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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Why do we all (at least most of us) like candy, soda, cookies and cake? All these products contain sugar which makes it taste real good. But where does this sugar come from? All green plants make sugar through photosynthesis. Of all plants, sugar beets and sugar cane contain the greatest quantities of sugar; that’s why we usually use these two plants to extract sugar. In this blog we focus on the processing of sugar beets and the role that Bronkhorst flow meters have in this process.
Convergence Industry B.V. is a supplier of customized measurement and control systems for liquids and gases. In the process of getting sugar from sugar beets one of the customers of Convergence discovered that by using membrane filtration, it was possible to extract more components out of the sugar beet than sugar alone. For this a customized lab scale system for nano filtration was used.
Membrane filtrations is a high-quality purification process using sophisticated techniques. How does this work? A simple explanation of membrane filtration is comparing it with making coffee. If you pour water in a coffee filter filled with coffee beans, you want coffee as a result without the shell of the coffee bean. That’s what the filter is for. On another level this is similar to water filtration where you want to filter the ions so you can make drinking water out of seawater. As simple as that!
Collaboration with Convergence for membrane filtration
For the membrane filtration a ‘Convergence inspector Colossus’can be used. This is a fully automated customized lab scale system for nano filtration which makes it interesting. Felix Broens (Chief Technology Officer of Convergence Industry B.V.) explains how this system works:
”The nanofiltration system is fed with water in which a phosphatefree anti scalant is dosed. Using a high pressure pump the system is pressurized, causing a part of the water to pass to the membrane (permeate). The part of the water that cannot pass through the membrane (retentate) is led back to where the water has been fed. An extra pump in the recirculation conduit causes a higher velocity across the surface of the membrane, which reduces pollution on the membrane itself. The permeate can eventually be used as clean water for different applications.”
“The anti scalant is used to prevent scaling on the membrane, by forming a complex of metal-containing ions, which keeps them in the retentate stream so that they can be led out of the system. Because of using a phosphate free and biodegradable anti scalant, it doesn’t have any harmful effects on the environment.”
Bronkhorst flow meters in membrane filtration
The heart of the nanofiltration system is a Bronkhorst Coriolis mass flow meter for controlling the process. It uses a Coriolis flow meter because it can measure density as well, which is important in case of sugary solutions. The flow meter is placed at the ‘clean’ side of the process, so behind the membrane where the permeate flow takes place (the purified product flow). The degree of separation of the membrane can be influenced by both flow speed and pressure. And thus a Coriolis flow meter with a wide range is the best option to cover a large test range.
This Convergence system has made it possible for their customer to improve their process enormously. Before using the Convergence system it was a manual process that was rather time consuming and not always accurate. Nowadays the whole process is automated using client-specific Convergence software which makes it possible to accurately control the Coriolis mass flow meter with the pump and therefore, the permeate flow can now be controlled accurately and fast. This results in a good reproducibility, reliability, datalogging and shorter lead times for the experiment compared to as it was before. This customized lab scale system makes it possible to generate a sufficient amount of residue for testing purposes without making it necessary to upscale the process to a pilot plant.
Check out the Coriolis flow meters available for this application:
Contact Convergence for more information about membrane filtration
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Anglian Water Services cleans water to the highest standard, delivers it to millions of homes, and carefully manages it to ensure it never runs out in an area of the UK. They started a project to optimize and further control dosing of phosphates in the public water system.
The functionality of orthophosphoric acid in the public water system
Public water systems commonly add phosphates to the drinking water as a corrosion inhibitor to prevent the leaching of lead and copper from pipes and fixtures. Inorganic phosphates (e.g. phosphoric acid, zinc phosphate, and sodium phosphate) are added to the water to create orthophosphate, which forms a protective coating of insoluble mineral scale on the inside of service lines and household plumbing. The coating serves as a liner that keeps corrosion elements in water from dissolving some of the metal in the drinking water. As a result, lead and copper levels in the water will remain low and within the norms to protect the public health..
What was the original process ?
In the original process a down-steam analyser was in-place to measure the concentration of orthophosphoric acid in the main flow. The measurement results were checked against the required concentration and used to adjust the pump speed and therefore the level of orthophosphoric acid in the main flow. With this process Anglian Water Services can secure copper and lead concentration levels in the water acceptable to protect the public health. Nevertheless the process had room for improvement, which will be discussed in this blog.
The original process of record
What are the limitations in the original process?
The reactive feed-back loop mechanism for dosing phosphates was not a preferred working method. We could not react quickly enough to the changing main flow to reduce or increase the dose proportionally. We had to ensure that we dosed to a level meeting the legal requirements assuming the station was processing maximum flow.
Secondary costs were added to the system by needing double redundancy on the analyser to ensure there is no break in the measurement of orthophosphoric acid levels.
- Reducing phosphate levels.
- Reducing the cost of meeting legal environmental standards for the business.
- Remove the downstream analyser and redundant spare in the process of record.
Two sensor technologies were evaluated to enhance the process ; Differential Pressure and Coriolis technology.
The Differential Pressure instrument was the most cost effective and allowed us to meter the Orthophosphoric acid flow as a volume, it would take an analogue signal input and adjust the dose proportionally to the main flow.
The Coriolis Mass Flow Meter utilizes direct Mass Flow Measurement, which is preferable over volume flow for this application and is more accurate and repeatable, but is more expensive. It would also take an analogue signal input and adjust the dose proportionally to the main flow.
Combination of mini CORI-FLOW with Tuthill pump
Making a decision appeared to be based around return on investment. Essentially the time taken to generate sufficient savings. However, during the demonstration of the Coriolis Mass Flow Meter we learned something new that would change the direction of our final design. The Coriolis Mass Flow Meter gave the density of the fluid being metered as an output.
Why was this important?
Phosphoric acid it sold in diluted concentrations , usually 80% in solution. What we have found is that there is a variation in the actual concentration at the point of use.
At this point we already knew that either the Differential pressure or Coriolis technology could support us to enhance the process of record. Now we had the chance to go to the next level and take a previously unavailable but very important parameter and use it to really refine the dose ratio.
The extra density parameter available with the Coriolis Mass Flow Meter made the decision for us. Dosing would now be controlled proportionally to the main flow and the density/quality of the phosphoric acid being used.
The enhanced process
What are the projected benefits using Mass Flow Meters:
As we look to go live on the first five installations of this technology, we are projecting the following:
- Stable concentration of orthophosphoric acid in the public water system.
- Maintaining the public health commitments of the Water Industry.
- Decreasing the addition of phosphoric acid into the environment by significant levels.
- Two-fold cost reductions: by eliminating the down-stream analysers and the consumption of phosphoric acid.
At Anglian Water Services they live with a Love Every Drop approach. The Love Every Drop approach is a vision for how they believe a modern utilities company should be run. That vision means creating a country with a resilient environment that enables sustainable growth and can cope with the pressures of climate change. Creating infrastructure that is affordable and reliable, meeting the needs of customers, communities and the environment. We want our people and our communities to be resilient too. Phosphoric acid is connected with the concept of planetary boundaries according to Rockström et al. 2009. Anglian Water Services was able to reduce the consumption of phosphoric acid in their processes without sacrificing the quality of the water. This fits with the way they run their business.
Our water treatment specialist are more than happy to help you face your challenges in water treatment. Send us your questions
Contact our Water Treatment Specialists
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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.
A direct translation of the word ‘accreditation’ is providing trust. To measure this form of trust, standards are made to measure the expertise, impartiality and the level of continuous improvement of an organization. Laboratories that are accredited to the international standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 have demonstrated that they are technically competent and able to produce precise and accurate test and/or calibration data.
Why are precise and accurate measurements important? For an example: If you pay the bill at the fuel station you trust that the amount you have to pay is an accurate equivalent of the amount of fuel which you filled-up. The same counts for many additional processes in which measurement equipment are used to secure the outcome of your process. An ISO/IEC 17025:2005 test certificate is the highest international level of calibration security which can be provided for measurement equipment. Bronkhorst is a proud owner of an accredited in-house ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Calibration Centre (BCC).
In this week’s blog I would like to take you with me to get a glance at our Bronkhorst Calibration Centre (BCC). This has been accredited since 2010 for gas, pressure and liquid flow calibration services.
For this, I followed Mandy Westhoff, one of our calibration centre operators, during her daily routines to get a realistic view on the activities of the calibration centre.
Why do flow meters have to be calibrated?
In general, all flow meters will be calibrated as a final step in production. The instrument with certain parameters will be compared with a fixed reference in certain environmental conditions, to provide real flow measurements.
Measuring equipment is used to secure the outcome of a process, process owners have to be able to rely on these measurements where high accuracy and – more and more – traceability play an important role, for example in the Pharmaceutical market. It is a way of risk management.
Throughout the years, we have noticed a distinctive increase in ISO/IEC17025:2005 calibrations in our calibration centre. An ISO/IEC 17025 calibration is often required as this is the highest level of calibration available in the market.
What kind of calibrations can be done in the calibration centre?
The Bronkhorst Calibration Centre is an independent department within the Bronkhorst organization and therefore not subjected to any commercial influences whatsoever.
It can be said that the tasks of the calibration centre are twofold:
- The BCC acts as an in-house lab which maintains all calibration standards used within the Bronkhorst organisation.
- The BCC acts as an external calibration lab which performs ISO/IEC 17025:2005 calibrations for anyone who wants this certification on their instruments, for both Bronkhorst instruments and other brands. Moreover, the BCC can perform adjustments on new and existing flow meters and controllers and calibration devices.
The Bronkhorst Calibration Centre, an external calibration lab
The scope of the calibration centre includes calibration of gas flow, liquid flow and pressure.
About 60-70% of the performed ISO/IEC 17025:2005 calibrations are ‘as found’ calibrations on used instruments. Many of our customers, especially in the Pharmaceutical market, Universities and Automotive industry, will send their instruments once a year for calibration. So they have a reliable instrument calibrated according to the highest level of calibration security which they can use as a reference for their own calibrations on-site.
To offer the highest standard of precise and accurate test and/or calibration data the environment of the laboratory is fully controlled. The calibration will be executed in a high-tech lab under conditioned circumstances by 21°C ± 2°C and a humidity of 50 ± 20%, which is outstanding. Even sunlight through the windows has been avoided and movement of people has been minimised as much as possible. Non-authorized personnel is not allowed to enter the calibration centre.
Can you explain the calibration process in the calibration centre?
After the acclimatisation process and setup, the operator will conduct a leakage test using the Flowbus Piston Prover (FPP). This test will be done prior to every calibration as a security check to maintain the high level of quality assurance.
After approval of the environmental conditions, the calibration starts. A standard calibration is performed on several measurement points. On these measuring points the accuracy of the instrument will be determined.
After a successful calibration the instrument is provided with a label mentioning the date of calibration and certificate number, so all can be traced back to the calibration dossier. The BCC coordinator will check if everything is done by protocol and all ISO/IEC 17025:2005 calibration dossiers will be sent to the BCC Officer to perform a final check.
How about training?
All our calibration operators are trained to perform gas, as well as pressure and liquid calibrations according to the ISO/IEC17025:2005 standard. Furthermore, we are taught how to maintain calibration devices, such as cleaning glass tubes and the chemicals which are used for calibration procedures.
Is it dangerous to do this type of work?
Training is the most important part. All our operators are highly competent and skilled employees. But still, all activities are primarily centered on human work. To keep the risk level as low as possible, everything is monitored closely during the calibration process and all materials used are checked on a regular base.
What makes your job interesting?
You never have a dull moment in this job, every day is different. The service you provide is always different, because it is customer specific. It is a nice idea that you can contribute to a successful customer’s process.
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.