Tag Archives: Industrial Products

Ultrasonic Flow Meter Reduces Water Company’s Drain [Case Study]

Ultrasonic Meters Installed

The Carmel Riviera Mutual Water Company believed it was losing big. Historical estimates indicated that more than 30% of this small, independent water company’s production was going down the drain through leaks, waste, evaporation and other types of loss. The company budgeted almost $60,000 per year in initiatives to reduce these leaks, including labor and materials for surveys and expensive repairs.

Wayne Daniel, head of operations at Carmel Riviera, decided it was time for better measurement and overall operational efficiency. When he contacted us, we recommended our affordable InnovaSonic® 205i, a digital ultrasonic flowmeter with clamp-on versatility that now helps the water company:

  • Accurately measure water-loss percentage
  • Improve production efficiency
  • Improve water quality by reducing backflush
  • More accurately bill users by identifying overusers.
After six months of using the ultrasonic flow meter, Daniel and his team learned their actual loss rate was only 12% of their production. The improved production and usage figures from the InnovaSonic enabled the water company to significantly reduce its annual maintenance and operations budget and target other important issues, like water conservation.Daniel says, “Implementing the InnovaSonic flow meter was not only an important step in making Carmel Riviera a more productive plant, but it’s also helping us drive water conservation.”

All of Sierra’s ultrasonic flowmeters are available for sale online with immediate shipment.

For Improved Accuracy in Industrial Applications: Clean & Test Your Mass Air Flow Sensor

In today’s dirty heavy industrial applications, engineers and operators are often faced with an inherent challenge which affects mass flow accuracy: How do I know if the sensor of my mass flow meter is clean? and How do I clean the sensor without shutting down the system?

Because accurate mass flow readings are often critical for running an efficient system, you need to be able to count on the accuracy of the mass air flow sensor. In industrial applications, debris build-up can lead to false readings. Deposits of soot or dirt and dust can form an insulating blanket around the sensor, which of course is not good for a thermal sensor that works by measuring the heat lost to the flowing gas. This means thermal probes may need to be cleaned periodically to get the best flow measurement accuracy.

4 Ways to Clean Your Thermal Sensor

1. Remove the probe from the pipe (hot tap fittings may be used for this) or via a built-in purge system.

2. If the probe is covered with dirt or dust, blow off the sensors with high pressure (HP)  air,  or use a clean cloth to remove any dirt on the sensor. If you cannot remove the sensor from the pipe, a built-in purge system allows you to blow off the sensors without removing the probe by directing HP air onto the sensors to blow dirt or soot away.

3. Another improvement on this design is using axial flow sensors (sensors parallel to the flow) vice perpendicular flow. The use of axial flow sensors lessens the area on which debris can build up. Sierra has successfully used this design, coupled with a built-in purge system, to measure very dirty combustion air to coal fired power plants and for process air in tire manufacturing plants.

If those steps don’t solve the problem, check the sensor for other damage. For example, you can test the sensor with a volt meter to measure the ohm resistance across the wire of the sensor. Sierra has developed a software program that can validate a QuadraTherm sensor without disconnecting the sensor from the mass air flow meter. See the image below for a sample screen shot of the validation program.

Flow Sensor Validation

This software is conveniently included with your QuadraTherm 640i/780i Mass Flow Meter order. You can also download the software. So remember if you have a dirty application all is not lost. Sierra has the hot tap, purge, or axial flow sensor solution and validation software to solve your problems.

Talking Biogas Production In Europe

Europe is quickly becoming a hotspot for the biogas industry, and Sierra and our local French distributor Alto Instruments took advantage of that fact by exhibiting at BiogazEurope in France. Attendees learned about the entire biomass process, from the bio side of things (mass) to the energy side (electricity).

Some trending applications featured at the show included:

  • Biomass digesting
  • Optimizing/upgrading biomass
  • Precise flow measurementSierra-Alto Booth at BiogazEurope 2014

Overall,  trend was the need for high-accuracy flow meter measurement throughout the whole biogas process to optimize production and bring efficiency while creating electricity (energy) from fossil fuels.

To really monetize biogas and create the most efficient fuel sources, you must accurately measure how much biogas is produced in each stage of the process. Although biogas flow measurement is a challenging—mainly due to changing gas composition, low pressure, and dirty, wet gas—it’s not impossible. Which is why we featured our QuadraTherm 640i at the BiogazEurope show.

The 640i meets the criteria for successful biogas measurement by managing changes in:

  • Gas composition
  • Gas mass flow rate
  • Gas temperature
  • Gas pressure
  • Outside temperature
  • Pipe conditions (size and roughness)
  • Flow profile

These common fluctuating conditions inherent in biogas production can all be managed with accurate readings (the 640i maintains accuracy at +/- 0.75% of reading above 50% of full scale), without sending the flow meter back to the factory for recalibration. Who doesn’t want to reduce downtime and save money?

For more information on precise biogas flow measurement, download our white paper.

The New Vortex iSeries has Arrived!

InnovaMass. Reinvented. I am proud to announce on behalf of our entire development team, our completely re-designed, next generation InnovaMass 240i and 241i vortex volumetric flow and multivariable mass flow meter product line. Learn more…

The all new iSeries InnovaMass 240i inline and 241i insertion vortex flow meters are manufactured at our brand new assembly and calibration facility in Monterey, California. I think you will find this new product exemplifies on our tradition of innovation with improvements and features like:

  • New Raptor II OS operating system “Flow Engine”
  • 10x faster processing speed
  • It has Apps like: FloPro, qMix, Dial-A-Pipe, Dial-A-Fluid
  • Easy field setup, meter tuning and instrument validation
  • Field firmware upgrades
  • And much more

Learn more… Reduced Cost of Ownership: With five high accuracy measurements available from InnovaMass, total cost-of-ownership plummets. Lower initial cost, less complex installation, and reduced maintenance costs contributed to significant overall savings. Did You Know?  In 1997, Sierra was the first to design and introduce a multivariable mass vortex flow meter to the world with InnovaMass. Today, multivariable mass vortex units are an industry standard. InnovaMass is a Registered Trademark of Sierra Instruments, Inc., Monterey, California

How Does a Flow Meter Work?

A flow meter works by measuring the amount of a gas, liquid or steam that passes through or around the flow meter sensors. While flow meter sensors work in many different ways, the end goal is the same: Deliver the most accurate and repeatable flow measurements for the specific application, whether for general research, process control or semiconductor processing.

Flow meters measure either mass or volume. In a volumetric flow meter, the flow Q is equal to the cross-sectional area of the pipe, A, and the velocity of the flowing fluid, v:  Q = A * v. In a mass flow meter the mass flow can be represented this way (where Q is the volumetric flow rate and ρ is the fluid density): ṁ = Q ∗ ρ

In many cases, especially in chemical reactions, combustion, or buying and selling gases, mass flow rate is the most important consideration.

How Different Types of Flow Meters Work

  • Capillary Thermal Mass – Uses thermal heat transferred between gas flowing in a very small tube (the capillary) and a set of resistance temperature detectors (RTDs) to measure gas mass flow.
    capillary flow
  • Immersible Thermal Mass – Uses thermal heat transferred from a heated sensor that is immersed in the flow to measure gas mass flow.
    diagram of how a thermal flow meter sensor works
  • Vortex Shedding – Uses vortices shed from a sensor immersed in the flow and a computed fluid density to measure volumetric and/or mass flow of gases, liquids and steam.
    vortex image 1
  • Transit-Time Ultrasonic – Uses ultrasound to measure the speed of a fluid flowing in the pipe to measure volumetric flow and can be clamped onto the outside of the pipe so no pipe cutting is required  

How Will the Flow Meter Be Used?

The next step is to determine what the flow meter is being used to measure:

  • Gas, liquid or steam?
  • Very large flows or only small flows?
  • High or low temperature and pressure of the gas, liquid or steam in the pipe?
  • Gases, liquids or steam flowing in big or complicated piping arrangements?
  • Costly products that must be measured very precisely?

Depending on the answer to these questions, the best flow meter working technology can be selected. Some flowmeters work better when measuring different things.

  • Thermal mass flow meters can precisely measure mass flow of gases from low to high flows.
  • Vortex Shedding flow meters are ideal for measuring liquid and steam flows at high temperatures and pressures.
  • Transit-Time Ultrasonic liquid flow meters are ideal for water or other liquid flow metering when no pipe cutting and process shutdown is ideal.
  • Older technologies such as differential pressure, positive displacement or turbine meters also have their place.

For a full explanation of how these various industrial flow meters work, visit Sierra’s industry application resources page where you’ll find application stories, white papers, videos and selection tools that will help you select the best flow meter for your application.


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.



Out in the Cold: Mass Vortex Flowmeter Conquers Cryogenic Fluid

Cryogenic fluids are key in a variety of industries with very low temperature applications, including medical, large-scale frozen food processing and electric power transmission. However, these fluids must be handled – and measured – with great care, which can be a challenge if you’re using a traditional turbine meter or other tools to assess various fluid properties.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a single flow meter could do it all? Let me introduce you to one that can: the InnovaMass® Multivariable Mass Vortex Flowmeter, with technology that can simultaneously measure FIVE process parameters at the same time – mass flow rate, temperature, pressure, volumetric flow rate and fluid density.

We’ve extensively tested and field validated the extreme low-temp version of these flow meters over the last several years and have learned that most customers prefer the InnovaMass over turbine meters for measuring mass flow rates of cryogenic liquids down to -328°F (-200°C).  Using a special cryogenic temperature RTD, mass calculations are done with the latest density equations of state for liquid oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide. All models are fully field-programmable and configurable, and they feature RS485, MODBUS or HART protocols.

If you’re looking for a better way to measure cryogenic liquids, consider giving the InnovaMass flowmeter a try.

Bluetooth Wireless Portable Liquid Flow Measurement Made Possible

As you might have guessed, Sierra has a passion for flow measurement and we are always striving for ways to improve our flow meters and processes to give you the best accuracy possible for your application. Today, we are pleased to announce the release of our new InnovaSonic 210 Portable with Bluetooth Wireless Android Tablet PC  offering precise flow data, along with great field flexibility and portability to give you instant access to your flow measurement information wherever you are.

InnovaSonic 210 Portable Ultrasonic Flow Meter with Android Tablet PC

InnovaSonic 210 Portable Ultrasonic Flow Meter with Android Tablet PC

The InnovaSonic 210 replaces keyboards and cabling with a Bluetooth-enabled Android tablet PC running a dedicated Flow App to control data acquisition and processing. You can browse your collected data, perform statistical analysis, display graphs and perform other functions easily. With its high accuracy (+/- 0.5% of reading from 1.6 ft./s to 16 ft./s (0.5 m/s to 5 m/s)), the 210 is ideal for precisely measuring a wide range of liquid flows with a consistent repeatability of +/-0.15% of reading for pipe sizes 1 inch to 200 inches. While principally designed for clean liquids, this ultrasonic flow meter operates effectively with the minimal quantity of air bubbles or suspended solids found in most industrial applications. Another benefit? Fast delivery—2 days for in-stock units!

Check out all of our liquid flow meters for the most accurate flow meter measurement available on the market today.

Chemical Engineering Magazine Article By Sierra’s Founder

Chemical Engineering Flow Meters

Sierra’s Founder, Dr. John G. Olin, looks at the Principles of Operation, Installation, Calibration and Best Applications for Thermal Mass Flow Meters…

Read the full article in Chemical Engineering Magazine.

It Has Apps! Our New Vortex Flow Meter Empowers You

Sierra’s next generation InnovaMass “iSeries” features a new hyper-fast microprocessor, robust software apps, and an automated state-of-the-art manufacturing and flow calibration facility to assure the highest level of quality and delivery.

It Has Apps! The InnovaMass iSeries features flow management apps driven by our new Raptor II OS that will empower your process and save you time and money.

  • ValidCal Diagnostics™ for field calibration verification and meter health checks
  • FlowPro™ vastly improves low flow measurement accuracy
  • MeterTuning™ cancels noise, improves accuracy
  • Dial-A-Pipe™ allows you to quickly change pipe sizes in the field
  • Dial-A-Fluid™ measures a variety of fluids whenever you choose
  • qMix™ makes/measures custom mixtures
  • Many more apps to come…

Watch iSeries Product Video       View iSeries Sizing Program