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Blisteringly fast liquid flow technique to help industry

UC researching blisteringly liquid flow technique to help industry

December 7, 2012

The University of Canterbury (UC) is researching a liquid flow measurement technique that is so blisteringly fast it opens up new applications for industry.

UC is developing a sensor that can measure the flow of fluid using pressure waves that travel at three times the speed of sound which could help in the design of jet or car engines, and also in the monitoring of all systems involving fluids. This sensor is capable of producing up to 200,000 samples a second.

The technology is also used in the development of a fault detection system for pipelines that can help in the rebuild of the Canterbury pipeline infrastructure.

Normal flow meters are very slow by comparison. The UC technology will allow preventative maintenance of pumping systems before they have costly failures and in precision dynamic fluid applications.

Flow measurement is a fairly common thing in many water and gas systems and UC researchers are inventing a new sensor with great speed and practical advantages.

UC PhD student researcher Aya Kashima, under the supervision of UC civil and natural resources engineering senior lecturer Dr Pedro Lee, is looking to fine tune the new flow meter sensor.

"Unless you measure the flow rate you cannot possibly audit how much groundwater is being used," Kashima said.

"Hydropower stations measure the flow and pressure to diagnose the operation of systems such as making sure the turbines are operating properly. These are all possible applications for the device."

Significant changes are required to install current flow meters. They have to rip out and replace a section of pipe to install it. There are associated down time and costs with this. A device like the once UC is developing does not need any changes to the system and can utilise existing pressure measurements for producing the flow rate

The accuracy of flow measurement is vital for the management of our groundwater and natural gas, for control of industrial processes and the operation of hydroelectric power systems.

The current slow sampling speed means that rapid changes in flow, such as those commonly seen in fuel injection lines or pharmaceutical processes, cannot be detected using current systems.

Kashima said the researchers were fine tuning the flow of liquid sensor in a pipeline system at their fluid mechanics laboratory on campus.

"We will continue research in 2013 so we can improve the sensor’s capabilities," she said.


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