FLEXIM Announcing the 2020 Flow Control Innovation Awards winner and honorable mentions

By District Energy posted 10-07-2020 09:58


For more than 20 years, Flow Control’s annual Innovation Awards program has recognized the latest solutions in fluid and gas handling applications. The program accepts nominations from companies that would like to submit their technology breakthroughs in process instrumentation, and the winners are determined by a reader voting process.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the awards program by nominating or voting. And, congratulations to the winner and honorees. We hope to see your solution nominated next year.

The following case studies demonstrate the technology solutions from the 2020 Innovation Awards winner and honorable mentions.

Fleximfluxus Steam
Nonintrusive steam meter improves accuracy and reliability of steam measurement

Steam is a commodity and necessity for many industries in the world. Whether it is used for heating a building or as a heating source for an industrial application such as heating a vessel, the measurement of steam is essential. Clamp-on flow measurement for liquids with the transit-time principle has been around for over 40 years. Fifteen years ago, nonintrusive gas flow measurement was introduced, but measuring steam with clamp-on ultrasonics remained elusive. For ultrasonic meters, dry saturated steam is like a gas except the temperatures are much higher.

FLEXIM’s Clamp-On Ultrasonic Steam Meter is available in both permanent and portable versions. FLEXIM offers excellent low flow sensitivity — an aspect of steam measurement that challenges most meter technologies. Anyone who needs to measure steam consumption knows their steam meters may not pick up the low flow rates associated with off-peak times.

The FLEXIM steam meter is for saturated steam measurement with a maximum temperature of 356°F and a minimum pressure of 44 psig. The pressure and temperature range allow this meter to be used in HVAC applications as well as some industrial heating applications. A second type of noninvasive steam flow meter is planned to be released by FLEXIM for higher temperature and pressure applications, up to 750°F for saturated and superheated steam.

The challenge

The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) always had an issue with the measurement of the main steam line exiting the boiler. This line feeds approximately 1/3 of the campus or rather all the campus dorms. They could never get a good balance between the boiler output and submeters in the buildings. The meter was a DP transmitter, and it was challenged to pick up the low demand — low flow rates — during the summers. They allocated funds to create a metering location on the condensate return, and then they heard about FLEXIM’s new steam meter.

The solution

A local sales representative, Kirk Running with Advanced Process Solutions, identified FLEXIM as the solution.

“UMD was already using FLEXIM clamp-on meters and decided to give the steam meter a try,” Running said. “The meter was installed by a FLEXIM field engineer; the entire installation took less than one day to complete. With the installation complete, the university for the first time had reliable measurement of the boiler, and they saved money in the process.”

The FLEXIM installation was done on a 6-inch schedule 40 carbon steel pipe that is measuring steam at 350°F and 111 psig. The steam meter uses transit time or “time of flight” principle, which should be familiar to those who use ultrasonic flowmeters. The new 721 platform offers enhanced programming software and a faster processor that reduces the effect of noise on the meter.

The FLEXIM G721.ST permanent steam meter has a built-in data logger that will store all meter diagnostics that are examined in order to verify a good flow signal as well as operating parameters such as mass flow, flow velocity, flow totals and other important operational data and diagnostics. The installed meter also uses BACnet communication to connect and communicate to the university’s building automation system. This provides real-time data to the university and allows the facility and power plant personnel to monitor steam usage.

“The UMD operations manager was excited to have the more accurate steam flow measurement online with minimal effort,” Running said.

UMD is in the process of linking up all the energy and water flow data to an HMI that will display real-time usage. There is also student involvement with monitors in the student engineering building, revealing real-time water and energy usage. This will allow students to see the results of conservation projects on campus. For example, they can have a contest to see which campus building can reduce water consumption the most.

The meter can improve the accuracy and reliability of steam measurement, all without any process interruption.

In addition, the flowmeter technology covers a wide range of applications — liquids, gases, steam, extreme temperatures, extreme velocities (high and low), and extreme pipe sizes (large and small).

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