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Flow Control and Measurement

Flow control is an advancing field of fluid dynamics that describes the flow of liquids, gases, and plasmas. Flow measurement is the determination of bulk fluid movement, and the flow of fluids can be measured in various ways.

Flow control and Flow measurement fluid - industrial flow control liquids

Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the mechanics of fluids (liquids, gases, and plasmas). Fluid mechanics has various applications in mechanical and chemical engineering, biological systems, and astrophysics. Fluid mechanics is a branch of continuous mechanics that deals with the relationship between forces, motions, and statical conditions in a constant material. The fluid mechanics can also distinguish between a single-phase and multiphase flow, i.e., flow made more than one phase or single distinguishable material.

In general, fluid mechanics is the study of fluids either in motion, fluid dynamics, or at rest, fluid statics. Both liquids and gases are classified as fluids.

Fluid dynamics

Fluid dynamics deals with the fluid mechanics where the fluids are in motion. Fluid dynamics has many applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, and many more.

Fluid statics

Fluid statics deals with the fluid mechanics where the fluids are at rest. Applications of fluid statics include pressure measurement with hydrostatics, water dams and gates, liquid storage tanks, and many more.

Flow is the movement of pressurized fluids between volumes of varying pressures. Pressurized fluid always moves from higher pressure to lower pressure. Without a pressure differential, the fluid is stagnant, and the system lacks flow. Uncontrolled fluid in motion can physically destroy pumps, piping, valves, meters, and other fluid flow control system components.

Fluid flow control is an advancing field of fluid dynamics that describes the flow of liquids, gases, and plasmas. Flow control of fluids can be accomplished by passive, which requires no energy, or active devices, which require energy. Controlling and measuring the fluid flow is increasingly incorporated in many applications, from aviation and defense to the pharmaceutical industry.

Passive flow control

Passive flow techniques include geometric shaping, vortex generators, and the placement of grooves or riblets on airfoil surfaces.

Active flow control

Active flow techniques include steady and unsteady suction or blowing and synthetic jets.

Controlling the fluid flow is essential for optimizing and protecting complex systems. Using various technologies to control fluids like air and liquid, fluid control systems and products last longer in demanding environments.

Managing fluid flow systems can be difficult; controlling and managing these systems can be done via multiple techniques and methods.

  • Hydrostatic pressure: The idea is to put the inlet reservoir higher than the outlet reservoir to let the gravity force move the fluid from the inlet to the outlet, just like a water tower,
  • Pressure pump or regulator: The working principle is to pressurize the sample reservoirs to control the pressure drop between the inlet and the outlet of the microfluidic system,
  • Syringe pump: Widely used in standard laboratories, syringe pumps are based on a mechanical system usually actuated by an electric motor that pushes a syringe,
  • Peristaltic pump: The liquid is contained in a flexible tube, and alternative compressions and relaxations will draw in the liquid and result in flow,
  • Integrated micropump: They are mainly based on a peristaltic principle with flexible membranes.

Within a fluid control system, types of controls can be divided into two main categories: fluid conditioning controls and physical fluid controls. Fluid conditioning controls impact a fluid’s chemistry or chemical condition. Fluid conditioning controls include:

  • Suspension control
  • Viscosity control
  • Contaminant control

Fluid physical controls are those controls that impact a fluid’s movement through the system. Physical controls include:

  • Flow control
  • Pressure control

Liquid flow controllers are most commonly used in applications that require a constant flow rate and can compensate for varying pressure changes. Because of this functionality, liquid flow controllers will cost more when compared to a liquid flow meter. Liquid flow controllers are utilized for applications requiring micro to low flow rate measurements and control and are used in cases where there is a constant flow rate.

Contamination within the system that controls flow fluid can originate when unwanted water, oil, or other fluid mixes with a fluid or materials in a fluid control system. Contamination most often occurs due to a system that is not flushed correctly.

The flow control industry performance has plateaued in recent years. Given the increasing demand and technological advancements, the flow control industry will rise in innovations.

The most recent flow control innovations include improvements in the steam measurement industry. In recent years, an ultrasonic steam meter got introduced that is both portable and permanent. This steam meter offers a quick installation, built-in data logger, increased accuracy.

In addition to the innovations in the steam measurement industry, the thermal energy industry has also introduced a new meter that offers accurate measuring of fluid velocity and energy consumption. This is one of the few flow sensors that used electromagnetic technology where a conductive liquid moves through a magnetic field to produce a current.

Fluid flow control innovations - Fluid Handling Pro

Fluid flow measurements are necessary for a wide range of applications, from the control of fuel flow in engine management systems to the regulation of drug delivery in ventilators. Fluid flow measurements involve the determination of the flow velocity, the mass flow rate, or volumetric flow rate. Fluid flow measurement is divided into several types since each type requires specific consideration of such factors as accuracy requirements, cost considerations, and the use of the flow information to obtain the necessary results.

When deciding on the best type of meter to measure a given flow, the nature of the fluid to be measured needs to be considered. Flow characteristics are also important. In custody transfer metering, the best flow measurement is required.

Whether a liquid or gas, measurement of flow is commonly a critical parameter in many processes, it is essential to know that the proper fluid is at the right place at the right time in most operations. Some critical applications require the ability to conduct accurate flow measurements to ensure product quality.

Direct mass flow measurement is an essential development across the industry as it eliminates inaccuracies caused by the physical properties of the fluid, not least being the difference between mass flow and volumetric flow. Mass is not affected by changing temperature and pressure, which alone makes it an essential method of fluid flow measurement.

A flow meter is an instrument used to measure a liquid or gas’s linear, nonlinear, volumetric, or mass flow rate. Flow meters are referred to by many names, such as flow gauge, flow indicator, liquid meter, flow rate sensor, etc., depending on the particular industry. However, they all measure flow. Like rivers or streams, open channels may be measured with flow meters. Or, more frequently, the most utility from a flow meter and the widest variety of flow meters focus on measuring gasses and liquids in a pipe. Improving fluid measurement precision, accuracy, and resolution are the most significant benefits of the best flow meters.

How do flow meters work?

A flow meter is meant to measure the amount of gas, steam, or liquid passing around or through it. Although there are many kinds of flow meter sensors that work in different ways, they all have one set goal: to give the most accurate flow rate report based on the application. The data could either be for general research, process control, or processing. Flow meters are either used to measure volume or mass.

Types of flow meters

The different categories of flow meters are as follows:

  • Positive displacement: (or a volumetric flow meter or PD flow meter): These kinds of meters directly measure the volume – Many volumetric flow meters measure the speed of the flow rather than directly measure the volumetric flow rate
  • Mass: Also known as an inertial flow meter. The output signal is directly related to the mass passing through the meter.
  • Velocity: The output signal is directly related to the velocity passing through the meter.
    – Electromagnetic
    – Ultrasonic
    – Turbine, Propeller, and Paddle Wheel
    – Vortex Shedding

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Experts for Flow Control and Measurement

Natalie Waldecker, Portfolio Manager Food and Pharma, knows the challenges of the demanding industries inside out. With her broad application knowledge, she is at home on topics such as hygiene design, certificates and cleanability. As product manager for pressure measurement technology, she is also responsible for one of the most important measuring principles for the industry. Natalie gathers her knowledge as close to the application as possible. Preferably directly at the customer’s site, experiencing “real world” practice. She has thus gotten thoroughly acquainted with international customer requirements and knows the ins and outs of the market. With this background, she is able to not only explain technical relationships in an understandable way, but also offer valuable tips and convincing solutions. In the 12 years she has been with VEGA, she has steadily improved her expertise which makes her the right person to contact for new product ideas and tailored customer solutions.
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Trevor Forster is Managing Director of the internationally respected flowmeter company – Titan Enterprises Ltd. His experience in fluid handling dates back to the mid 1960’s when he started working on rotating seals and flowmeter design for third party clients. Trevor draws upon his extensive experience of using innovative design and production techniques to produce elegant flow metering solutions for organisations around the globe. Titan Enterprises supply a range of off-the-shelf flowmeters, application-specific flowmeters & bespoke flow metering devices & solutions. Their flow sensors are designed to customer specifications & to meet specific flow ranges & environmental conditions.Titan are also a supplier of NSF-approved flowmeters for food & beverage applications.
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Eric Heilveil is a 30-year plus veteran in the process instrumentation marketplace. He started out his career working for Emerson Electric and later moved on to work with his current employer Siemens Process Instrumentation Flow Division. Throughout his career in industrial flow measurement he has held positions as a field service manager, a field sales manager, application engineer, product line manager, sales and product trainer, among other roles. Eric has worked extensively in the semiconductor, biotech, water and wastewater, food and beverage, automotive, oil and gas, and chemical industries. His current position with Siemens is as a Product Marketing Manager for flow products. Eric holds a dual MBA in marketing and finance. Based in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, throughout his career Eric has been responsible for business development and marketing of the Coriolis, clamp-on ultrasonic, magnetic flow and vortex flow products. He has been expertly selling, managing, consulting, designing, training, marketing and writing about flow measurement and control products that serve industry for his entire career.
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A question on your Gas & Flame Detection needs ? Erik will guide you through the different solutions to protect your personnel and your site from anoxia, toxic or explosive hazards. Each application has its own set of fire, gas and safety hazards, which can vary not only from facility to facility, but also from area to area within the same facility. With more than 8 years of experience in the gas and flame industry, Erik knows it all and can consult with you to identify your specific needs, design an appropriate fixed gas detection system to meet those needs and ensure its proper installation and ongoing operation. You can contact Erik in Dutch, English or French, to discuss gas and flame detection applied to water treatment, refineries, breweries, car parks, tunnels, natural gas, food & beverage, steel, marine, freezing and many more… No application is too complicated, and no gas detection system better meets your need than those from Teledyne Gas and Flame Detection, manufacturer, equipment and service provider with production facilities based in Arras, France/ Renfrew, UK and Englewood, USA. Erik’s dedication to safety is backed by Teledyne’s global capability and manufacturing excellence, and you can be sure that he will provide expert judgment and premier technology that you can trust.
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Bob Steinberg is the founder, president, and CEO of Sage Metering. He has over 40 years of instrumentation experience. Before forming Sage Metering in 2002, Steinberg managed thermal mass flow meter sales at Kurz Instruments, Sierra Instruments, and Eldridge Products. While at Weston Instruments, he was a product marketing engineer. He has a BSEE and a BA from Rutgers University.
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Casey Williamson is Head of Business Development Microelectronics Global Industries for Georg Fischer. For the last 25 years, he has provided support for the semiconductor and photovoltaic sub-segments; through the years, he has been instru­mental in defining fab construction requirements as they apply to piping systems for the conveyance of high-purity liquids, process cooling, and chemical waste streams as well as analytical control systems to optimize the operations of UPW and waste systems.
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Paul de Waal is Dutch and educated as a Measurement and Control /Electronics Engineer. After a start as Instrumentation Engineer at Delta Controls, often outsourced to Shell, he became Managing Director of Sierra Instruments b.v. for almost 25 years. In 2012 he moved to the UK and now works as Business Development Director at Vögtlin Instruments GmbH in Switzerland. Paul has been active is several ISO committees and has a wide network of international relations that he can call upon to support him. (Vögtlin is part of the TASI group). He has practical experience with about every flow meter principle available. Currently his professional focus is application support, product development and international sales promotions. His main interest and experience lies in non-fiscal gas mass flow measurement/control systems and calibration. Gas mass flow meters and controllers used in applications like consumption measurements and distribution, gas dosing, mixing, (leak) testing, flame control, furnace, glass, heat treatment, packaging and analysers. Application for this can be found in industries like Food, Bio technology, Surface technologies, Welding, Medical, Pharma, Energy (Solar, Fuel cells, combustion, etc), chemical, semiconductor, metal industry and many more..
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Francisco graduated as an industrial technical engineer at the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena (Murcia, Spain) in 1993, and joined HRS in 1998. After a year as a design engineer, he focused on HRS’ food processing projects, developing, designing and commissioning large projects for customers. Throughout his professional career, Francisco has worked primarily within the food industry and has an in-depth understanding of its process nuances and requirements. In 2010, he was made Food Business Director for the HRS Group, supporting the sales teams’ engagements and customer requirements internationally across all of the HRS Group’s offices. Francisco’s extensive technical knowledge developed throughout his career as a design engineer, along with his ability to understand the unique needs of the client, have made him one of the top experts in the food processing industry.
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Erik Tiemensma, Sales Knowledge Manager, has over 20 years of experience in flow and pressure measurement and control for gas, liquid and vapour. For many years Erik worked as Sales Engineer supporting worldwide sales channels in finding the best solutions for customers’ applications. At Bronkhorst we are convinced that sharing experiences and knowledge is an added value for customers, when discussing the most suitable products for their applications. As part of this expert panel, looks forward to your challenging flow or pressure questions.
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Jan Christensen has nearly 40 years of experience in precision flow and pressure control instrumentation. He began his career as a Canadian Service Specialist where he traveled out to the field and repaired valve instrumentation and control systems. Now with 35 years at Brooks Instrument, he assumes the role of Regional Manager. As a Regional Manager he is responsible for the northern part of the United States and Canada learning about the exciting projects our customers are working on and how Brooks Instrument can serve them. Jan has worked extensively in oil and gas, biotech, and semiconductor industries as a flow, technical, and application expert. He is a global traveler, fluent in Danish, German, and English, and has visited every continent except for Australia. Jan has a diploma in materials management from Seneca College and a diploma in electronics from Sheridan College. He also served in the Canadian Air Force for seven years where he learned about electronics specifically repairing radar.
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