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Ultrasonic Flow Meters

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Ultrasonic flow meters use a different method for measuring the flow rate of fluids. Most flow meters have contact with fluids to determine the flow rate. They have impellers, gears, and variety of mechanized methods for measuring pressure, flow, and temperature. As the name of the meter implies, ultrasonic flow meters use acoustic vibrations to measure the rate of a liquid’s flow. Read More…

Ultrasonic Flow Meters Ultrasonic flow meters use a different method for measuring the flow rate of fluids. Most flow meters have contact with fluids to determine the flow rate. They have impellers, gears, and variety of mechanized methods for measuring pressure, flow, and temperature. As the name of the meter implies, ultrasonic flow meters use acoustic vibrations to measure the rate of a liquid’s flow.
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Leading Manufacturers

Monterey, CA  |  831-373-0200

Sierra manufacturers high performance mass flow meters and controllers for nearly any gas, liquid or steam. Customers choose Sierra when they need an accurate and repeatable flow measurement, short delivery lead times, expert flow advice and long term support. When it matters, choose Sierra. Visit www.sierrainstruments.com.

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Sierra Instruments $$$

Sturtevant, WI  |  262-886-2695

SIKA is a developer and manufacturer of flow control products and a wide variety of other measuring and monitoring systems. Our inventory includes flow sensors, flow meters, flow switches, and many more. We know that flow solutions aren't one-size-fits-all, which is why we provide consultation and flow management solutions that are individualized and customized to your requirements. When you choose SIKA, you will receive efficient, durable products and customer service tailored to your needs.

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SIKA USA $$$

Tucson, AZ  |  888-290-6060

We are manufacturers of Internally Compensated Laminar (ICL) mass flow meters and mass flow controllers. Flow rates as low as 0.5SCCM full scale, as high as 1500SLPM full scale. Standard features: local display, 14-gas calibrations per unit, digital and analog communication, 100:1 turndown.

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Alicat Scientific, Inc. $$$

Itasca, IL  |  888-539-3623

Keyence is a leading supplier of flow meters and many other automation components. Our flow meters are compatible with everything from compressors to receiving tanks to machine drop points, while measuring both overall usage and costly leakage amounts. Additional features include multiple numerical and graphical data displays. Visit our website to find out more about our products.

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Keyence Corporation of America $$$

Wilmington, NC  |  910-392-2490

Since 1984, Eastern Instruments has been engaged in the development of solid particle mass and airflow measuring and control systems for clients in the food, petrochemical and agricultural industries. Many of the “legend” companies use Eastern Instruments’ in-processes, making brands that touch the lives of millions every day.

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Eastern Instruments $$$
placeholder image Sierra Instruments SIKA USA Alicat Scientific, Inc. Keyence Corporation of America Eastern Instruments

What is an Ultrasonic Flow Meter?

The popularity of ultrasonic flow meters is due to how versatile they are by comparison to other methods. Unlike other flow meters, the technology of this form of flow meter does not require any adjustment in the pipes where the flow is being measured. They simply clamp on to the pipe in two positions using transducers that use ultrasonic technology to measure the flow rate.

Readings for an ultrasonic flow meter are taken by a signal being sent from one transducer to the other. When the signal moves with the flow, it moves faster. When it is against the flow, the signal moves slower. The signal measures the flow profile across the flow and not a single point, which results in a more accurate and precise reading.

The calculation of fluid velocity in the liquid flow is a matter of using the two readings from the up and downstream readings. The two speed readings produced by the signal going downstream and the signal going upstream are used to determine the velocity of the flow. The transducer that produces the signal uses a high frequency oscillator in the transmitter.

How an Ultrasonic Flow Meter is Attached

Transducers for ultrasonic flow meters can be clamped on the pipe in three ways, which are Z, V, and W paths. With the Z path or one traverse connection, one transducer is placed above the pipe and other is below the pipe. This allows for the signal between the transducers to be the strongest and provide more accurate readings. The Z path method is normally used with larger pipes.

For the V path method, the transducers are mounted on the same side of the pipe. Instead of the signal passing directly between the transducers, the signal is bounced off the inside of the pipe and up to the second transducer. This type of positioning is used since it is easier to install.

The W path method is used for smaller sized pipes. The signal from one transducer to the other bounces off the bottom of the pipe twice and off the top of the pipe once. The signal is sent from the upstream transducer and bounces off the bottom of the pipe. It then bounces up to the top of the pipe, down to the bottom of the pipe, and up to the transducer.

Types of Ultrasonic Flow Meters

There are two different ways that ultrasonic flow meters measure the flow rate, which are transit time and Doppler. Though there is a variation between the methods, both types have the distinct feature of being non-intrusive and not requiring any restructuring of the pipe. They clamp on to the pipe to take flow measurements.

As the name implies, the Doppler method uses the Doppler Effect, which states that the frequencies of sound waves are dependent on the motion of the source in relation to the source of the sound. Doppler ultrasonic flow meters read the change in the frequency of the ultrasonic signal in proportion to the rate of the flow when it is reflected by suspended particles or gas bubbles.

The transit time form of ultrasonic flow meter measures the time difference between when the signal is sent from the first transducer and when it is received by the second one. A comparison is made between when the sound is sent downstream and to when it is sent upstream. When there isn’t any flow, the time in both directions is the same. When a flow is present, it moves faster going downstream then when going upstream.

Benefits for Using a Ultrasonic Flow Meter

There are significant benefits to using an ultrasonic flow meter. Ultrasonic technology does not require any pipe cutting to install the meter. It attaches to the outside of the pipe to provide immediate readings. Since there isn’t any need for cutting pipes or shutting down the system, ultrasonic meters are easy and quick to install. When they are needed in a new location, they can be easily disconnected.

Ultrasonic Flow Meter Informational Video