and the training system.

CONCLUSION In this exercise, you calibrated the DP transmitter in order to measure a specific
level range in the open column. Then, you lowered the mounting of the DP
transmitter with respect to the reference level. This caused the lower portion of
the transmitter output range to become useless and the upper portion of the
initial measurable range to become undetectable.

You then performed zero suppression by recalibrating the DP transmitter so as to

take account of the lower transmitter position. This allowed the proper
measurement of the entire initial level range.

REVIEW QUESTIONS 1. In applications where the level of liquid in a vessel is inferred using
hydrostatic pressure measurement, what effect does mounting the primary
sensing element of the pressure transmitter below the reference level have
on the pressure sensed by this element?

3. If the primary sensing element of the pressure transmitter is lowered with

respect to the reference level and the transmitter is not recalibrated
accordingly, what happens to the measurable level range?

Ex. 4-3 – Zero Suppression and Zero Elevation  Review Questions

4. In applications where the level of liquid in the vessel cannot be seen and the
primary sensing element of the pressure transmitter is located below the
reference level, how can zero suppression of the transmitter output be
achieved?

5. In applications where the level of liquid in the vessel can be seen and
measured directly on a calibrated scale, as in the case of the column of the
training system, how can zero suppression be achieved?