Measurement of Pipe and Fluid Properties with a Matrix Array-based Ultrasonic Clamp-on Flow Meter

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Current ultrasonic clamp-on flow meters consist of a pair of single-element transducers that are carefully positioned before use. This positioning process consists of manually finding the distance between the transducer elements, along the pipe axis, for which maximum signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is achieved. This distance depends on the sound speed, thickness, and diameter of the pipe and on the sound speed of the liquid. However, these parameters are either known with low accuracy or completely unknown during positioning, making it a manual and troublesome process. Furthermore, even when sensor positioning is done properly, uncertainty about the mentioned parameters, and therefore on the path of the acoustic beams, limits the final accuracy of flow measurements. In this research, we address these issues using an ultrasonic clamp-on flow meter consisting of two matrix arrays, which enables the measurement of pipe and liquid parameters by the flow meter itself. Automatic parameter extraction, combined with the beam-steering capabilities of transducer arrays, yields a sensor capable of compensating for pipe imperfections. Three parameter extraction procedures are presented. In contrast to similar literature, the procedures proposed here do not require that the medium be submerged nor do they require a priori information about it. First, axial Lamb waves are excited along the pipe wall and recorded with one of the arrays. A dispersion curve-fitting algorithm is used to extract bulk sound speeds and wall thickness of the pipe from the measured dispersion curves. Second, circumferential Lamb waves are excited, measured, and corrected for dispersion to extract the pipe diameter. Third, pulse-echo measurements provide the sound speed of the liquid. The effectiveness of the first two procedures has been evaluated using simulated and measured data of stainless steel and aluminum pipes, and the feasibility of the third procedure has been evaluated using simulated data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-322
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Dispersion correction
  • Lamb waves
  • matrix transducer
  • parameter extraction
  • ultrasound flow meter


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