Faster, Less Expensive Approach to Fluid Meter Design

Apr 05, 2006

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has patented a faster way to determine flow rates of liquids through channels or pipes. Its balanced flow meter provides 10 times the accuracy of standard orifice-based fluid flow meters, resulting in significant cost-savings to industries such as gas and oil refinery.

"This technology can pay for itself in two weeks by reducing the amount of power needed to pump fluids through the meters and cutting the power costs to a company," said Anthony Kelley, a lead research engineer in the integrated systems health management and sensors branch of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate.

This new approach to meter design improves on the older, standard orifice plates -- meters that regulate how much and how fast fluids move through a channel or pipe -- which are used extensively in refineries, chemical, power and pharmaceutical plants. While the standard plates have just one hole through which fluids flow, the balanced flow meter has multiple holes and requires less straight pipe to function.

Originally developed for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, gas and oil refineries are already applying and taking advantage of the technology for their industries.

"This is another outstanding example of our work with a variety of industries to move aerospace technology to the public and private sector while supporting NASA's goal of improving life on Earth," said Sammy Nabors, commercialization lead in the Marshall Center's Technology Transfer Program Office. Nabors predicts this technology will have a lasting positive impact in the gas and oil refinery industry.

The technology also has none of the moving parts that are in other metering systems, making it more reliable, less likely to malfunction and less expensive to manufacture. Other significant benefits include considerable noise reduction and its ability to be used in different systems without modifying the hardware. There are millions of standard orifice plate installations worldwide, and successful commercialization will result in replacement of those with balanced flow meter plates.

Licensed in August 2003, the technology was developed by NASA and A+Flowtek of Kingwood, Texas, a small, minority-owned business. It was originally designed for use in space shuttle main engines, where the liquid oxygen flow meter enabled better system monitoring. Further development between NASA and A+Flowtek made this invention a viable, enabling technology in many commercial applications.

The balanced flow meter technology was conceived, created and tested through the Marshall Center’s Technology Investment Program. The program, managed by the Engineering Policies and Programs Office, fosters the development of emerging in-house technologies.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Yahoo profit surges on Alibaba divestment, mobile

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Designing tomorrow's air traffic control systems

Oct 15, 2014

On a good day, flying can be a comfortable and efficient way to travel. But all too often, weather or overcbooking can cause delays that ripple through the system, inducing missed flights, anxiety, discomfort ...

NASA, partners target megacities carbon emissions

Sep 24, 2014

Driving down busy Interstate 5 in Los Angeles in a nondescript blue Toyota Prius, Riley Duren of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is a man on a mission as he surveys the vast urban ...

Seoul to provide smartphone-charging down by the stream

Aug 29, 2014

Seoul's mobile users will be able to make use of outdoor charging stations at a popular downtown stream, powered by mini-hydroelectric turbines that use the stream's current. The city is building the recharging ...

Protecting infrastructure with smarter CPS

Sep 16, 2014

Security of IT networks is continually being improved to protect against malicious hackers. Yet when IT networks interface with infrastructures such as water and electric systems to provide monitoring and control capabilities, ...

Recommended for you

Yahoo profit surges on Alibaba divestment, mobile

13 minutes ago

Yahoo said Tuesday its quarterly profit surged with its sale of shares in Chinese Internet powerhouse Alibaba, and also saw improving results from its mobile Internet initiatives.

Apple sees iCloud attacks; China hack reported

2 hours ago

Apple said Tuesday its iCloud server has been the target of "intermittent" attacks, hours after a security blog said Chinese authorities had been trying to hack into the system.

HP supercomputer at NREL garners top honor

5 hours ago

A supercomputer created by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that uses warm water to cool its servers, and then re-uses that water to heat its building, has been ...

User comments : 0