The Portatank® Ultrasonic Tank Liquid Level Indicator – A New Method of Ultrasonic Tank Liquid Level Location

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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’ Portatank® handheld ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator allows its user to non-invasively measure the liquid level in their tanks ranging between 0.5m and 5m in diameter through the tank’s external side walls. This has never been achieved before, and distinguishes the Portatank® from conventional ultrasonic tank liquid level indicators, which need to be inserted from the tank top and perform their level measurement top-down.

The Portatank® ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator is available for exporting globally now, and is:

  1. The ideal instrument to locate liquid levels in tanks which do not have existing liquid level sensors
  2. Accurate to +/-10%, making it a more accurate replacement to traditional level gauges such as sight glasses or float level gauges, that does not require any modifications to the tank prior to use
  3. A complementary instrument to integrate alongside tanks with built-in fixed liquid level sensors, in order to periodically verify the accuracy of their measurements
  4. A suitable “interim” instrument for detecting liquid level in tanks undergoing maintenance or re-fitting of their built-in level sensors

How does the Portatank® Ultrasonic Tank Liquid Level Indicator work?

The Portatank® ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator uses ultrasonic level sensors to identify a tank’s liquid level. The main unit sends a strong electrical signal to the ultrasonic sensor, which then emits a high energy pulse of ultrasound waves (sound waves with frequencies above the upper range of human hearing) into the tank wall.

This ultrasound is then conducted through the solid walls of the tank and interacts with its contents. Once the sensor stops emitting ultrasound, it listens for the returning echoes of the signal. If liquid is present, the echoes will return to the main unit, and the Portatank® will react accordingly through a clear YES / NO indication of liquid via the instrumental’s LED light indicator. This process allows the Portatank® to detect the presence or absence of liquid behind the area of the container wall where the sensor is placed.The Portatank® Ultrasonic Tank Liquid Level Indicator: A Better-Faster-Cheaper Alternative to Conventional Ultrasonic Level Sensors

The Portatank® ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator is better-faster-cheaper when compared to traditional ultrasonic liquid level transducers:

  • Better – The Portatank® ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator is non-invasive, non-destructive, and non-disruptive, with no risk to personnel or the tank during use, as no drilling into or opening of the tank is required. The Portatank® is capable of liquid level measurement on tanks as small as 0.5 metres to 15+ metres. Our ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator works on tanks with different wall materials, such as metals, plastics, and glass, and thicknesses ranging from 0.5mm to 20mm. Not just limited to being an ultrasonic water tank level sensor, the Portatank® works on virtually all types of liquids.
  • Faster – The Portatank® quickly locates liquid levels through the side walls of tanks, in comparison to traditional ultrasonic tank level transducers which need to be inserted from the tank top and perform their level measurement top-down, allowing our ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator to often be in situ more quickly than conventional ultrasonic tank liquid level indicators. Furthermore, the non-invasive nature of the Portatank® with no drilling or tank opening required prior to operation, eliminates any downtime to the tank, whilst also saving labour costs, and minimising risk.
  • Cheaper – 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.

In addition, the Portatank® includes an oscilloscope for making advanced diagnostics, calibrating the ultrasonic level sensor to the tank being tested for maximum accuracy, and assisting in troubleshooting. This gives you the confidence that our ultrasonic tank liquid level indicator will provide a reliable measurement.The Yorkshire Switchgear Distribution Box: A Case Study for Application of The Portatank®

The Portatank® has been successfully used to detect oil levels in several transformers and ring main units (RMUs) at the Yorkshire switchgear distribution box. The oil tanks contained in the switchgear distribution box 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.

Delivering Coltraco Ultrasonics’ Vision of the Safesite™ and Safeship™: The Portatank® and Power Generation Companies

The Portatank® is currently in use with multiple Power Generation companies around the world to locate oil levels in Single-Phase and Three-Phase transformers with differing kVA ratings between 19.9 and 100 kVA (the amount of voltage that the transformer can handle).

When a transformer is opened, there is a risk of introducing oxygen into the structure. If the transformer’s oil levels are depleted, there is a potential for combustion to occur with the mixing of oxygen due to the excessive amount of heat generated by the transformers themselves in the absence of oil which cools and insulates the structure.

Due to the non-invasive nature of liquid level measurement when using the Portatank®, these transformers can remain “live” during testing, eliminating the dangerous process of having to open the transformer.

By facilitating the better-faster-cheaper measurement of tank liquid level, the Portatank® allows its users to go above and beyond existing safety regulations, complementing fixed, built-in tank liquid level sensors, replacing less accurate traditional level gauges such as sight glasses or float level gauges, and offering an alternative to conventional ultrasonic tank liquid level indicators, delivering our vision of the Safesite™ on land and the Safeship™ at sea. Customers and personnel alike will be better for it.

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Come say hello at our Technical Laboratory.

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