Optical Flow Meters
Optical Flow Meters use light to determine flow rate. Small particles which accompany natural and industrial gases pass through two laser beams focused a short distance apart in the flow path in a pipe by illuminating optics. Laser light is scattered when a particle crosses the first beam. The detecting optics collects scattered light on a photodetector, which then generates a pulse signal. As the same particle crosses the second beam, the detecting optics collect scattered light on a second photodetector, which converts the incoming light into a second electrical pulse. By measuring the time interval between these pulses, the gas velocity is calculated as where is the distance between the laser beams and is the time interval.
Laser-based optical flow meters measure the actual speed of particles, a property which is not dependent on thermal conductivity of gases, variations in gas flow or composition of gases. The operating principle enables optical laser technology to deliver highly accurate flow data, even in challenging environments which may include high temperature, low flow rates, high pressure, high humidity, pipe vibration and acoustic noise.
Optical flow meters are very stable with no moving parts and deliver a highly repeatable measurement over the life of the product. Because distance between the two laser sheets does not change, optical flow meters do not require periodic calibration after their initial commissioning. Optical flow meters require only one installation point, instead of the two installation points typically required by other types of meters. A single installation point is simpler, requires less maintenance and is less prone to errors.
Commercially available optical flow meters are capable of measuring flow from 0.1 m/s to faster than 100 m/s and have been demonstrated to be effective for the measurement of flare gases from oil wells and refineries, a contributor to atmospheric pollution.
How it works
Based on the laser-two-focus method, optical flow meter technology is the only laser technology to reach industrial flow metering applications. The method requires the presence of miniature droplets of condensation, lubricants, dust and other impurities in the gas stream for purpose of light scattering and consequently determining the time particles travel from one laser beam to another.
- High turndown ratio
- Measurement not affected by gas composition
- Easy to install and maintain
- Reliable and accurate
- Wide selection of enclosure options