Ease of use and reduced costs drive flow meter developments

Paul Boughton

Suppliers of flow meters are launching innovative new products designed to help process users solve problems, increase profits and reduce costs. Sean Ottewell reports.
It has been a busy start in 2013 for Dynasonics, with two new flow measuring systems. First up is the clamp-on flow and energy meter TFX Ultra, which provides accurate and repeatable flow measurement readings for full pipe liquid applications such as cooling lines, grey water flows, water distribution and processes where system shutdown is impossible.
The unit is designed to simply clamp on to the outside of an existing pipe, reducing installation time and material costs. There is no need to shut down the process for installation or maintenance, therefore the TFX Ultra can be installed and fully operational in minutes. With no moving parts, there is no mechanical wear – no repair kits or replacement parts are ever needed.
The TFX Ultra features a rugged, compact aluminium enclosure, easy-to-read digital display, bi-directional flow measurement, and a totaliser featuring forward, reverse and net total, and Modbus communications. It offers an optional Ethernet connection as well as a USB programing port.
With ease of operation a key component in designing the Series TFX Ultra, Windows-based software utility UltraLink is available and compatible with all Dynasonics transit time flow meters to allow users to easily configure, calibrate, and troubleshoot with a notebook PC.
The company’s second new launch is the DXN portable ultrasonic flow meter. With true hybrid transit time and Doppler operation, this includes an expandable 1GB data logger that takes readings over 100 times a second, and the ability to store site-specific parameters using plain English site descriptions.
Other benefits include: built to handle rigorous environments with an outdoor-readable full colour WVGA display and protective cover; easy to read flow measurement screens; multiple graphing options and advanced diagnostics; and full touchscreen keyboard for more efficient data input.
For its part, Badger Meter, a leading global innovator and manufacturer of flow control solutions, says it has raised the bar with its E-Series ultrasonic flow meters. With state-of-the-art ultrasonic technology that provides exacting flow measurement, the company says its E-Series deliver long-term, accurate meter reading for utilities.
 Designed specifically for water metering applications, the meters use ultrasonic transit time technology to accurately calculate flow rate and total consumption.
The E-Series meter is constructed with no moving parts, greatly improving accuracy and reliability by eliminating the mechanical wear that can reduce accuracy over the life of the meter. The internal battery that powers the meter will last up to 20 years, reinforcing dependable service and peace of mind. In addition to its long lifespan, the E-Series meter is very accurate – within ± 1.5% – regardless of water quality, sand particles and pressure fluctuations.
Lead-free compliant with current and future NSF/ANSI standards, the E-Series meter’s stainless steel housings are available in six sizes: 5/8 inch, 5/8 x 3/4 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and now also including 1-1/2 inch and 2 inch. Its simplified one-piece electronic meter and register design are integral to the meter body for ease of installation. The meter electronics are contained in a compact, encapsulated, weatherproof and UV-resistant housing.
Badger Meter currently holds Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification for its 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 1-1/2 inch and 2 inch stainless steel E-Series meters. Listed under UL Subject 327B, E-Series meters are the first electronic meters to receive certification under this newly published standard. With the UL Subject 327B listing, E-Series meters are available for different applications including potable water and reclaimed water. [Page Break]
Clamp-on solutions

FLEXIM's non-intrusive ultrasonic clamp-on flow meters are said by the company to set the standards in terms of reliability and user-friendliness - but especially in terms of accuracy.
This precision is based on over 20 years of experience and deep knowledge in the field of ultrasonic clamp-on flow metering by the company’s engineers.
Several technological breakthroughs, driven by the company, as well as implementing standards are the responsible cornerstones.
One of these is ‘plug and play’ wet-flow calibrated transducers. Each matched pair of transducers undergo a rigorous wet-flow calibration at the factory and is shipped with traceable calibration documentation. All calibration data - including the transducer identification and parameters - is stored in a transducer-resident non-volatile memory (EPROM). It is automatically transferred to the transmitter upon connection. Consequently, programming errors are eliminated and there is never a need for a zero adjustment or calibration.
In addition, FLEXIM’s FLUXUS instruments feature a robust dual-μP technology core together with the latest digital signal processing (DSP). With a generation of 1000 signals per second, they allow for real time statistical analysis and produce stable and reliable results even under the most difficult application conditions.
Then there are the company’s powerful correction algorithms. Based on many years of experience, FLEXIM continually developed the FLUXUS measurement algorithm, which automatically adapts to varying application conditions. Especially under non-ideal conditions with high pipe wall echoes, transducer positioning errors or a strong signal damping caused by exotic pipe materials or the medium itself, FLEXIM's correction algorithms play out their full advantage by unambiguously recognising such errors and eliminating them.
The company’s non-intrusive technology offers reliable measurement on the smallest pipes (for example 1/4 inch tubing in paint finishing systems) as well as on very large ones (for example large penstock measurements in hydroelectric plants).
Measurement is possible on just about every liquid medium and pipe material, regardless of the conductivity.
Standard transducers may be used at temperatures from -20°C to 130°C - the temperature range of the high temp versions extends up to 200°C. The patented WaveInjector system expands the measurement range of FLEXIM’s standard transducers from cryogenic temperatures at -160°C up to 400°C.
Also, since the ultrasonic transducers are mounted on the outside of the pipe, the measurement is not pressure sensitive. Measurements at high operating pressures do not result in any extra costs whatsoever.
With over 100 years of flow measurement experience, ABB’s flow meter portfolio includes products that are designed to solve problems, increase profits and save costs.     
The company particularly focuses on solutions that are accurate, reliable, use advanced processing solutions, and which are tough and easy to work with.
For example, the company’s coriolis mass flow meters are a universal solution to measure flow, density and temperature, even for non-conductive fluids. Its thermal mass flow meters ensure gas flow measurement without the need for pressure or temperature compensation, and its vortex and swirl flow meters offer best-in-class steam flow measurement with short upstream and downstream piping requirements.
Particularly popular with the process industries (Fig. 1) are ABB’s comprehensive range of electromagnetic flow meters. Here, for example, ProcessMaster improves process control by as much as 60 per cent using innovative signal processing and enhanced noise filtering technology. The FSM4000 flow meter provides best in class performance for pulp and paper, mining and other high solid content flow measurement. With its robust measurement and ease of installation, WaterMaster is a rugged product aimed at water and waste water industry. In water applications where power and communications are limited the AquaMaster, with its battery and wireless communications, is the total flow metering solution.[Page Break]
The case for steam flow metering

According to steam specialist Spirax Sarco, most of the flow meters currently used to measure the flow of steam were orginally designed for measuring the flow of various other liquids and gases. Very few have been developed specifically for measuring the flow of steam.
The company warns that steam flow meters cannot be evaluated in the same way as other items of energy saving equipment, or energy saving schemes. “The steam flow meter is an essential tool for good steam housekeeping. It provides the knowledge of steam usage and cost which is vital to an efficiently operated plant or building,” says the company.
The main benefits for using steam flow metering include: plant efficiency; energy efficiency; process control; costing and custody; and plant efficiency.
A good steam flow meter will indicate the flowrate of steam to a plant item over the full range of its operation - from when machinery is switched off to when plant is loaded to capacity. By analysing the relationship between steam flow and production, optimum working practices can be determined.
The flow meter will also show the deterioration of plant over time, allowing optimum plant cleaning or replacement to be carried out.  The flow meter may also be used to: track steam demand and changing trends; establish peak steam usage times; and identify sections or items of plant that are major steam users.
This may lead to changes in production methods to ensure economical steam usage. It can also reduce problems associated with peak loads on the boiler plant.