Ultrasonic liquid flow is a popular method used in many industries because it is a non-invasive way to measure the flow of fluid.  The technology used to measure the flow rate consists of two transducers mounted on the outside of a pipe. This equipment accurately measures the fluid flow rate passing through the pipe by determining the time transient between the pulsed signal and the transducers.

Ultrasonic flow can be used in a range of applications from nuclear to sewage systems.  Properly monitoring and controlling the rate of flow can help prevent facilities from experiencing downtime and interruptions.  Whether it’s water, oil, hydro-carbons or sewage passing through the pipes, it is important to have accurate readings on the flow that is being processed to protect your facility.

Over the decades, Exelon PowerLabs has mastered ultrasonic flow calibrations. From calibrating flow meters in the most traditional methods to using the newest and latest technology, we have advanced in our capabilities to perform ultrasonic flow calibrations quickly and accurately.

Traditional Flow Meter Calibration Methods

Many traditional flow meters were often installed by cutting into the pipe and placed inside to measure the fluid’s flow rate.  In order to calibrate these flow meters, facilities would then have to temporarily shut down operations to remove the flow meter from the pipe for its calibration. After the flow meter is retrieved, it would then be sent to a metrology lab for calibration and installed into the laboratory’s flow loop to be measured.

This traditional methodology would put the flow meter at risk for mechanical wear and tear, as well as possible contamination.  Since this form of calibration was not only timely but costly, it has become a less common request for calibration.

The Progression of Flow Meter Calibration Methods

As time progressed, the evolution of ultrasonic flow measurement techniques developed and ultrasonic transducers were introduced as non-invasive method of measuring flow.  Instead of intrusively being placed in the flow path, these transducers would be mounted on the outside of the pipe.

For calibration, our technicians run a variety flow rates through the pipe to get different measured values in the volumetric values needed by the end user, run the data and record the measurements accordingly.  This process would be repeated on different pipe sizes depending on the calibration request.  The pipes sizes vary from ½ inch up to 10-inches, with different pipe types (carbon steel, stainless, etc.) and schedules (40, 80, 160, etc.) available.

In 2015, Exelon PowerLabs changed the flow transducer calibration process.  Through the use of ultrasonic flow meters, the flow rate could now be determined by programming the size and schedule of material being used for the transport of the fluid into the computer’s display of the flow meter. The technician would then compare the readings of the unit being tested to the direct flow rate of the standard loop.

While this is a valid methodology, Exelon PowerLabs investigated the true measurement provided by the flow meters and determined it was in velocity as opposed to volumetric flow.  As such, the lab began calibrating the flow meters directly in velocity as opposed to volumetric flow rates.  This allowed for the opportunity to calibrate on any size or type of pipe, while still verifying the accuracy on any type or size of pipe for the end user.  In addition to this change, PowerLabs investigated further and found new technological advances that have simplified the process even more.

The Future of Ultrasonic Flow

Within the last year, Exelon PowerLabs has adopted an even newer methodology for ultrasonic flow that is faster and more efficient with a greater accuracy.  The new method  was found by the developed working relationship with a new product line that PowerLabs had discovered some years ago known as Flexim flow meters and support equipment.  Flexim is now the preferred transducer in the Exelon fleet.  As Exelon purchased more and more Flexim products, the dialog between PowerLabs and the Flexim engineers continued to grow.  As that relationship grew, PowerLabs worked with Flexim to purchase the Aperture device that allowed for the calibration of the ultrasonic flow transducers dimensionally as opposed to utilizing a live flow loop.  The Flexim aperture device allows our technicians to reach a much higher accuracy of ultrasonic flow with the ability to easily adjust the transducers themselves.  While this device only calibrates other Flexim devices, it helps support our ultrasonic capabilities.

Exelon PowerLabs’ Advancement in Calibration

Exelon PowerLabs continues to advance and adopt new methodologies to greater our expansion in various disciplines of calibrations. Throughout the years, we have come to perfect ultrasonic flow calibrations quickly, efficiently and most importantly accurately, we continue to seek out new opportunities to enhance our laboratories.