The automotive industry is the biggest industry in the world. Some quick facts:
• Approximately 99 million motor vehicles are produced per year (source: European Automobile Manufacturers Association).
• The world’s largest car-producing countries are China, Japan, Germany, India and South Korea (2017).
• There is a large discrepancy in the average annual distance travelled by car between countries. In the US, this figure is around 21,500 km/year. In Europe, the average is 12,000 km/year (source: Odyssee).
• On average, a car has 30,000 parts (source: Netstar).
A lot of people go to their work and on holiday by car. I do as well. I use my car every day, but while driving to Ruurlo, I had never realised that the flow meters which we develop have been used to produce my car. Did you? Inspired by that realisation, I discovered that our flow meters play a role in a lot of applications in the automotive industry; probably not in all 30,000 parts, but for sure in some of them. I have therefore collected three interesting applications of flow meters in the automotive industry to share with you.
1. Accurate dosing of release agent
In its automotive department, a major company manufactures ‘skin’ that covers a car's dashboard to give it a ‘leather look’. This skin is produced by spraying liquid, coloured polyurethane into a nickel mould. To allow easy skin release from the mould without any damage, an external release agent has to be applied onto the mould surface prior to spraying the polyurethane. Bronkhorst was requested to supply a [suitable mass flow controller](http://www.bronkhorst.com/int/markets/miscellaneous-applications/application-note-a075-gp03-accurate-dosing-of-release-agent/ ) in order to dose this release agent.
2. Valve seat testing
Valve manufacturers check any metal-to-metal valve seats using pressure degradation methods. Since the new generation of car engines are running on higher pressures, the manufacturers are in need of new methods for leak testing to keep up with customer needs. Recently, Bronkhorst has been successfully involved with manufacturers of [valves and valve seat testing machines](http://www.bronkhorst.com/int/markets/miscellaneous-applications/application-note-a056-gp03-valve-seat-testing/ ) to implement low-flow measurement as an alternative method for a better performance.
3. Simulation of exhaust gas to test lambda probe
Each modern car with a combustion engine has a self-controlling way to optimise engine performance. A lambda probe, a sensor positioned in the exhaust section of the car, measures the oxygen content of the car exhaust gases. This oxygen content, the ‘lambda value’, is a measure for the effectiveness of the combustion process in a car’s engine. The research department of a car producer needs to test the performance of these lambda probes with several exhaust gas compositions. To this end, they built an artificial exhaust line in which they do not use real exhaust gas but simulate the composition of car exhaust gases. They asked Bronkhorst to deliver [mass flow controllers](http://www.bronkhorst.com/int/markets/miscellaneous-applications/application-note-a069-gp03-simulation-of-exhaust-gas-to-test-lambda-probe/ ) for this purpose.
Renewable energy in the automotive industry
Next to these applications at car manufacturers (or suppliers to the automotive industry), Bronkhorst instruments are also used by universities that join competitions or are doing research into renewable fuel sources for the automotive industry. For example, Green Team Twente is trying to build the most efficient hydrogen car. In this blog, they tell more about their research.
In addition, Solar Team Twente participates in the World Solar Challenge every two years. Participating teams are challenged to design a car that drives 3,000 kilometers from North to South Australia in a maximum of six days, purely on solar energy. Bronkhorst sponsors this team. Read more in our news article.
A third renewable energy source being researched is formic acid (Hydrozine). In her blog, Lotte Pleging of Team FAST explains why they believe in formic acid (HCOOH) as a suitable candidate to replace fossil fuels and what the role of the Bronkhorst thermal mass flow meters is in the process of generating this renewable fuel. Read more below.
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Fish consumption is rising. With the increase of the world population and the need for nutritious food, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives to “a nice slice of meat”. And they end up eating more fish or vegetarian food.
Specific species of wild fish are getting more and more scarce in open water due to the huge impact of industrialised fishing fleets and overfishing. The sea can not provide the increasing demand. Fortunately, in a trend towards sustainable food production, fish farming is gaining increasingly interest.
Fish farming is the aquatic peer of farming cows, sheep or chicken. For many, many years, we as humans have been farming our main food - have it grown in greenhouses, in stables, or in the fields. Whatever we need, we try to fulfil our demand - more and more in a sustainable way, with respect for natural resources. Fish farming is heading in the same trend.
When people hear about fish farms, they might think of an aquarium, a little pond or a floating net. But in Norway, a major player in fish farming, people think on a larger scale. A typical fish cage near the Norwegian coast has a diameter of tens of meters containing 200,000 to 300,000 salmon. In the near future, these designs will upscale to 1 or 2 million salmon. Only in Norway, at the beginning of 2018 more than 3500 cages for fish farming were floating in the sea. And ‘Norway’ is expanding their knowledge and technology across the world, where people are interested in large scale harvesting of fish in the sea - or maybe also on land.
Salmon is a typical example of a fish that can be fish farmed. They need cold water - seven to nine degrees Celsius is what they like most - which is why this aquaculture is happening in the northern hemisphere, off-shore in the fjords. Moreover: salmon is a very popular fish, often found on the menu all around the world - so there is a high demand.
In fish farming, aeration is literally of vital importance. In addition to food, the fish need oxygen that is supplied in the form of tiny air bubbles (‘aerated’) to the water. But aeration has more advantages.
Also in the early days, lice were a major disease that salmon suffered from. Since salmon lice had an impact on harvest, the fish farmers had to look for solutions. For some reason - maybe it was an experiment or it happened by accident - they started to purge air from the bottom of the cage. And they observed that the movement of the fish started to change. Instead of circling day in and day out - as salmon normally do - they started to move around the cage and became more agile. If the salmon are more agile, the muscles have to work more, and meat from moving animals has a better quality. At the same time, the fish farmers detected that aeration helped them to create a more thermal friendly water environment, with an advantageous temperature, conditions and amount of oxygen. With result that the occurrence of salmon lice reduced. So aeration had - and still has - two advantages: improving the salmon quality, and reducing the unwanted lice. By the way: the words purging and aeration have the same meaning. ‘Aeration’ has the word air inside.
Aeration of fish farms using mass flow controllers
The process of aeration is very simple - like in any aquarium you have at home - and yet can lead to very nice results as we saw above. The air bubbles can be generated by natural water currents (off-shore, down-hill), pumps, impellers, variable area flow meters or - as we do at Bronkhorst - by mass flow controllers and compressors. Here, a compressor generates compressed air from the surrounding atmosphere, and feeds this to the mass flow controller for controlled aeration of the water in the fish cages.
To run fish farms remotely controlled and without much manpower, as much automation as possible is required. This also involves automated feeding. When the fish are fed, the air purging needs to be interrupted to give the fish the opportunity to hunt for the food before it floats out of the cage. In between the feeding periods, the aeration improves the condition of the water and the salmon. Here, it helps that mass flow controllers are remotely controlled from the control room at land. The aeration is stopped when the feeding starts, and when the feeding is over, the previous set point will automatically return and the water condition is as stable as it was before.
But there is more: mass flow controllers provide a potential for saving energy due to better conditions in the cage. The accuracy of the devices is important here. Every cubic meter of air you save by being more accurate - faster control or opening of valves - is of direct influence to your costs for running the compressor. Moreover, in stormy weather you can reduce the aeration, but during a long dry period without water movement, more air bubbles are needed. So essentially, this accuracy and flexibility leads to a better controlled environment.
With MASS-STREAM mass flow controllers we have a robust instrument, which is performing well in the harsh northern surroundings. By Bronkhorst standards, this kind of aeration is a ‘high flow’. Typical air flows for a fish cage are in the range between 600 and 1400 liters per minute.
Mass flow controllers for other types of aeration
Mass flow controllers are suitable for other types of aeration - also again in aquaculture and agriculture. If you grow salmon, you need to breed the fish, which normally occurs on land. Fish eggs and young fish are even more vulnerable to changes, so the environment has to be more stable than for grown fish. Depending on the type of fish, the balance of oxygen in the water is delicate and has to be controlled accurately.
In algae farming, carbon dioxide gas is one of the food components for these species to grow, which needs to be supplied under defined conditions.
A very well-known application of aeration is in food & beverage industry. As you might know, every soda or carbonised drink is a liquid purged with carbon dioxide gas. Related to that: when packaging food, the packaging is purged with nitrogen to remove the oxygen before the food enters the packaging, as one of the steps to prolong the shelf life of the food.
“Fish farming with controlled aeration by mass flow controllers will support the focus on good fish quality, control of diseases and increase of the yield” according to Nicolaus Dirscherl, Managing Director of M+W Instruments GmbH.
For more information about the usage of mass flown controller in a fish farming application, please check our application story Aeration in Fish Farming.
Check out the products used in this application.
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A Coriolis mass flow meter is known as a very accurate instrument and it has many benefits compared to other measuring devices. However, every measuring principle has its challenges, as also the Coriolis principle. It can be a real challenge using Coriolis instruments in low flow applications in the heavy industry where you may have to deal with all kinds of vibrations. In this blog I would like to share my experiences with you regarding this topic.
The Coriolis principle
Coriolis mass flow meters offer many benefits above other measuring devices. First of all Coriolis flow instruments measure direct mass flow. This is an important feature for the industry as it eliminates inaccuracies caused by the physical properties of the fluid. Besides this benefit, Coriolis instruments are very accurate, have a high repeatability, have no moving mechanical parts and have a high dynamic range, etc.
Read more about the importance of mass flow measurement and the relevance of Coriolis technology in a previous blog.
Do vibrations influence the measuring accuracy of a Coriolis mass flow meter?
In industrial applications, all kinds of vibrations with different amplitudes are very common. A Coriolis meter measures a mass flow using a vibrating sensor tube, which fluctuation gets intentionally out of phase when the fluid flows through. As explained in the video [link] at the end of this article.
This measurement technique is somewhat sensitive to unwanted vibrations with a frequency close to the resonance frequency of the sensor tube (this depends on the sensor tube design, e.g. 360 Hz) or a higher harmonic of this frequency (see picture below).
The likelihood of the occurrence of these unwanted vibrations is higher in an industrial environment. Coriolis flow meter manufacturers do their utmost to reduce the influence of vibrations on the measured value by use of common technical solutions, such as using:
- higher driving frequencies
- dual sensor tubes
- different sensor shapes
- mass intertia (e.g. mass blocks)
- passive and active vibration compensation
So yes, vibrations can influence the measuring accuracy of your Coriolis flow meter, but only if the vibrations have a frequency close to the resonance frequency. What can you do about this? This depends on the kind of vibration.
What kinds of vibrations do exist?
In an industry zone frequencies can be generated by:
- environmentally related vibration sources (such as: truck, rail transportation, industry activities)
- building-based vibration sources (mechanical and electrical installations, like air conditioning) or
- usage-based vibration sources (installed equipment and machines, e.g. pumps, conveyor belts).
These vibrations travel through a medium like the floor, in the air, through pipes or the fluid itself. If these vibrations disturb the Coriolis frequency, the measured flow could be incorrect in some extent.
To minimise the effects of vibration it is useful to identify these sources. Sometimes, it is possible to move the flow meter just a little bit, turn it (Coriolis flow meters are in most cases less sensitive to vibrations if the meter is rotated 90 degrees), make use of a big(ger) mass block, use flexible tubes or U-bend metal tubes or use suspension alternatives.
How could you check the performance of a Coriolis flow meter?
A well performing flow meter and controller will give the best process result. Therefore, it is advisable to test a Coriolis flow meter in your application if you expect heavy industrial vibrations before you trust it to the full extent. Be careful when filtering the measuring signal. In some cases it makes sense (e.g. when a quick response isn’t required), but if you want to test the performance of a flow meter, filtering could blur your judgement.
If in specific circumstances the Coriolis flow meter isn’t performing the way it should, the operator will see a shift in the process output – for example in an application dosing colour to a detergent it can result in differences in product colour by incorrect dosing and/or unexpected measuring signal behaviour. In these cases it makes sense to check the raw measuring signal (without filters!), because it will give you a good insight in the performance of the flow meter. Ask your flow meter manufacturer how to switch off all signal filtering.
Standards regarding vibrations
Remarkably, the influence of external vibrations is not clearly defined in a standard for Coriolis flow meters. Several standards are written about vibrations, but none in respect to measuring accuracy in relation to vibrations. However, two useful standards in relation to vibration are:
- IEC60068-2, Environmental testing for electronic equipment regarding safety
- MIL STD 810, Environmental engineering considerations regarding shock, transport and use
As a user of Coriolis flow meters it is important to understand your application, especially about potential external vibration sources. As low flow Coriolis specialist we work together with knowledge partners like the University of Twente and TNO (a Dutch organization for applied scientific research) to get a continuous improved understanding of this topic.
With in-house test facilities we are able to do special vibration tests. Together with the experience we gained from customer applications and custom made solutions, we are always aiming for improving our Coriolis flow meters to give our customers the best performance they need.
Watch our video explaining the Coriolis principle
Learn more about the Coriolis measuring principle
Read more about the importance of mass flow measurement and the relevance of Coriolis technology in a previous blog.
Check out our success story using Coriolis mass flow controllers for odorisation of our natural gas.
Anhydrous Ammonia Control for Nitrogen Oxides Reduction
As a technique to reduce the level of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) in boiler or furnace exhaust gases, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) has been around for years. SCR is a technology which converts Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) with the aid of a catalyst into diatomic Nitrogen (N2) and Water (H2O). A reductant agent is injected into the exhaust stream through a special catalyst. A typical reductant used here is Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3).
A customer of Bronkhorst, who has been selling and servicing boilers and pumps for commercial and industrial applications for over 50 years, had been using a mass flow controller (MFC) which was not reliable and robust enough for the application and thus their customers were suffering from poor ammonia measurement and control.
Why use mass flow measurement in Ammonia Control?
Some NOx reduction systems are liquid ammonia based, and others are gas based ammonia. Whatever the state of the ammonia in the NOx reduction system Bronkhorst can offer accurate ammonia measurement and control. Systems in the field today are using the MASS-STREAM (gas), IN-FLOW (gas) and Mini CORI-FLOW (liquid) to accurately control the ammonia being injected into the exhaust gas stream so that proper reaction takes place without ammonia slip. Ammonia slip is when too much ammonia is added to the process and it is exhausted, un-reacted, from the system; effectively sending money out the exhaust stack.
There are very strict federal and state air quality regulations that specify the allowable level of NOx which can be released into the atmosphere and there can be very heavy fines if those levels are exceeded. The company needs to provide their customers with a reliable and robust solution. The application demands a robust and repeatable mass flow controller that is at home in industrial environments.
What kind of Mass Flow Meter or Controller can be used here?
In the NOx reduction system serviced by our customer the mass flow controllers are used to control the flow of anhydrous ammonia (ammonia in gas state) into the exhaust gas of a boiler or furnace where it is adsorbed onto a catalyst. The exhaust gas reacts with the catalyst and ammonia which converts the Nitrogen Oxides into Nitrogen and Water.
Bronkhorst recommended a mass flow controller – from the MASS-STREAM series - using the CTA (Constant Temperature Anemometer) technology which is ideal to avoid clogging in potentially polluted industrial gas applications.
Let me explain a bit about the working principle of this kind of mass flow controller and why it is suitable for an application like this.
The CTA (Constant Temperature Anemometer) principle is essentially a straight tube with only two stainless steel probes (a heater and a temperature sensor) in the gas flow path. A constant temperature difference between the two probes is maintained with the power required to do so being proportional to the mass flow of the gas. This means the MASS-STREAM is less sensitive to dirt, humidity, or other contaminants in the gas, as compared to a by-pass type flow meter that relies on a perfect flow split between two paths. The thru-flow nature of the CTA technology is ideal to avoid clogging in potentially polluted industrial gas applications. The straight flow path and highly repeatable measurement and control capability, combined with the robust IP65 housing, allows the MASS-STREAM to thrive in tough applications.
- Watch our video animation, explaining the functions and features of the Bronkhorst Mass Flow Meters and Controllers for gases using the CTA principle.
- Check out the top 5 reasons why to use mass flow controllers with CTA measurement.
- Want to stay up to date on new flow solutions? Would you like to receive every month the latest tips in your inbox?
The Tour de France has started last week, and all cyclists have prepared for this particular event for months. But, did you ever thought about how flow measurement could be of influence on the cyclists’ performance? Here’s how……
A while ago I had the chance to visit Relitech in Nijkerk. A company that is specialized in the development and design of reliable healthcare solutions. I talked to both Directors Ivar Donker and Henk van Middendorp about the activities of Relitech in the medical industry and their Metabolic Simulator. With all their enthusiasm and dedication in their line of work, I came to new insights regarding their matter and the importance of a company like Relitech.
In sports it’s all about optimal performance. Athletes are forced to push boundaries and the devil is in the details, more than ever. A few hundreds of a second can make a huge difference in - for example - a gold medal race. So testing the athletes’ condition and endurance is an important part in the bigger picture of their performances. This can help them to train more efficiently and it provides information that can be used for maybe a change in for example, the athlete’s diet. For metabolic measuring, a lung function device could be used and these systems often easily interfaced with ECG’s, bikes and other external devices for complete, integrated cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
The big question is how to get the best performance by meeting legal regulations? Validation is the magic word. And for that, Relitech developed a metabolic simulator. Let’s take a look at some of the technical details of a device like that.
Metabolic simulator: quality control for respiratory products
In order to keep a high performance of respiratory products like lung function devices, they need to be validated, to meet the demands of legal regulations as well. The current situation in quality control regarding devices like these, is that it’s limited due to the fact that each sensor (O2, CO2 and flow) is calibrated separately, disregarding the critical dynamic interaction between each sensor. Relitech therefore came up with an in-field solution for their customers by developing this metabolic simulator.
Thermal mass flow controller
As we’re getting closer to the answer on the question I asked at the very beginning of this blog, we need to dig a little deeper into the Relitech simulator. First of all it’s fully mobile, which means it’s easy to transport and secondly it is ideal for on-site testing (in for example a lung function device used for athletes). The simulator mixes pure nitrogen and carbon dioxide by using two Bronkhorst thermal mass flow controllers. By mixing those two gases you can generate breathing gas exchange patterns, real-time and extremely close to authentic human breathing patterns. The results are so-called capnographs that resemble the ones of for example, athletes. On the readout display of the Metabolic Simulator the capnograph values are visible. V’CO2 represents the exhaled amount of carbon dioxide and V’O2 is the amount of oxygen inhaled. BF is simply an abbreviation for breathing frequency.
“Using mass flow controllers is not new to me…” Van Middendorp explains, “…as I was already involved in designing lung function systems long before I joined Relitech in 2002.”
“As we started developing the metabolic simulator here at Relitech, we were looking for compact and highly accurate mass flow controllers and that’s where Bronkhorst and I crossed paths. So partly by using these compact thermal flow controllers we were able to develop an even more compact simulator design.”
Relitech, reliable technology
With dedication and passion Relitech develops reliable technology by focusing on electronics, software and embedded software. In combination with consultancy regarding measurement technology, their core competence lies within the medical sector, such as lung function measurement, anaesthesia and hyperthermia applications. For this, the company is ISO13485 certified. By working closely with various universities and academical institutes, multinationals and small businesses they have built an impressive and very diverse customer portfolio.
Ready for the Tour de France
So, for all the athletes out there, it’s time to put on the finishing touches and get ready for 2018. Who do you think will win the Tour?
Check out the application story of quality control for respiratory products.
As a researcher at the PC2A laboratory, I deal with low flows on a daily base. The PC2A laboratory (PhysicoChimie des Processus de Combustion et de l’Atmosphère) is a multidisciplinary public research unit (CNRS/University of Lille), whose activities concern the characterization of the atmosphere and combustion physico-chemistry. Physico-chemistry in general is chemistry that deals with the physicochemical properties of substances. Bronkhorst instruments play an essential role in our researches, for measuring and controlling these substances in various researches. In this blog I will provide an explanation of our research and why we need mass flow control.
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory are related to energy and environment and are conducted by approximately sixty people divided into three research teams with their own disciplines:
1. Physical Chemistry of Combustion
Our first research team is working on the physico-chemistry of combustion. The initial goal of this research is to understand combustion chemistry, for instance how are formed pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxides ( NOx) and soot in flames. We develop detailed kinetic mechanisms of the oxidation and auto-ignition of substances, such as: biofuels, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, biomass or coal. All thanks to our large experimental platform containing flames, rapid compression machine and laser diagnostics techniques.
2. Physical Chemistry of Atmosphere
In the research team ‘Physical chemistry of the atmosphere’, we study chemical kinetics of reactions of atmospheric interest. The two main topics for us within this discipline are:
- Homogeneous and heterogeneous reactivity in the atmosphere to understand the transformation of pollutant gases and particles (pollens, soot) in the atmosphere;
- Air quality with experimental characterization and numerical simulation of indoor and outdoor environments, pollution sources and impacts on health and climate.
For these experiments we develop laboratory instruments to characterize the reactivity of important species that are involved in the atmospheric chemistry processes, especially reactive species (radicals). To perform our experiments it is essential to know precisely the amount of gas that is offered to our laboratory reactors and then the concentration of the reactants in the chemical system. For this application we use Bronkhorst mass flow controllers, the EL-FLOW Select series. These instruments allow us to easily perform parametric studies because of their fast response and high repeatability. Moreover, consistency in flow is crucial for accurate measurement.
3. Nuclear Safety: Chemical kinetics, Combustion, Reactivity
Our third team is a collaborative team between the PC2A and the Pôle de Sûreté Nucléaire (PSN) of IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire), working on issues in relation to thermodynamic and chemical reactivity of fission products. The main objective of this research is to validate the estimations of radio-contaminant products emissions in case of nuclear accident by modeling development and experimental studies.
Mass flow controllers for physico-chemistry
The PC2A laboratory uses multiple mass flow controllers of Bronkhorst. And this is not only for their specifications like a fast response and high repeatability. Also because of the easy operation of these mass flow controllers with the Labview software these instruments are ready to hand. The possibility to export data and moreover the flexibility with switching between different flow controllers, make Bronkhorst a perfect match for us. The flow instruments we use in the lab are the thermal mass flow controllers (EL-FLOW Select series) and the flow controllers with a low pressure drop ( LOW-dP-FLOW instruments).
Watch the video of the working principle of EL-FLOW select.
To learn more about the LOW-dP-FLOW, please consult the product page.