New Ultrasonic Solutions for Existing Challenges: The Portatank® Ultrasonic Tank Liquid Level Indicator

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A new British invention, following the co-location of our Physicists and Scientists at Durham University, a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, Coltraco Ultrasonics’ portable Portatank® handheld ultrasonic tank liquid level sensor allows its user to non-invasively measure the liquid level in tanks as small as 0.5 metres to 15+ metres through the tank’s external side walls.

This has never been achieved before, and differentiates the Portatank® from conventional ultrasonic liquid level sensors for tanks, which need to be inserted from the tank top and perform their level measurement top-down.

The non-invasive, non-destructive nature of the Portatank®, with no drilling or tank opening required prior to operation, eliminates any downtime to the tank, whilst saving labour costs, and minimising risk to personnel. The compact, handheld ergonomics of the Portatank® allow a single operator to measure the liquid level across multiple tanks on the same site, with no installation costs, minimal training and no mechanical equipment necessary to move the Portatank® between sites.

This makes the Portatank® a complementary instrument to integrate alongside tanks with built-in fixed liquid level sensors, in order to periodically verify the accuracy of their measurements, and a suitable “interim” instrument for detecting liquid level in tanks undergoing maintenance or re-fitting of their built-in level sensors.The Portatank® works on tanks with different wall materials, whether metal, plastic, glass, or other, and different wall thicknesses from 0.5mm to 20mm. The Portatank® is accurate to +/-10%, making it a more accurate replacement to traditional non-ultrasonic level sensors such as sight glasses or float level gauges without needing to make any changes to the tank.

With single LED light indication for a clear YES/NO indication of liquid, and advanced diagnostics available through a supplementary handheld oscilloscope which is included with each instrument for calibrating the sensor to the tank being tested for maximum accuracy and to assist in troubleshooting, the Portatank® is well suited to a wide range of applications, on virtually all types of liquids. Portatank® units have acted as ultrasonic water level sensors in water tanks, ultrasonic liquid level sensors to test oil levels in transformers and ring main units, and ultrasonic level sensors to test large clean agent fire suppression cylinders.

The Portatank® sensor is only about 25mm wide, and therefore the Portatank® is capable of working on complicated structures such as transformers that may be filled with internal structures of various shapes, by testing on a sector of the tank closer to the edges where the user is able to obtain a clear pathway of ultrasound transmission through the tank.

The Portatank® has been successfully used to detect oil levels in several transformers and ring main units (RMUs) in 2 Yorkshire switchgear distribution boxes at one of the UAE’s largest public service infrastructure companies. The oil tanks contained in the switchgear distribution boxes were approximately 35cm – 40cm in length and width.

During the test, the built-in mechanical level indicator indicated that the tank was full, while the result from the Portatank® identified the oil level about 7cm below the tank level shown by the float gauge.

The oil level found with the Portatank® was later verified using a dip stick. The dip stick measurement was exactly the same as the level accurately identified using the Portatank®. This was able to showcase the limitations of built-in mechanical liquid level indicators and how the Portatank® is an accurate and reliable instrument for non-invasively detecting oil levels.

With a team of dedicated Physicists, Scientists and R&D experts, a vast network of Global Distributers and Strategic Partners, and a lifetime of after sales support, Coltraco Ultrasonics will support you with even the most challenging applications, throughout the lifetime of the Portatank® unit.

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Coltraco Ultrasonics
NETPark Research Institute
Joseph Swan Road
TS21 3FB

United Kingdom


Monday - Friday (excluding bank holidays) from 8:30am to 6:00pm, UK.

Tel (Sales & HQ): +44 20 7629 8475
Tel (Technical): +44 1740 618 240