Design and Proof-of-Concept of a Matrix Transducer Array for Clamp-on Ultrasonic Flow Measurements

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Abstract

Common clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters consist of two single-element transducers placed on the pipe wall. Flow speed is measured noninvasively, i.e., without interrupting the flow and without perforating the pipe wall, which also minimizes safety risks and avoids pressure drops inside the pipe. However, before metering, the transducers have to be carefully positioned along the pipe axis to correctly align the acoustic beams and obtain a well-calibrated flowmeter. This process is done manually, is dependent on the properties of the pipe and the liquid, does not account for pipe imperfections, and becomes troublesome on pipelines with an intricate shape. Matrix transducer arrays are suitable to dynamically steer acoustic beams and realize self-alignment upon reception, without user input. In this work, the design of a broadband 37×17 matrix array (center frequency of 1 MHz) to perform clamp-on ultrasonic flow measurements over a wide range of liquids (c=1000-2000m/s, α≤1 dB/MHz · cm) and pipe sizes is presented. Three critical aspects were assessed: efficiency, electronic beam steering, and wave mode conversion in the pipe wall. A prototype of a proof-of-concept flowmeter consisting of two 36-element linear arrays (center frequency of 1.1 MHz) was fabricated and placed on a 1-mm-thick, 40-mm inner diameter stainless steel pipe in a custom-made flow loop filled with water. At resonance, simulated and measured efficiencies in water of the linear arrays compared well: 0.88 and 0.81 kPa/V, respectively. Mean flow measurements were achieved by electronic beam steering of the acoustic beams and using both compressional and shear waves generated in the pipe wall. Correlation coefficients of R2>0.99 between measured and reference flow speeds were obtained, thus showing the operational concept of an array-based clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2555-2568
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Volume69
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Acoustics
  • Beam steering
  • beam steering
  • Biomedical measurement
  • clamp-on flow meter
  • Guided waves
  • Liquids
  • Meters
  • transducer design
  • Ultrasonic transducer arrays
  • Ultrasonic variables measurement
  • ultrasound flow meter

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