Radiometric process control for the potash industry

Do you need precise and reliable data on your potassium concentration? We will explain how Berthold Technologies can help you with their sophisticated potassium analyzer solutions. Sensitive, accurate, and robust even in harsh environments.

The conditions in the factories of the potash industry are known to be rough and extreme. Especially permanently mounted measuring devices are continuously exposed to these conditions. Not only dust and dirt can impair or damage measuring instruments, but also the highly alkaline and abrasive suspensions can drastically reduce the operating time of sensitive gauges or even exclude entire measuring techniques.

Therefore, robust, and yet highly accurate online measurement systems are required, which deliver reliable and repeatable results. Berthold’s radiometric measurement systems for the potash industry meet all those expectations since the instruments are built to work non-contacting and non-invasive. Thus, they are immune to the conditions prevailing in the factories. Moreover, maintenance and costly downtime can be practically avoided. Berthold provides with the DuoSeries LB 474 and LB 472 measuring solutions for potassium concentration (LB 474), product density (LB 474) and bulk flow determination (LB 472).

Potassium concentration measurement

The measurement of the potassium concentration is one of the most difficult and challenging measurements in the mining industry. In nature, the element potassium is both stable in the form of the potassium isotopes K-39 and K-41, and radioactive, represented by the radioisotope K-40. Stable potassium and K-40 are in a fixed ratio to each other, and K-40 makes up only about 0.01 per cent of the total potassium. Due to this low proportion, an extremely sensitive and long-term stable measuring system is required. In addition to this, the system must be able to suppress naturally occurring background radiation to achieve an optimum signal-to-noise ratio. With the LB 474 potassium analyser, Berthold fulfils all those requirements. The potassium analyser makes use of this constant ratio of K-40 and the stable potassium isotopes. By detecting the gamma radiation of K-40, the total concentration of potassium and thus K2O equivalent or KCl can be determined.

Depending on the process conditions and the mechanical arrangement, the potassium analyser can be equipped with three different types of detectors. Furthermore, adapted to the prevailing conditions on-site, the detector can be installed inside a tube which is immersed into a tank or vessel, or it can be mounted at a tank’s outer wall. Under specific circumstances the detector can also be installed at a conveyor belt.

Density and bulk flow measurements

In contrast to the determination of the potassium concentration, for the measurement of product density and bulk flow, an additional gamma radiation source (Cs-137 or Co-60) is required. The gamma radiation sources are produced to customer specifications by Berthold’s own source production facility and in accordance with the highest safety guidelines. Both source and detector are installed non-contacting and non-intrusive at the relevant pipeline, vessel, or conveyor belt. The gamma radiation is attenuated by the process media to be investigated when penetrating the pipeline, vessel, or belt. This weakening of the radiation is detected by the detector. The higher the product density or the load, the less radiation reaches the detector. In this way, density, concentration, solid content, mass flow and bulk flow can be determined reliably and without contact – independent of pressure, temperature, viscosity, conductivity, or vibrations.


The measurement systems LB 474 and LB 472 each consist of a scintillation detector and a separate transmitter. This transmitter can be located in a distant (up to 1,000 metres) and easily accessible control room. The modern transmitter has a 3.5-inch touch panel, a dual-core CPU, and various operating options. Extended functions for self-diagnosis and monitoring also ensure maximum functional safety.

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About Berthold Technologies

As a world technology leader in the field of radiometric measuring systems, Berthold products convince with outstanding measuring performance and reliability. The main fields of application are, for example, in chemical & polymers (etc. fertilizer industry), steel and power plants, mining & mineral processing, waste & recycling, refineries, paper, glass, and in the food industry (example, sugar beets). In addition, microwave measuring systems for the determination of moisture and concentration belong to our extensive portfolio. The production of high-quality measuring systems for industry and research began more than 70 years ago in Bad Wildbad in the Black Forest in Germany.

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