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Research collaboration seeks to improve flowmeters

Image: Morgan Advanced Materials

Loughborough University is working with materials engineering company Morgan Advanced Materials in a project which seeks to increase the accuracy and reliability of ultrasonic flow meters.

The collaboration will specifically see Loughborough’s Advanced Ceramics Research Group and Morgan explore the potential use of alumina blocks in place of stainless steel ones which are currently widely used in flow meters.

High performance ultrasonic flow meters have many uses, but are particularly used in smart meters for utility and industrial flow measurement. Ultrasonic meters provide greater sensitivity, accuracy and longevity compared to the more traditional mechanical flow meter.

The roll-out of smart meters worldwide has seen an increase in demand for accurate, reliable and durable ultrasonic flow meters.

As part of their research, the two organisations will evaluate the degradation of stainless steel and alumina ceramics through a test that stimulates 20 years of service within a flow tube. It is very important that the blocks must retain their reflective surface throughout service, since any loss or degradation of reflection will impair the transmission of the ultrasonic signal between sensors.

Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan, from the Department of Materials is leading Loughborough’s Advanced Ceramics Research Group. He commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Morgan Advanced Materials on this high impact research project. Together, we can investigate the effect of using alumina blocks for flow measurements and potentially increase the accuracy, longevity and reliability of ultrasonic flow meters by changing the components involved.”

Dr Yifei Zhang of Morgan Advanced Materials said: “The accurate measurement of volume flow is important in many sectors, but at the moment there is particular interest in smart meters. This growing commercial application fuels demand for highly accurate meters that are cost-effective and durable which require novel materials to be applied in innovative new ways. We are proud to be working with Loughborough University on the type of research that will take technical ceramics – and ultrasonic flow meters – into the future.”