Ultrasonic-based Sensor Fusion Approach to Measure Flow Rate in Partially Filled Pipes

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Publication Type:
Journal Article
IEEE Sensors Journal, 2020
Issue Date:
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Flow rate measurement in pipes is essential for many applications. Thus, there have been a variety of flow meters developed that incorporate different technologies. However, a typical limitation in flow meters is that the pipe must be full in order to get an accurate flow reading. In many cases, this is not possible for practical reasons. When the pipe is full, ultrasonic flow meters can calculate the flow rate using known properties of the pipe and fluid, namely the cross-section, propagation path and fluid sound velocity. However, when the pipe is only partially filled, the propagation path is unknown which leads to an inability to calculate the correct flow rate. This paper presents a cost-effective sensor fusion approach to extend the capabilities of transit time ultrasonic flow meters to handle such scenarios. The approach determines the propagation path using capacitance-based level sensing, combined with fluid velocities ascertained via an ultrasonic sensor, leading to a significantly more accurate estimation of flow rates. Experiments in low flow rate situations validated the efficacy of the proposed model, with a 92% reduction of mean error in the lowest water height when compared to a conventional ultrasonic flow meter.
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