Tag Archives: Thermal Energy/BTU

Introducing Our New InnovaSonic 207i Ultrasonic Liquid Flow Meter

For Liquid Flow Metering, Optimized for Thermal Energy/ BTU

Sierra is proud to announce the new InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic liquid flow meter with thermal energy/BTU capability.  Designed, built and calibrated by Sierra in Monterey, California for non-intrusive liquid flow metering, and optimized for thermal energy/BTU measurement, the 207i transit-time ultrasonic flow meter is the ideal turnkey solution for building and district metering, and submetering.

The 207i is the first transit-time ultrasonic flow meter to come with a comprehensive software app package. Use apps for easy setup, field upgrades, and validation of hardware and firmware.  Watch video for more information.

Experience InnovaSonic® 207i Innovation

  • High Accuracy: Real-time dynamic density and heat capacity calculation as liquid temperature changes
  • Ease-of-use and installation with software apps
  • Clamp-on or insertion/optional RTDs for Thermal Energy/BTU
  • Entire system calibrated as a package
  • Flow range from 0.16 to 40 feet/sec (0.05 to 12 meters/sec)
  • Pipe sizes from 2 to 236 inches (50 to 6000 mm)

With the launch of the InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic today, Sierra is now only USA company to design and manufacture what we call the BIG-3 flow measurement technologies– Immersible Thermal, Vortex Shedding, and Transit-Time Ultrasonic.

Stay tuned, in the weeks to come, there will be more Sierra BIG-3 news to share.

Get to know our new InnovaSonic 207i today.

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.

Flow Energy Management: 3 Killer Apps To Lower Energy Costs

More and more, buzz words like “flow energy” or “flow energy management” have become prevalent as companies grapple to control costs, reduce energy use, and comply with government regulations—all while trying to increase profitability. But what are flow energy and flow energy management? Why should you care?

In this three-part series, we will:

  • Explore what flow energy is
  • Discuss the applications and flow meters that really impact the bottom line
  • Give tips and tricks for using flow meters to improve energy efficiency
  • Look at real-world examples of managing flow energy and how they have benefited from this practice

3 Killer Apps to Lower Energy Costs With Efficient Flow Energy Management

Flow energy is defined as flows that are critical to your facility’s every day operation.  In other words, continuous flows that cost money. These flows include natural gas, compressed air, water, and steam.

Facilities managers often have the challenging task of managing all the flow energy in their facility. Since none of these commodities are “free,” they must strive to measure their “energy” usage accurately, determine the processes that use the most energy, and make them more efficient. These initiatives contribute directly to the bottom line.

The challenge is deciding which flow meter technology should be used for each fluid. In this first part of our blog series, we look at the best measurement applications (or “killer apps”) for optimal flow energy management for gas, liquid, and steam measurement and explore the best flow meter technology for each.

Killer App #1: Natural Gas And Compressed Air Measurement

Natural gas and compressed air measurement hit the top of the list for “killer apps” that almost every facility must measure and manage. Many facilities use natural gas for burner control in manufacturing or to fire boilers to produce steam or hot water. Facilities may require tracking of gas distribution, allocation, and billing.

compressed air

All images courtesy of Sierra Instruments

Regardless of the application, facilities managers must have precise natural gas measurements to efficiently manage flow energy and thus lower energy costs.

Compressed air is another expensive flow energy, requiring energy-intensive compressors to produce it. Facilities managers are often tasked with conducting compressed air usage audits to determine compressor efficiency, find leaks in the system, and balance distribution and allocation.

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 could be an option, but they don’t measure direct mass flow. Both technologies are prone to clogging.

The mass flow advantage

Thermal mass flow meters are ideal for natural gas combustion and allocation applications 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.

Measuring compressed air presents its own challenges. In many facilities, usage 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. Thermal flow meters have a very wide turndown (100:1) to handle these fluctuations. Further, they have little to no pressure drop. The facility has already paid to have the air compressed, so needless pressure drop is wasted money.

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.

how thermal mass flow meter works

Figure 1. Thermal mass flow principle of operation

The amount of heat lost depends on the thermal properties of the fluid and the flow rate of the fluid. Thus, by measuring the temperature difference between the thermal and temperature sensors, the flow rate can be determined (Figure 1).

New developments in four-sensor thermal technology, coupled with stable “dry sense” sensor technology and advanced thermodynamic modeling algorithms, enable some thermal flow meters to attain +/-0.5 percent of reading accuracy, rivaling the accuracy of Coriolis flow meters at a fraction of the cost (Figure 2). On board, software apps also enable gas mixing capability, in-situ validation, and dial-a-pipe.

four-sensor thermal technology

Figure 2. QuadraTherm® insertion thermal flow meter with four-sensor thermal technology

Advantages of thermal mass flow meters for gases:

  • Direct mass flow measurement of gases eliminates the need for temperature or pressure compensation
  • Accuracy +/- 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
  • Software applications for easy set-up, in-situ calibration, dial-a-pipe, and gas mixing
  • Digital communications suite

Killer App #2: Steam Production, Distribution, & Allocation

Steam is used almost everywhere in industry, from process flows in chemical plants and refineries to geothermal steam in energy production. The steam produced by a boiler must be measured in order to optimize boiler efficiency. Steam is used to heat buildings, in food processing, and in heating water. Even nuclear power plants use the steam produced from the heat of the nuclear fission.

multivariable insertion vortex flow meter

Figure 3. Multivariable insertion vortex flow meters are ideal for saturated and supersaturated steam 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.

Multivariable vortex flow meters increase accuracy

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 (Figure 3). 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. Therefore, mass steam flow measurement is 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.

For decades, vortex technology has been a stable and proven measurement technology for gas, liquid, and steam applications. Vortices are forces of nature, “swirls” formed as a fluid moves past an obstruction, like water flowing around a rock in a stream or the wind past a flagpole. In a vortex meter, a sensor tab flexes from side to side as each vortex flows past, producing a frequency output that is directly proportional to the flow rate (Figure 4). Multivariable mass flow is achieved when a temperature sensor is immersed in the flow stream to measure the temperature of the flowing gas, liquid or steam, while a pressure sensing port leads up to a pressure transducer. Advanced onboard software apps allow for easy set-up, meter tuning, and validation for ease of use.

vortex principle of operation

Figure 4. Vortex sensor cutaway showing vortex principle of operation

Advantages of multivariable vortex flow meters for steam measurement:

  • Multivariable: mass flow rate, volumetric flow rate, density, pressure, temperature
  • Accuracy of up to 0.7 percent of reading; 30:1 turndown
  • Dynamic density calculation improves steam metering accuracy
  • Hot-tap probe retractor for easy steam installation
  • Onboard software Apps like meter set up, in-situ calibration/validation, tuning

Killer App #3: Water & BTU Measurement

Water is also an expensive flow energy and limited resource. Many facilities measure water flows to verify billing, determine leakage rates, and measure influent and effluent flow. Another growing application is thermal flow energy measurement. Facilities must spend money to produce hot and chilled water for process uses or HVAC. This thermal energy must be measured for distribution, allocation, and billing.

There are of course many ways to measure water flow. Turbine or propeller meters are common but have moving parts that are prone to clogging. Vortex meters are also widely used but stop working at low flows. Magnetic flow meters are in use worldwide but cannot measure the de-ionized water that can be found in some process industries.

Clamp-On Ultrasonic Liquid Flow Meters Offer Ease of Use & Flexibility

Clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters are ideal for water flow applications. They achieve high accuracy at low and high flows, save time with no pipe cutting or process shutdown, and are not affected by external noise.

Coupled with temperature sensors on the “hot” and “cold” legs, the thermal energy gained or lost can be measured (Figure 5). This has widespread usage in distributed and district energy, where central heating and cooling plants provide HVAC to the entire facility.

clamp-on ultrasonic liquid flow meter

Figure 5. Clamp-on ultrasonic liquid flow meter with thermal energy/BTU capability

In a transit-time ultrasonic liquid flow meter, an ultrasonic signal is transmitted in the direction of the flowing fluid downstream, and then another signal is transmitted against the flowing fluid upstream (Figure 6). In its most basic form, the time for the sonic pulse to travel downstream is compared to the time for the pulse to travel upstream. This differential time is then used to calculate the velocity of the flowing fluid. The meter then uses this fluid velocity to calculate the volumetric flow rate in the pipe. BTU energy measurement can be derived from the volumetric flow rate and the temperature difference between the hot and cold legs.

New developments in ultrasonic technology coupled with modern software applications allow for real-time liquid density compensation for improved accuracy and setup functions with a visual signal for a correct installation.

Transit-time ultrasonic principle of operation

Figure 6. Transit-time ultrasonic principle of operation

Advantages of ultrasonic flow meters for water/BTU measurement:

  • Clamp-on or insertion transducers measure bi-directional flow
  • One meter for a wide range of pipe sizes from 2 to 236 inches (5.0cm to 6.0M)
  • Accuracy +/- 0.5 percent of reading from 0.16 to 40 ft/s (0.05 to 12 m/s)
  • Clamp-on or insertion PT 100 temperature inputs for thermal energy/BTU measurement
  • Software apps for easy set up for optimal signal strength

Putting it all together — Complete flow energy management solution

Most facilities managers must find the right flow meters to measure at least one and often all three of these “killer apps” to successfully manage the flow energy in their facility. Determining the best flow meter technology for the flow energy management of gas, liquid, and steam applications depends on specific measurement goals, fluid, flow rate, turndown requirements, temperature, and pressure. To outfit a facility, it’s essential to work with a proven flow measurement company with a team of experts in each flow meter technology.

The best case scenario is to deal with one flow meter company to specify and support instrumentation for all your gas, liquid, and steam flow measurements. This would mean one point-of-contact for product specification and installation, one operating system for easy integration, and one local support team over the lifetime of the product.

Advantages of one complete flow energy solution:

  • One company and point-of-contact for product specification for all gas, liquid, and steam flow meters
  • One commissioning team for all three technologies
  • Specialized, local support team for all three technologies
  • Shared software applications and operating system for easy integration
  • Localized calibration expertise and assets to ensure accuracy over the lifetime of the product

Next week in part 2, we will look at flow energy devices and discuss installation tips & tricks for three common energy flow measurement solutions. Proper flow meter installation is key to ensuring optimum performance of the instrument within the application. Next week’s blog considers tips and tricks to overcome common flow measurement challenges.

Want information on Sierra’s one complete flow energy solution? Click here.

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

 

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.