Tag Archives: Big-3 Flow Technologies

Now Measure All Flow Energy In Your Facility — One Solution — Three Metering Technologies

oil and gas refineryFacilities managers at large facilities often have the challenging task of managing all the flow energy in their facility with the mandate from upper management to save money on energy costs. To accomplish this goal, it’s critical to get accurate flow measurement data of the flow energy in your facility such as: natural gas, compressed air, steam, chilled and hot water.

The next challenge is to find the right flow meters for these gas, liquid, and steam applications. Often many different technologies are needed depending on the type of fluid being measured and many different flow meter companies must be used. Dealing with different companies and technologies can be very time consuming, expensive, and ultimately frustrating.

Sierra is tackling this issue with our new Big-3™ flow energy management strategy. Sierra now offers facilities managers a “one-stop shop” for all flow meters needed for effective flow energy management—all made in the USA and supported globally by our network of over 150 locations in over 50 countries.

We design and manufacture thermal mass flow meters for accurate compressed air and natural gas measurement, vortex shedding flow meters for steam and water measurement, and transit-time ultrasonic flow meters for liquid flow measurement. Product commissioning and training, lifetime tech support, and a global network of flow experts from one company make it easy to install and operate all gas, liquid and steam flow meters.

In addition, for easy integration into your facility, Sierra’s “Big-3” thermal, vortex, and ultrasonic (TVU) flow meters have:

  • Sierra’s commitment to great sensors with lifetime warranty—over 40 years of flow meter innovation and expertise
  • Shared firmware platform—Raptor OS operating system
  • Shared software apps for ease of use, so no learning new software and local display interface menu structures for each device
  • Major focus on excellent, fully automated, calibration facilities
  • Broad application capability (gas, liquid, steam)
  • One company, one point of contact for all three flow metering technologies
  • All designed, built and calibrated by Sierra in Monterey, CA USA

Watch Video

Let me explain more about Sierra’s new Big-3™ strategy and how it can help you transform your flow energy measurement strategy by watching this short video.

Download the Big-3 overview brochure.

Sierra’s Top Flow Blogs of 2017

best of 2017

Another year has come and gone, and it certainly was a big one for Sierra and our customers! Let’s look back at the news and top content that we shared with you in 2017.

Most Popular Blog Posts from 2017

We love sharing our news and providing useful flow meter information with you through our Let’s Talk Flow Blog. Here are the posts that resonated best with our readers last year, complete with links so you can catch up if you missed any.

 

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Measure All Flow Energy in Your Facility-ONE Solution-Three Metering Technologies 

The pressure is on your shoulders to make the smartest decisions in 2018 to measure all the gas, liquid, and steam flow energy in your facility. In this video, learn how ONE complete flow energy management solution can simplify the flow energy management in your factory.

 

minute.flow.tip.John.S.1.3.17[Minute Flow Tip Video] Mass Flow Versus Volumetric Flow Technology

What’s the Mass Flow Advantage? Chief Engineer, John Smitherman explains the vast differences between gas mass flow rate and volumetric flow rate.  Learn why mass flow technology greatly improves measurement accuracy in this Minute Flow Tip Video.

 

scott.video.207i.installation.1.3.17Making Ultrasonic Liquid Flow Meter Installation Easier
Clamp-on Ultrasonic flow meters are the perfect flow meter for liquid flow measurement. But finding the perfect signal can sometimes be difficult. Sierra’s Product Line Director, Scott Rouse, demonstrates how on board Software Apps on an InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic liquid flow meter make set up simply with an easy “12-step” program.

 

compod.blog.2017.Best.of.1.3.17How to Supercharge the SmartTrak Mass Flow Controller with Compod
Learn how to streamline, simplify, and save time and money with the Compod upgrade for the SmartTrak 100 mass flow meter and controller.  Set up simple process control systems driven by SmartTrak with Compod without the need for PLCs or computers.

 

 

 

4-20.image.2017.best.of.1.3.18 Understanding  4-20 mA Current Loop Communications
Many times, customers ask  “how do I get accurate 4-20mA output readings?” for 4-20mA output devices. Kam Bansal, Director of Engineering, explains 4-20mA communications protocol, step-by-step to dispel the complications and confusion around the protocol to get you set up and running.

 

 

Oldies, but Goodies

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so it seems based on the continued popularity of these older posts that continue to draw readers.

Tuning Your Boiler for EPA Boiler MACT Compliance
Our most popular new post in 2016 remained hot through 2017 as the three-year grace period on the EPA’s Boiler MACT expired in January 2017. In the article, we discussed the regulations, three ways to tune a boiler for compliance, and how flow meters can help your company comply.

Flow Meter Do’s and Don’ts with Ammonia
Five years after it was published, this post is still one of our most popular. We knew we had to write this post when a number of engineers and researchers stopped by our booth at Pitcon in 2012 to ask about ammonia flow measurement. Years later, the precautions stand true and are critical if you are using a flow meter for an ammonia application.

Methods & Pitfalls of In-Situ Calibration Validation of Thermal Flowmeters
“In-situ” means in place, meaning that you don’t have to return your instrument to the facility to have it recalibrated and recertified. You can certainly see the allure of that, but there are pitfalls. Read this post to learn how to get reliable results and avoid false positives.

We hope you enjoyed this look back at 2017 and that you continue to follow us through 2018. We look forward to bringing you more of the best flow information online in the coming year.

ACHEMA 2018: An Eye On the Future

The spirit of ACHEMA 2018 can be summed up in three words: reimagine, capitalize, and prepare for the future. ACHEMA was all about seizing the potential opportunities that Industry 4.0  or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) can bring to the chemical and process industries. Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies – a mix of cyber-physical systems, IIoT, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Simply put- new levels of analysis to provide a truly productive process.

ACHEMA 2018 BoothACHEMA was both a validation and confirmation that Sierra is going in the right direction. Sierra is already moving on all of these trends, Sierra no longer just builds a “thing.” We believe flow measurement solutions need to “live” and communicate with all other devices around the facility site to create value for our customers.

While not all flow meters are industry 4.0 ready yet, the industry is getting there fast. At heart, some of the newest flow meters and controllers are fulfilling the promise of Industry 4.0 with their ability to talk to the manufacturing process and automate their key function- measuring and control of gas flow- and then communicating that information so that a plant monitors (perhaps someday even the plant’s AI, the Artificial Intelligence) can make informed decisions about the process.

To that end, we showcased our Big-3™ one flow energy solution for optimizing and measuring nearly every critical and costly flow found in the chemical and process industry. An integrated solution to measure all flow data points of your facility. 

The Big-3 features QuadraTherm 640i/780i thermal flow meters, InnovaMass 240i/241i vortex flow meters, and the InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic flow meter. The Big-3 share the same revolutionary Raptor firmware and many of the same software apps. They are a complete flow energy solution for flows like compressed air, natural gas, steam, and hot and chilled water. Together, they set a new standard in ease-of-purchase, performance, accuracy, reliability, and ease of use.

We look forward to the opportunities Industry 4.0 brings and continuing to provide innovative solutions to our customers in the years to come.

How a Vortex Flow Meter Works

Vortex flow meters are increasingly becoming the flow technology of choice for gas, liquid, and steam flow measurement. Vortex flow meters are ideal for measuring saturated and supersaturated steam in large facilities to improve steam production efficiency and allocation. Volumetric water flow and high flow gas measurements are also strong applications for vortex flow meters. Let’s take a closer look at how the vortex flow meter works and what makes it the ideal choice for many gas, liquid, and steam industrial flow applications.

What is a Vortex Flow Meter?

A vortex flow meter utilizes the fluid dynamics principle of vortex shedding to calculate the velocity of liquids, gases, and steam, across a wide variety of applications.

Vortex Flow Meter for Steam Measurement

Figure 1. Vortex meter in steam measurement application. 

How Do Vortex Flow Meters Work?

Vortex meters use a dimensioned bluff, sometimes called a shedder bar, to generate the phenomenon known as Kármán vortex street in which vortices begin to form and oscillate. Using a variety of sensor technologies, the natural frequency of these oscillating vortices is converted into a digital signal which is then processed through the meter’s electronics to calculate flow.

 

Vortex Sensor Principle of Operation

Figure 2. Vortex sensor cutaway showing vortex principle of operation.

 

Von Karman Vortex Street

Figure 3. The Von Karman Vortex Street.

 

Types of Vortex Sensor Technologies

Some of the sensor technologies used to measure the natural frequency produced during vortex shedding include:

  • Piezoelectric crystals and ceramics – These materials produce an electrical charge in response to an applied mechanical stress. As vortices pass the sensor, they apply the stress needed for the piezoelectric material to produce a charge. Polarity may be used to distinguish the alternating current and create a digital frequency.
  • Delta P sensors – The formation of vortices creates a dynamic pressure in accordance with Bernoulli’s Principle . The pressure is lowest at the point of the vortex core and increases as that point moves away from the center. By using a Delta P sensor to measure these pressure changes as the vortices pass, a digital frequency can be generated.
  • Ultrasonic sensors – Ultrasonic sensors measure the time it takes a generated signal to travel from one transducer to another. Because the alternating vortices being shed from a bluff rotate in different directions, the signal being sent from an ultrasonic sensor will speed up or slow down based on the direction of rotation relative to the direction the signal is traveling. This shift in speed, when compared to a constant, can be used to create a digital frequency.

    Transit-time ultrasonic principle of operation

    Figure 4. Transit-time ultrasonic principle of operation

Advantages of Vortex Flow Meters

Vortex flow meter technology offers an accurate and natural occurring method for measuring flow. Due to the natural occurrence of vortex shedding when a bluff is introduced, this method of flow measurement can be used with many types of fluids, gasses, and even steam. The lack of moving mechanical components also make for a robust construction that can hold up in some of the toughest application environments.

Is a vortex flow meter right for your application? Learn about Sierra’s vortex volumetric flow and multivariable mass flow meters to find out.

240S Inline

240i Inline

240i Inline

241S Insertion

241S Insertion

241i Insertion

241i Insertion

Tame Your Energy Hog with Accurate Compressed Air Measurement

How do you tame the compressed air energy hog in your facility? As most facilities managers can attest to, the electricity used to produce compressed air can be one of the most expensive energy costs in your facility. Questions arise such as: How can I verify my compressed air capacity? How do I balance distribution and allocation in my factory? Why am I losing pressure in my lines?  The key is to have accurate compressed air flow measurement devices to gather data on your usage and create a usage profile.

In the past, facilities have used insertion turbine meters for compressed air measurement, but turbine meters don’t work well with low compressed air flows. Alternatively, insertion pitot tubes are an option, but they don’t measure direct mass flow. Both technologies are prone to clogging. Thermal mass flow meters have become the most reliable and stable devices to give you accurate compressed air measurements to conduct your audit.

Glen Coblentz, VP Sales North America for Sierra, gives some in-the-field tips to figuring out what is happening with the compressed air in your facility in his new Flow Tip Video, “Tame Your Energy Hog: Compressed Air.”

3 Tips For Understanding Your Compressed Air Usage

1. Direct thermal mass flow meter measurements are more accurate than traditional insertion turbine meters or pitot tubes.

In most facilities, compressed air usage typically varies widely throughout the day, from very heavy at times of peak manufacturing to small flows (perhaps due to leakage) when most production is on standby. With more accurate compressed air flow measurement, companies are putting a price tag on compressed air and making educated choices that lead to cost savings. In the past, most companies used volumetric, or non-compensated, flow meters, which can present challenges in compressed air measurement. For example, even a small change in operating temperature can result in these instruments showing a 5 to 10 percent reduction in accuracy.

Thermal mass flow meters, however, are ideal for compressed air audits because direct mass flow measurement is immune to changes in operating temperature and pressure. Thermal flow meters also have a very wide turndown (100:1) to handle peak and low flow fluctuations. They also have little to no pressure drop, which saves money since the facility has already paid to have the air compressed. One facility reported a $7,500 to $44,000 annual savings through improved compressed air system management and/or replacing their compressors with more energy efficient units—a substantial cost-cutting investment with relatively short-term payback.MONEY_LEAK

2.  Measure both your mass flow & pressure for a complete understanding of your compressed air usage.

To really understand what’s going on with the compressed air in your facility, you need to measure both the mass flow of your compressed air and at what pressure it’s running. If you don’t have both of these measurements, you could be venting compressed air out of your roof or have a major leak. Thermal mass flow meter devices with volume, temperature, and pressure sensors (VTP) built in will give you the mass flow rate and the pressure at the  point of measurement. Knowing both the mass flow and pressure can help you answer key questions, such as: Do I have leaks in my compressor system? Is my compressor running at capacity? Is the downstream demand too great? This valuable information could even allow you to turn off a compressor that is over-producing, saving thousands on energy bills.

 

3. All is not well if your pressure is dropping but the mass flow across the pipe is not changing.

If your mass flow is stays constant, but your pressure is dropping, this lets you know that your compressors can’t keep up with your downstream demand. In this case, you need to verify your compressor capacity and the compressed air allocation. The other problem with this scenario is that if your mass flow stays the same and your pressure drops, your velocity in the pipe will increase exponentially. This can cause major damage to downstream valves, as well as cause a lot of noise and discomfort to your employee. So tame that energy hog with smart, accurate, mass flow pressure measurements.

Compressed Air Management with QuadraTherm

As part of Sierra’s Big-3™ suite of Flow Energy Management products for all gas, liquid, and steam flow applications, the QuadraTherm 640i/780i thermal flow meters have been specifically designed for precise flow energy management in compressed air and natural gas applications. QuadraTherm offers:

  • Direct mass flow measurement of gases, eliminating the need for temperature or pressure compensation
  • Wide 100:1 turndown
  • Accuracy of +/- 0.5 percent reading; high flows 60,000 sfpm (0-305 smps); 100:1 turndown
  • Multivariable Mass flow rate, temperature & pressure
  • Advanced four-sensor “dry sense” technology minimizes drift and enables field validation
  • Insertion version with hot tap capability for easy installation on large pipes
  • Software applications for easy set-up, in-situ calibration, dial-a-pipe, and gas mixing
  • Digital communications suite

Browse our selection of compressed air flow meters and discover more about Sierra’s Complete Flow Energy Management Solutions for any gas, liquid, or steam flow measurement.

 

 

 

Bringing Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings to Veteran’s Facilities

va blog image

As the infrastructure of our Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities age and government-driven energy efficiency mandates rise, VA facilities’ engineers are faced with a decision to upgrade existing equipment or replace older equipment in order to improve energy efficiency. Dealing with the upgrade or replace decision is a big one. Replacing older equipment is costly, but in the end, newer technology may integrate better into automation systems and realize even greater cost saving in energy over the long haul. What kind of data do facilities managers need to make these critical energy-saving decisions?

The Best Place To Start-Ask the Right Questions

A great place to start is by getting accurate “flow energy” measurements of the methane/natural gas, water, and steam flow in your major operations, especially in boilers and steam flow systems. Flow energy is defined as “flows that cost money,” like natural gas, compressed air, water, and steam. Since none of these commodities are “free,” VA facilities managers must strive to measure their “energy” usage accurately, determine the processes that use the most energy, and make them more efficient either by upgrading or replacing the equipment.

  1. Is your boiler running at optimal levels?
    To assess the efficiency of your boiler’s combustion, it’s critical to get accurate inlet methane measurements. Once you have accurate methane measurements, you can answer the key question: Is my boiler running too rich or too lean? If your boiler is running “rich”, which means it is using more methane than is needed for optimal combustion, you not only waste money on natural gas costs but also emit more hazardous air pollutants into our environment-every molecule of methane that is not burned increases emissions. If you’re running too “lean”, your boiler is not at optimal combustion, so you are not producing steam at capacity. Once you have determined the health of your boiler, you can either make the decision to replace your aging boiler or use measurements from thermal mass flow meters to better tune your current boiler. Learn More about Boiler Efficiency.
  2. How much steam are your boilers producing? How much steam are you allocating?
    Efficient steam production is critical for optimizing energy at Veteran Affairs facilities. The steam produced by a boiler must be measured in order to determine boiler efficiency. Accurate steam flow measurements at the production point and key allocation points will give you a true assessment of how efficient steam is running through the facility and helps identify leaks in the system. Now the question becomes what technology provides the most accurate steam flow measurement? Traditionally, steam flow has been measured with a differential pressure device. This is typically an orifice plate. However, such devices are inherently volumetric flow measurements. Changes in pressure and temperature will change the mass flow rate of steam. Even a “small” change of 10 percent in steam pressure will result in a 10 percent error in non-compensated mass flow. This means that, in a typical differential pressure measurement installation, the volumetric flow rate measured by the device must be compensated by measuring temperature and pressure, and then these three measurements (ΔP, T and P) integrated with a flow computer to calculate mass flow.
    Insertion multivariable vortex flow meters allow one instrument and one process connection to simultaneously measure mass flow rate, temperature, pressure, volumetric flow rate, and fluid density. The density of saturated steam varies with either temperature or pressure, while superheated steam varies with temperature and pressure, so multivariable vortex flow meters assure the flow meter’s density calculations are correct, and therefore, mass steam flow measurements are correct maximizing your steam productivity. Multivariable vortex flow meters provide steam accuracy of 1 percent of reading, 30:1 turndown plus pressure and temperature compensation.Again, you may need to upgrade aging steam flow infrastructure or simply tune your system with accurate steam flow measurement to save on cost and fulfill efficiency mandates.
  3. How much water are you using for key processes?
    In boiler tuning, the feedwater flow to the boiler is an important measurement, since you need to measure the efficiency at which the boiler turns this feed water into steam.  You may also need to measure the thermal/BTU energy.  A clamp-on ultrasonic flow meter is ideal for this type of water measurement due to high accuracy at low and high flows, installation with no pipe cutting or process shutdown, and immunity to external noise. Coupled with temperature sensors on the “hot” and “cold” legs, the thermal energy gained or lost can be measured. This thermal/BTU measurement is critical for optimizing central heating and cooling systems that provide HVAC to the entire facility.

Big-3 Eases the Burden of Recommissioning  

To address the flow measurement of the methane, steam, and water for such a large scale equipment upgrade, Veteran Affairs facility managers would typically work with up to 5 different companies with varying technologies to get these critical flow energy measurements. Imagine only working with one supplier for all of your gas, liquid and steam flow measurements. Sierra provides flow experts and Big-3 technology for all gas, liquid, and steam flow measurements. The Big-3 includes:

  • QuadraTherm 640i/780i, the most accurate thermal flow meters on the market for methane and air flow measurement
  • Insertion mulitvariable InnovaMass 240i/241i vortex flow meters for steam flow measurements-easy hot tap installation
  • Clamp on InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic water flow meters with energy/BTU capability
  • Specialized, local support team for all three technologies
  • Shared software applications and operating system for easy integration
  • Designed, built, and calibrated in the USA by Sierra

Learn more about Flow Energy Measurement of All gas, liquid, steam flow.

Watch Flow Energy Management Videos

 

Tune Your Boiler: Watch Video for 3 Tips to Improve Energy Efficiency

Improving energy efficiency in facilities, campuses and hospitals is top of mind for most facilities managers and engineers.  Government regulations like Boiler MACT and other energy efficiency mandates for government buildings like VA hospitals have put the pressure on facilities engineers to take a hard look at their equipment to optimize for energy efficiency.  Optimizing energy efficiency comes in the form of both saving energy and increasing productivity.  Hands down the biggest energy hog in a facility is compressed air production and a close second are the boilers which use methane & air for combustion to create steam energy.

Glen Coblentz, VP Sales North America for Sierra, tackles the tough question, “Is Your Boiler Running at Optimal Levels?” and gives some in the field tips to tuning your boiler to improve energy efficiency in his new Flow Tip Video. Watch Video.

3 Tips for Tuning Your Boiler

1. Know Your Flow-get accurate methane measurements in low and high flow conditions
As with most energy audits, it’s critical to know how much fluid you have running in your pipe. In this case, you must know much inlet methane (or intake fuel) is entering your boiler? This is actually a difficult flow measurement due to the requirement for flow measurement accuracy over a wide range, from very low flows to high flows. There are many types of flow technologies to choose from for methane measurement.

In the past, facilities have used insertion turbine meters for methane measurement, but turbine meters don’t work well with low flow conditions.  Thermal flow meters are the ideal technology for methane measurement due to their high accuracy over a wide range-from 0 up to 60,000 sfpm  (0 to 305 smps) and wide 100:1 turndown.

2. Get direct mass flow measurements over volumetric flow rate
We have established that thermal flow meters have excellent accuracy and turn down over a wide range. But what are the other advantages of using thermal flow meters for methane measurements? Thermal mass flow meters are ideal for natural gas combustion because mass flow rate, not volumetric, is the quantity of direct interest. For example, the optimal fuel/air ratio for efficient combustion is calculated on a mass basis.

Natural gas is also billed on a mass basis. Because thermal mass flow meters count the molecules of gas, they are immune to changes in inlet temperature and pressure. In a thermal flow meter’s simplest working configuration, fluid flows past a heated thermal sensor and a temperature sensor. As the molecules of the fluid flow pass the heated thermal sensor, heat is lost to the flowing fluid. The thermal sensor cools down, while the temperature sensor continues to measures the relatively constant temperature of the flowing fluid.

3. Determine if your boiler is running too rich or too lean 
Once you have accurate methane measurements, you can answer the key question: Is my boiler running too rich or too lean? If your boiler is running “rich”, which means it is using more methane than is needed for optimal combustion, you not only waste money on natural gas costs but also emit more hazardous air pollutants into our environment-every molecule of methane that is not burned increases emissions. If your running too “lean”, your boiler is not at optimal combustion, so you are not producing steam at capacity.

So the answer is to “tune” your boiler to get the optimal boiler efficiency calculation which improves energy efficiency.  A well-tuned boiler is around 80% efficient. If the boiler’s efficiency is less than 80%, then energy is being wasted.  Government regulations like Boiler MACT require end users to fix the boiler to meet this efficiency level. “Fixing it” entails fixing leaks, adding insulation, and cleaning heat exchanger tubes, which all add to the cost of boiler maintenance. Download Boiler MACT Information Guide.

Boiler Tuning with Thermal Mass Flow Meters

As part of Sierra’s Big-3™ suite of Flow Energy Management products for all gas, liquid, and steam flow applications,  QuadraTherm 640i/780i thermal flow meters have been specifically designed for precise flow energy management in compressed air and natural gas applications. QuadraTherm offers:

    • Direct mass flow measurement of gases, eliminating the need for temperature or pressure compensation
    • Wide 100:1 turndown
    • Accuracy of +/- 0.5 percent reading; high flows 60,000 sfpm (0-305 smps); 100:1 turndown
    • Multivariable Mass flow rate, temperature & pressure
    • Advanced four-sensor “dry sense” technology minimizes drift and enables field validation
    • Insertion version with hot tap capability for easy installation on large pipe
    • Software applications for easy set-up, in-situ calibration, dial-a-pipe, and gas mixing
    • Digital communications suite

For a more economical solution, Sierra’s BoilerTrak 620s provides direct mass flow accuracy at a lower price point. Sierra also offers all products needed for Boiler tuning like the InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic flow meter to measure the feedwater and InnovaMass 241i for measuring steam output. Learn more about our complete flow energy management solution for all gas, liquid and steam flow applications.

See all of Sierra’s boiler efficiency solution flow meters.

 

 

Steam Flow Energy Measurement

From facilities management to district heating applications, accurate steam flow energy measurement is a critical flow measurement needed to incur substantial savings on energy and maintenance costs. However,  steam flow energy measurement is also the most difficult flow measurement to make due to the unknown factors of what type of steam is being produced, various pipe sizes, and difficulty in steam flow meter installation. In most cases, you need to shut down the steam production, which can cost thousands of dollars in lost productivity, to install the steam flow meter.

Glen Coblentz, VP Sales North America for Sierra, has over 30 years experience dealing with the challenges of getting accurate steam flow measurements in facilities. Learn some tricks of the trade in his new Flow Tip Video, “Do You Know Your Steam Flow Measurement?” He tackles 3 important questions for accurate steam flow measurement:

  1. What kind of steam is your facility making? Are they producing saturated or superheated steam?
  2. What type of measurement, mass or volumetric, provides the most accurate steam flow measurements?
  3. What do you do when you absolutely cannot shut down the process, but you find you need to measure steam flow?

Determine if your Steam is Saturated or Superheated Steam

To measure steam flow effectively,  you need to know what type of steam you are producing. Saturated steam and superheated steam are very different and measuring incorrectly for either one will cost you big time.

It may seem like this would be obvious, but let’s say you are creating superheated steam.  If you have to continually add lots of heat (energy) to the steam so that you can create the superheated steam you may have something wrong with your process. When you specify, your steam flow meter make sure you know what type of steam you are measuring as this determines how the steam flow meter is set up from the factory. Incorrect set up results in incorrect steam flow readings. The density of saturated steam varies with either temperature or pressure, while superheated steam varies with temperature and pressure, so multivariable vortex flow meters assure the flow meter’s density calculations are correct, and therefore, mass steam flow measurements are correct maximizing steam productivity. Sierra’s multivariable vortex flow meters provide steam accuracy of +/- 1% of reading, 30:1 turndown plus pressure and temperature compensation.

Use the Right Flow Meter Technology to Ensure the Most Accurate Steam Flow Measurements

While there are a multitude of steam flow measuring technologies out there, an insertion multivariable mass flow vortex meter will be your best option for accurate data to help make informed decisions about your steam flow system.

Unlike differential pressure devices commonly used for steam flow which are inherently volumetric flow measurements, a multivariable mass flow vortex uses mass flow as its basis of measurement. This is important,  because changes in pressure and temperature will change the mass flow rate of steam. Even a “small” change of 10 percent in steam pressure will result in a 10 percent error in non-compensated mass flow. This means that, in a typical differential pressure measurement installation, the volumetric flow rate measured by the device must be compensated by measuring temperature and pressure, and then these three measurements (ΔP, T and P) integrated with a flow computer to calculate mass flow.

Choosing an insertion multivariable vortex meter gives engineers the benefit of using one instruments and one process connection to simultaneously measure mass flow rate, temperature, pressure, volumetric flow rate, and fluid density.

When Shutting Down is Not an Option – Hot tap

In many facilities, a very real challenge is the need to measure steam flow but shutting down your process is not an option. So, what do you do in these situations?

The answer is to use Sierra’s 241i insertion vortex flow meter. Unlike other options out there, the 241i has full packing gland and hot tapping capability allowing engineers to insert the sensor into any size pipe they want, anytime they need to do so to make a steam flow energy measurement without shutting down the process.

    • Insertion probe up to 72 inches (2M); optional hot tap
    • Ideal for saturated or superheated steam, gas, and liquid
    • Low-cost alternative to Coriolis meters for large pipes and ducts
    • Easy single-point installation; hot tap and hot tap retractor available
    • Volumetric flow rate or mass flow
    • Multivariable for five measurements in one device with one process connection:
      • Mass flow rate
      • Volumetric flow rate
      • Temperature
      • Pressure
      • Fluid density
    • Complete suite of digital communications
    • Rugged, long-lasting design for the toughest applications; no leaks with all welded gasket-free flow body

Learn more about Sierra’s vortex volumetric flow and multivariable mass flow meters.

Discover how vortex flow meter works.

Thermal Mass Flow Meters Increase Boiler Efficiency in Co-generation Applications

Did you know most chemical plants use electricity derived from an on-site natural gas power plant or co-generation plant burning waste gas streams? 

In large boilers, power plants bring together air and fuel (natural gas, waste gas, oil or coal) for combustion, which creates heat. The heat boils the water, creating steam. The steam runs through a turbine, which causes the turbine to spin, thus generating electricity. Measuring the flow energy — flows that cost money such as natural gas, waste gas, water and steam — in these boiler applications is critical for improving energy efficiency, identifying waste and minimizing the greenhouse gases going into atmosphere. Only with accurate mass flow measurement can you make informed decisions to improve energy efficiency. Therefore, to improve boiler efficiency  it’s critical to know your options when selecting the appropriate flowmeter technology to measure natural gas, water and steam in power generation . 

Increasing Combustion with Optimal Fuel-to-air Ratio

Power generation requires inlet air and fuel (natural gas, waste gas, oil or coal) for combustion. Engineers must measure the air and gas ratio accurately for efficient combustion in the boilers. Too much gas is wasteful, dangerous and costly, and too little will create insufficient flame to boil the water efficiently.

Choosing the Right Meter to Monitor Fuel-to-air Ratio

Orifice and Turbine Meters. Monitoring fuel gas to boiler units traditionally is accomplished with an orifice or turbine meter. However, these are not the best measuring devices for this application because they both are subject to failure and require frequent skilled maintenance to provide an accurate and reliable measurement.

Constrained piping conditions can also give engineers headaches. For example, an orifice meter requires 10 to 50 diameters of upstream piping to eliminate the effect of flow disturbances. Because long straight pipe runs are hard to find, most flow measurement systems are affected adversely by varying flow profiles within the pipe.

The biggest cause for concern, however, is that orifice and turbine meters measure volumetric flow. Additional pressure, temperature and differential pressure sensors, as well as a flow computer, are required to calculate or infer mass flow. This not only degrades the flow measurement accuracy, but the installation and maintenance costs with this type of compensated measurement increase the cost of ownership.

Thermal Mass Flow Meters. In contrast, thermal mass flowmeters are suitable for the direct mass flow measurement of gases, not volumetric flow. Because thermal mass flowmeters count the gas molecules, they are immune to changes in inlet temperature and pressure and measure mass flow directly without compensation. In inlet air and gas flow boiler applications, thermal flowmeters perform well because the optimal fuel-to-air ratio for efficient combustion in boilers is calculated on a mass basis, not volumetric (Figure 3).

In a thermal flow meter’s simplest working configuration, fluid flows past a heated thermal flow sensor and a temperature sensor. As the fluid’s molecules flow past the heated thermal sensor, heat is lost to the flowing fluid. The thermal sensor cools down, while the temperature sensor continues to measure the flowing fluid’s relatively constant temperature. The amount of heat lost depends on the fluid’s thermal properties and its flow rate. Thus, by measuring the temperature difference between the thermal and temperature sensors, the flow rate can be determined. 

New developments in four-sensor thermal technology coupled with stable “dry sense” sensor technology as well as advanced thermodynamic modeling algorithms enable some thermal flowmeters to attain ±0.5% reading accuracy, rivaling Coriolis flow meter accuracy at less cost. On-board software apps also enable gas-mixing capability, in-situ validation, and dial-a-pipe.

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Case-in-Point. Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) in China uses Sierra’s thermal mass flow meters to improve boiler efficiency, cut costs and meet government regulations.

Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) is the precursor to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the ubiquitous material used worldwide in plastic bottles, textiles and elsewhere. A PTA chemical plant in China generated steam and electricity from its on-site power plant using coal as a fuel. It also had a wastewater treatment station that produced methane, which then was flared off. Both processes are major greenhouse gas emitters.

New government regulations required the company to reduce its CO2 emissions. The plant decided to modify its four boilers to burn both coal and the previously flared-off waste gas (methane), estimating a savings of approximately $0.5 million in coal each year. Working with a single-source supplier, engineers reworked the boilers’ designs and installed Sierra Instruments’ industrial insertion thermal mass flowmeters to measure its combustion air and waste gas fuel, ensuring optimal combustion (Figure 7).

One thermal flowmeter measures the waste gas flow, while the other four thermal flowmeters provide sub-metering of this gas stream to each boiler. Another four meters measure pre-heated (200°C, 392°F) combustion air to each boiler, allowing the boiler control system to optimize the fuel-to-air ratio. The Sierra mass flow meters provided both precision flow data for complying with government regulations and helped the company reduce waste while increasing efficiency.

Discover More Ways to Improve Boiler Efficiency through Tuning your boiler  https://www.sierrainstruments.com/blog/?tuning-boiler-epa-boiler-mact-compliance.

 

How to Choose the Perfect Flow Meter to Reduce Flow Energy Costs in Your Facility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s almost October and Fall is in the air. 2020 has turned out to be a tumultuous year and things seem to only be heating up. COVID-19 continues to be a daily factor in our lives, civil unrest is abundant, and the US economy remains volatile.

However, despite these obstacles, common among all manufacturing is a desire to optimize business processes, cut costs where they can, and keep the doors open while still providing the best possible service for their customers. A tangible way to do this is to focus on managing the flow energy in their facility to control costs, increase process efficiency, improve profits. And this all starts with providing facility operations managers and engineers the most accurate flow data to make informed, smart decisions about how to better manage the flow energy in their facility.

Here are some steps to identifying the flow energy applications in your facility, asking the right questions, and then specifying the correct flow meter for the fluid and application to get the most accurate flow measurement possible.

Step 1. Understand Your Plants’ Key Flow Energy Applications and Ask the Right Questions.

The key to getting the best data to manage your facility is to know your plants key flow applications. Common applications across many facilities are natural gas measurement, compressed air measurement, steam production, usage, and allocation, water and energy BTU measurement. The common denominator is all of these are flow processes that need its specific flow energy measured.

Application #1
Precise Natural Gas Measurement-Improve Boiler Efficiency/ Sub-Metering

Need to measure fuel gas flow over a wide range? A single thermal mass flow meter can measure very high flows at peak demand or very low flows during startup and shutdown to always assure the best fuel to air ratio in your burners and boilers. Additionally, thermal mass flow meters can help you to control natural gas costs with sub-metering that will deliver improved accuracy and substantial savings.

Key Questions to control costs and improve process

  • Are your boilers running efficiently?
  • What’s the inlet flow rate of natural gas to your boiler?
  • How can you accurately measure your flow over a wide flow range?
  • If temperature or pressure change in your line, how do you maintain an accurate flow rate?
  • What flow meter technology is best for natural gas measurement?

Application #2
Compressed Air Measurement-Identify Costly Leaks & Inefficiencies
Want to be convinced that the energy costs to generate your compressed air don’t go to waste? Thermal mass flow meters are ideal for detecting compressed air leaks. Due to their low flow sensitivity and compact insertion probe design, you can easily move from place to place to find and eliminate leaks when you see flow where there is no air demand.

Key Questions to control costs and improve process

  • How much compressed air are your air compressors producing?
  • How much compressed air is being allocated to other processes?
  • Are there compressed air leaks in the system?

Application #3
Steam Flow Measurement-Production, Usage, and Allocation
Concerned that pressure drop in your delivery system is affecting your steam flow? Multivariable vortex flow meters measure steam pressure, temperature and mass flow with one compact meter, so you have confidence your steam plant and delivery system are efficient.

Key Questions to control costs and improve process

  • How much steam are your boilers producing?
  • Is your steam pressure drop affecting your flow measurements?
  • How can you measure steam in large pipes without shutting down your operation?
  • When pressure or temperature change, how do you know if your steam flow measurement is still accurate?
  • How much steam are you allocating to each part of your facility or campus?
  • Do you have a steam leak?

Application #4
Water Measurement & Energy BTU Measurement-Optimize Energy Efficiency
Water supply and usage has a significant impact on costs. Measure every drop without cutting a single pipe with a clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters. Integrated temperature measurements know how many BTUs your hot or chilled water loop actually delivers.

Step 2. Find the Right Flow Meter to Accurately Measure Your Key Gas, Liquid and Steam Flows

This is easier said then done. With all the various applications, it is a challenge to find the right flow meters for these gas, liquid, and steam applications. Often many different technologies are needed depending on the type of fluid being measured and many different flow meter companies must be used. Dealing with different companies and technologies can be very time consuming, expensive, and ultimately frustrating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sierra has solved this issue with our Big-3™ flow energy management strategy. We manufacture one complete family of flow meters we call the iSeries which work as a team to handle nearly any flow application found in industry. They provide a complete flow solution spread across three technologies, Thermal, Vortex and Ultrasonic. They feature user friendly apps and share a common user interface, so facility managers don’t have to re-learn each meter.

Regardless if you opt for the Big-3 option or just pick and choose one or two types of technologies for your process, the meters should:

  • Have high Accuracy and repeatability
  • Ability to measure a wide flow range – meters than can measure low to high flows.
  • Have Digital Communications Options
  • Calibrated to NIST standards
  • Able to validate in the field for easy in-situ calibration ( thermal/ vortex meters)
  • Have the necessary capabilities to measure flow rates required by governmental regulations

Work with one flow energy management expert that can help ease the burden of specifying new meters and recommissioning.

Our Big-3™ flow energy management strategy gives managers a best case scenario to deal with one flow meter company to specify and support instrumentation for all your gas, liquid, and steam flow measurements. This means one point-of-contact for product specification (measurement goals, fluids, flow rate, turndown requirements, temperature and pressure) and installation, one operating system for easy integration, and one local support team over the lifetime of the product.

Sierra’s Big-3 includes:

Download Flow Energy Guide for additional details to managing flow energy in your facility.

Watch Flow Energy Videos to learn more about how to measure e air, gas and steam better in your facility.