18 May, 2024

Compressors help gauge time and tides

01 April, 2016

Thorite, the UK independent distributor of pneumatic products and process systems, has been a regular supplier to the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) since the 1970s, providing oil-free Jun-Air compressors used across the UK Tide Gauge Network (TGN), which is maintained on behalf of the Environment Agency by the NOC, working out of two centres in Southampton and Liverpool.

Coordinated system

The TGN was formed in 1953 following violent North Sea storms, which caused extensive flooding along the east coast of Britain, killing 307 people. This event made people realise that there was a need for a coordinated system of sea-level monitoring and forecasting around the UK coast and as a result, a number of previously unrelated tide gauges were brought together under the auspices of the TGN.

Most of the tide gauges in the current TGN are bubbler systems. These consist of a metered flow of compressed air feeding through a supply tube to an underwater cylinder located well below the lowest tide level so it can measure the full tidal range. Each quiet and compact Jun-Air compressor supplies a regulated, dry supply of compressed air to a pneumatic control panel which in turn supplies the bubbler gauge measuring point. The bubbler tide gauges are located throughout a network of 43 sites around the coast of the British Isles, helping provide long-term marine science capability by monitoring a constant flow of data on tidal movements.

Continuous running

Thorite recommended the Jun-Air oil-free compressors for use by the NOC as they are capable of continuous running. This is an important feature, since should a leak occur within the pneumatic system the compressor will not be damaged. The compressors have reportedly proved to be totally reliable in operation between service intervals, which is of paramount importance to the TGN as many of the locations are unmanned and visited only during annual inspections.

Les Bradley, the head of the NOC’s Tide Gauge Inspectorate based at the organisation’s Liverpool centre, is enthusiastic about the performance of the Jun-Air compressors and said: “Thorite not only originally advised us to purchase the Jun-Air equipment but have also delivered an excellent and reliable service over the years, providing advice, supplying parts and also running extremely useful pneumatics-based courses for our engineers at NOC.”


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