eFunda: Introduction to Doppler Ultrasonic Flowmeters
engineering fundamentals Doppler Ultrasonic Flowmeter
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Overview

Doppler Ultrasonic Flowmeters rely on the Doppler effect to relate the frequency shifts of acoustic waves to the flow velocity. It usually requires some particles in the flow to reflect the signals. The rule of thumb is 25 PPM suspended solid or bubbles with diameters of 30 micron or larger for 1 MHz or higher transducers. Lower frequency transducers may require "dirtier" fluid conditions.

The Doppler formula for a sound or light source moving toward the observer at a velocity V is

Since the input signal from the transducer forms an angle with the flow direction, the velocity V should be replaced by the projected velocity V cos. The acoustic waves traveling upstream and downstream will have the observed frequencies

The difference in frequency is

since the flow velocity V is much smaller than the speed of sound c in the fluid.

By re-arranging the above equation, the flow velocity can be written as

Common Specifications

Common specifications for commercially available Doppler ultrasonic flowmeterss are listed below:

   

Score Phase Condition
 Gas  Dirty 
 Liquid  Corrosive  
  Dirty 
  Open Channel 
 Gas  Clean 
 Liquid  Clean 
  Viscous 
: Recommended
: Limited applicability

  Line Size: Inline model: 10 ~ 1200 mm (0.4 ~ 48 inch)
Clamped-on model: 75 mm (3 in) and up
  Turndown Ratio: 100 : 1

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
  - No obstruction in the flow path, no pressure drop
  - No moving parts, low maintenance cost
  - Can be used in corrosive or slurry fluid flow
  - Portable models available for field analysis and diagnosis
  • Cons:
  - Higher initial set up cost

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