(19)
(11)EP 2 345 876 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
11.09.2019 Bulletin 2019/37

(21)Application number: 10156165.2

(22)Date of filing:  11.03.2010
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G01F 1/00  (2006.01)
G01D 3/024  (2006.01)
G01F 7/00  (2006.01)
G01D 3/08  (2006.01)

(54)

Method for avoiding jumps in measurement results and improving accuracy in hybrid flow meters

Verfahren zur Vermeidung von sprunghaften Messergebnissen und Verbesserung der Präzision von hybriden Durchflussmessern

Procédé pour éviter les sauts de mesures et améliorer la précision de débitmètres hybrides


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 18.01.2010 US 295904

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.07.2011 Bulletin 2011/29

(73)Proprietor: Flow-Tronic S.A.
4840 Welkenraedt (BE)

(72)Inventor:
  • Sevar, Jean-Marie
    4840 WELKENRAEDT (BE)

(74)Representative: Pronovem 
Office Van Malderen Parc d'affaires Zénobe Gramme- bâtiment K Square des Conduites d'Eau 1-2
4020 Liège
4020 Liège (BE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 978 335
US-A- 5 315 880
US-A- 6 047 244
US-A1- 2008 270 046
DE-A1- 4 104 451
US-A- 5 821 427
US-A1- 2003 167 836
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Field of the invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to the field of flow meters. In particular, the present invention relates to a method in hybrid flow meters.

    State of the art



    [0002] Flow meters are using different technologies to measure the flow rate. Most flow meters do not measure the flow rate directly, but measure the velocity which is multiplied by the cross-sectional area to calculate the flow rate. In open channel flow measurements, some technologies measure the level and convert the level into flow rate using empirical equations such as the Manning equation, or convert the level into flow rate using mathematical equations when flumes or weirs are used. Other open channel technologies are using the continuity equation Q = AV (flow rate Q equals area A multiplied by average velocity V). The level is measured and associated with the channel shape to calculate the wet area. The local velocity is measured using different technologies and converted to the average velocity of the wet cross-sectional area.

    [0003] Depending on the application, one specific technology has advantages or disadvantages compared with the other. Not only the application, but the broad range of flow conditions, types of fluid or concentration of different materials present in the fluids to be measured, have different impact on the accuracy and measurement results depending on the measurement technology used.

    [0004] Rain, storm and waste water channels, natural streams and man-made channels are mostly exposed to consistently changing conditions, i.e. low flows, high flows, surcharge flow conditions, reverse flow, stagnation and non-uniform velocity distribution profiles, as well as continuous variation of the fluid nature.

    [0005] Current flow measurement technologies are only accurate within a prescribed range of conditions. If the condition changes, the stated or nominal accuracy of these flow meters is no longer valid. As an example, we can take the flume or weir with level meter which needs free discharge of water flow to stay within its +/- 5% stated accuracy. This stated accuracy is totally lost once the primary device (flume or weir) is totally or partially submerged.

    [0006] US 5 821 427 A discloses a flow meter comprising a submerged Doppler velocity sensor and a level sensor. US 5 315 880 A discloses a flow meter comprising a surface detecting radar velocity sensor and a level sensor.

    [0007] The submerged velocity/level sensors such as Doppler-pressure and EM-pressure sensor combinations have problems due to the built-up of silt, fouling sensors, catching debris, non uniform velocity distribution and variation of particle concentration. Additionally, low or dry day flow conditions will present measurement problems especially for pulsed cross-correlation or time-gated Doppler sensors due to the dead band, resulting in an amount of fluid level above the sensor in which no velocity measurement can be taken.

    [0008] Surface detecting radar flow measuring devices solve the maintenance problem of fouled sensors and minimum fluid level to measure the velocity, but cannot measure during submerged flow conditions, when the radar velocity sensor is submerged, as an air to water interface is required for radar Doppler velocity sensors. Those flow meters also lose signal at velocities under 0.1 to 0.2 m/s.

    [0009] In order to overcome these problems so-called "hybrid technology" flow meters have been designed. They use one technology, which in some cases is also referred to as the master technology, before they switch over to a different or secondary technology at the crossover point.

    [0010] Some hybrid systems switching over from one measuring technology to another are using hysteresis at the crossover point to avoid constant back and forth jumping.

    [0011] Present hybrid flow meters, switching from one technology to the other at a crossover point, are suffering from jumps on the flow output, because the technologies are different and, consequently, the flow measurement results under the same hydraulic flow conditions are different. Such jumps result in control and regulation problems in the downstream equipments (inappropriate control and regulation such as faulty valve positioning, inappropriate closing or opening of valves, incorrect pump control, etc.).

    [0012] In order to avoid those jumps, one existing technology calibrates the secondary technology based on the readings from the master technology.

    [0013] This technology is disclosed in the document US 2003/0167836 A1 wherein two devices are used for measuring the flow rates. One is a vortex-shedding-based flow measurement device measuring relatively high flow rates while the other is a non-vortex-shedding-based flow measurement device measuring relatively low flow rates. There is an overlap in the usable range of flow measurements of both devices. In this overlap, a processor selects one measurement as a primary measurement and another as a secondary measurement. Then, adjusting or calibrating the secondary measurement device produces agreement between the primary and secondary measurements avoiding thereby a jump.

    [0014] This technique is experiencing accuracy problems under different specific flow situations, as the master technology might already be at its limits and, consequently, inaccurate when calibrating the slave technology.

    [0015] In the field of the process control instruments using two pressure sensors with different sensing ranges, it is known from the document US 6,047,244 to blend in the overlap range components of two signals in order to provide an output signal which represents a smooth transition between both sensors.

    Aims of the invention



    [0016] The present invention aims to provide a solution that does not have the drawbacks of the prior art.

    [0017] The present invention particularly aims at providing a method of flow measurements avoiding the jumps in the flow measurement when switching from one technology to another, and improving the measurement accuracy and performance.

    Summary of the invention



    [0018] The present invention relates to a method to measure a hybrid flow rate (Q) of a fluid using simultaneously at least two measuring technologies and a reference measurement, said method comprising a step of calculation of a hybrid value, wherein the measurements of the at least two measuring technologies are combined according to a given rule to get said hybrid value by performing a linear or non-linear interpolation within a given interval of the reference measurement. According to the invention, the reference measurement is a measurement performed by an additional measuring technology, said reference measurement being a level of the fluid.

    [0019] According to particular preferred embodiments, the invention further comprises at least one or a suitable combination of the following features:
    • the measuring technologies measure a velocity of the fluid and the hybrid value is a hybrid velocity (V) of the fluid;
    • the hybrid velocity (V) of the fluid is multiplied by a cross-sectional wet area (A) according to the continuity equation Q=AV to obtain the hybrid flow rate (Q);
    • the interval comprises a lower endpoint (A2) and an upper endpoint (B1);
    • the interval comprises a lower endpoint (A2), an upper endpoint (B1) and intermediate points (X1,...,Xn) between endpoints;
    • the interpolation is performed between the endpoints (A2, B1) of the interval;
    • the interpolation is performed between the lower endpoint (A2), the intermediate points (X1,...,Xn) and the upper endpoint (B1);
    • the non-linear interpolation is based on a mathematical equation.

    Short description of the drawings



    [0020] In figures 1 to 4, the two y-axes refer to the flow meter technologies (FMT1 and 2), expressed in percentage. These can be any technologies available for measuring the flow rates. The x-axis refers to the reference measurement (RM), expressed in percentage. In figure 5, the two y-axes refer to the velocity meter technologies (VTM1 and 2), expressed in percentage, and the x-axis to the reference measurement (RM) also expressed in percentage. In figures 1 to 5, points A1 and B2 correspond respectively to 0 and 100% of the reference measurement. Points A2 and B1 correspond respectively to the lower and upper endpoints of the interval of integration of both technologies. Points X1, X2, ..., Xn correspond respectively to intermediate points between the endpoints of the interval.

    [0021] The figure 1 shows an example of linear transition from 100% flow meter 1 and 0% flow meter 2 to 100% flow meter 2 and 0% flow meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 60% (point B1) of the reference measurement input, according to the method of the invention.

    [0022] The figure 2 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 100% flow meter 1 and 0% flow meter 2 to 100% flow meter 2 and 0% flow meter 1, within the interval between 10% (point A2) and 80% (point B1) of the reference measurement input, according to the method of the invention.

    [0023] The figure 3 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 80% flow meter 1 and 20% flow meter 2 to 100% flow meter 2 and 0% flow meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 80% (point B1) of the reference measurement input, according to the method of the invention.

    [0024] The figure 4 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 100% flow meter 1 and 0% flow meter 2 to 80% flow meter 2 and 20% flow meter 1, within the interval between 0% (point A1 = point A2) and 100% (point B2 = point B1) of the reference measurement input, according to the method of the invention.

    [0025] The figure 5 shows an example of a linear transition from 100% velocity meter 1 and 0% velocity meter 2 to 100% velocity meter 2 and 0% velocity meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 80% (point B1) of the reference measurement input, according to the method of the invention.

    Detailed description of several embodiments of the invention



    [0026] The method of flow measurement according to the invention uses at least two measuring technologies and comprises a step wherein the measurements obtained with both (or more) technologies are integrated (the term combined will be also used) to give a so-called hybrid value. This new method uses a reference measurement as input and the integration of both technologies is carried out within a given interval of this reference measurement. The integration consists in a linear or non-linear interpolation between the lower endpoint, the intermediate points (if they are some) and the upper endpoint of the interval.

    [0027] According to the invention, the measuring technologies refer to all technologies available for measuring the flow rates, including the technologies measuring the level or the velocity or the level/velocity combination of the fluid and converting those measurements in a flow rate. The expression measured flow rate can thus refer to a flow rate calculated on the basis of a measured parameter (level, velocity, ...).

    [0028] In examples not according to the invention, the reference measurement can be the measurement of a measuring technology (e.g. the flow rate measured by a master flow meter), a third additional reference measurement, or many additional measurements combined into one reference measurement. In more detail, the reference measurement can be the flow measurement from any flow measuring device, or any primary measurement used to calculate the flow rate, like point velocity, average velocity, differential pressure, etc., or any quality parameters associated to any of those measurements, such as SNR (Signal over Noise Ratio), NVM (Number of Valid Measurements during the sample time), AGC (Automatic Gain Control value), PMR (Peak over Mean Ratio from measurement values during the sample time), NOS (Number Of Samples during the sample time), etc., or any additional external reference measurement. Typically, in an open channel hybrid flow meter application using two measuring technologies, a third measurement, used for a flow rate calculation or not, will be taken as reference to make the transition. According to the invention, this third measurement is a liquid level measurement, but in examples not according to the invention, it could be a different measured input such as pH, conductivity, temperature, turbidity, etc.

    [0029] This new method integrating the measurements of several technologies within an interval of a reference measurement allows a smooth, smart, progressive linear or non-linear transition from one technology to the other. The interval of interpolation can be large or narrow depending on the technology used, fluid conditions, velocity distribution in the cross-sectional area, etc. As will be shown hereinafter (in figure 4), it can even cover the full range of the reference measurement from 0 to 100% which, as an example, can correspond from 0mm level to maximum level range of the liquid.

    [0030] The aspects and advantages of this invention will become more clear with the following examples.

    [0031] By way of examples, the present invention is illustrated in figures 1 to 5 for the integration of two technologies into one hybrid technology. However, a method using 3 or more technologies can also be implemented according to the invention. The hybrid value can be a hybrid flow rate directly calculated from the flow rate measurements or it can be a value (hybrid level, hybrid velocity, etc.) calculated from the level, velocity, etc. measurements and then converted in a hybrid flow rate. In the examples illustrated below, the interpolation within the interval is performed on the basis of the flow rate measurements (figures 1 to 4) or on the basis of the velocity measurements (figure 5).

    [0032] Figure 1 shows an example of linear transition from 100% flow meter 1 and 0% flow meter 2 to 100% flow meter 2 and 0% flow meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 60% (point B1) of the reference measurement input. Practically, the reference measurement can be the liquid level measurement from flow meter 1 within a range of 0m (0%) to 2m (100%). 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 are taken into account as long as the level reference measurement is between points A1 (0m or 0%) and A2 (0.4m or 20%). Between points A2 (0.4m or 20%) and B1 (1.2m or 60%), a linear interpolation from 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 at point A2 to 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 at point B1 is made. This gives as intermediate hybrid flow rate results: at 30% (0.6m) of the reference measurement, 75% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 25% of flow rate from flow meter 2 ; at 40% (0.8m) of the reference measurement, 50% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 50% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 ; at 50% (1m) reference measurement, 25% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 75% of the flow rate from flow meter 2. Between points B1 (1.2m or 60%) and B2 (2m or 100%) of the reference measurement, 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 100% of flow rate from flow meter 2 are taken into account.

    [0033] Figure 2 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 to 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 and 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 1, within the interval between 10% (point A2) and 80% (point B1) of the reference measurement input. A linear interpolation is made to calculate the hybrid flow rate from flow meter 1 and flow meter 2 between the intermediate reference points A2 - X1, X1 - X2, X2 - X3, X3 - Xn, Xn - B1.

    [0034] Figure 3 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 80% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 20% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 to 100% flow meter 2 and 0% flow meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 80% (point B1) of the reference measurement input. A linear interpolation is made to calculate the hybrid flow rate from flow meter 1 and flow meter 2 between the intermediate reference points A2 - X1, X1 - X2, X2 - Xn, Xn - B1.

    [0035] Figure 4 shows an example of a non-linear transition from 100% of the flow rate from flow meter 1 and 0% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 to 80% of the flow rate from flow meter 2 and 20% of the flow rate from flow meter 1, within the interval between 0% (point A1=point A2) and 100% (point B2=point B1) of the reference measurement input based on a mathematical equation (smooth curve).

    [0036] Figure 5 shows an example wherein the hybrid value is calculated from velocity measurements and then converted in a hybrid flow rate. The transition is linear from 100% velocity meter 1 and 0% velocity meter 2 to 100% velocity meter 2 and 0% velocity meter 1, within the interval between 20% (point A2) and 60% (point B1) of the reference measurement input. The resulting hybrid velocity (V) is then multiplied by the wet cross-sectional area (A) according to the continuity equation Q=AV in order to calculate the hybrid flow rate (Q).

    [0037] As aforementioned, the technologies involved in the present invention can measure the level of fluid and the calculated hybrid value can be the hybrid level. This value is used to calculate a cross-sectional wet area (A). The velocity of the fluid is measured with an additional measuring technology and converted to an average velocity of the cross-sectional wet area (A). In order to calculate the hybrid flow rate (Q), the calculated cross-sectional wet area (A) is multiplied by the measured velocity (V) or the calculated average velocity (V) according to the continuity equation Q=AV.

    [0038] The technologies involved in the present invention can also measure the level/velocity combination of the fluid. The resulting hybrid level is used to calculate a cross-sectional wet area (A) and multiplied by the hybrid velocity (V) according to the continuity equation Q=AV in order to calculate the hybrid flow rate (Q).

    Advantages of the invention



    [0039] Instead of switching from one technology to the other at the crossover point from the reference technology, this invention allows a smooth, smart, progressive transition from one technology to the other in a linear or non-linear way, avoiding jumps in the flow result at the crossover point.

    [0040] This technology also allows to incorporate into the hybrid flow rate calculation, the maximum information from each technology when the technology is best performing and the minimum information from each technology when the technology gets close to its limits, improving the hybrid flow rate measurement and its accuracy.


    Claims

    1. Method to measure a hybrid flow rate (Q) of a fluid in an open channel, said method using simultaneously at least two measuring technologies and a reference measurement, said method comprising a step of calculation of a hybrid value, wherein the measurements of the at least two measuring technologies are combined according to a given rule to get said hybrid value by performing a linear or non-linear interpolation within a given interval of the reference measurement, wherein the reference measurement is a measurement performed by an additional measuring technology, said reference measurement being a level of the fluid.
     
    2. Method according to claim 1, wherein the measuring technologies measure a flow rate and wherein the hybrid value is the hybrid flow rate (Q) of the fluid.
     
    3. Method according to claim 1, wherein the measuring technologies measure a velocity of the fluid and wherein the hybrid value is a hybrid velocity (V) of the fluid.
     
    4. Method according to claim 3, wherein the hybrid velocity (V) of the fluid is multiplied by a cross- sectional wet area (A) according to the continuity equation Q=AV to obtain the hybrid flow rate (Q).
     
    5. Method according to claim 1, wherein the interval comprises a lower endpoint (A2) and an upper endpoint (B1).
     
    6. Method according to claim 1, wherein the interval comprises a lower endpoint (A2), an upper endpoint (B1) and intermediate points (X1,...,Xn) between endpoints.
     
    7. Method according to claim 5, wherein the interpolation is performed between the endpoints (A2, B1) of the interval.
     
    8. Method according to claim 6, wherein the interpolation is performed between the lower endpoint (A2), the intermediate points (X1,...,Xn) and the upper endpoint (B1).
     
    9. Method according to claim 1, wherein the non-linear interpolation is based on a mathematical equation.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur Messung einer Hybrid-Durchflussmenge (Q) eines Fluids in einem offenen Kanal, wobei das besagte Verfahren mindestens zwei Messtechnologien und eine Referenzmessung gleichzeitig verwendet, das besagte Verfahren einen Schritt zur Berechnung eines Hybrid-Werts umfasst, wobei die Messungen der mindestens zwei Messtechnologien gemäß einer gegebenen Regel zum Erhalten des besagten Hybrid-Werts durch Durchführen einer linearen oder nichtlinearen Interpolation innerhalb eines gegebenen Intervalls der Referenzmessung kombiniert werden, wobei die Referenzmessung eine Messung ist, die durch eine zusätzliche Messtechnologie durchgeführt wird, wobei die besagte Referenzmessung ein Fluidstand ist.
     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Messtechnologien eine Durchflussmenge messen, und wobei der Hybrid-Wert die Hybrid-Durchflussmenge (Q) des Fluids ist.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Messtechnologien eine Geschwindigkeit des Fluids messen, und wobei der Hybrid-Wert die Hybrid-Geschwindigkeit (V) des Fluids ist.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Hybrid-Geschwindigkeit (V) des Fluids mit einer nassen Querschnittsfläche (A) gemäß der Kontinuitätsgleichung Q = A V multipliziert wird, um die Hybrid-Durchflussmenge (Q) zu erhalten.
     
    5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Intervall einen unteren Endpunkt (A2) und einen oberen Endpunkt (B1) umfasst.
     
    6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Intervall einen unteren Endpunkt (A2), einen oberen Endpunkt (B1) und Zwischenpunkte (X1, ..., Xn) zwischen den Endpunkten umfasst.
     
    7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei die Interpolation zwischen den Endpunkten (A2, B1) des Intervalls durchgeführt wird.
     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Interpolation zwischen dem unteren Endpunkt (A2), den Zwischenpunkten (X1, ..., Xn) und dem oberen Endpunkt (B1) durchgeführt wird.
     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die nichtlineare Interpolation auf einer mathematischen Gleichung basiert.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé pour mesurer un débit hybride (Q) d'un fluide dans un canal ouvert, ledit procédé utilisant simultanément au moins deux technologies de mesure et une mesure de référence, ledit procédé comprenant une étape de calcul d'une valeur hybride, dans lequel les mesures des au moins deux technologies de mesure sont combinées selon une règle donnée pour obtenir ladite valeur hybride en réalisant une interpolation linéaire ou non linéaire à l'intérieur d'un intervalle donné de la mesure de référence, dans lequel la mesure de référence est une mesure réalisée par une technologie de mesure supplémentaire, ladite mesure de référence étant un niveau du fluide.
     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les technologies de mesure mesurent un débit et dans lequel la valeur hybride est le débit hybride (Q) du fluide.
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les technologies de mesure mesurent une vitesse du fluide et dans lequel la valeur hybride est une vitesse hybride (V) du fluide.
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 3, dans lequel la vitesse hybride (V) du fluide est multipliée par une surface humide en section (A) selon l'équation de continuité Q = A V pour obtenir le débit hybride (Q).
     
    5. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'intervalle comprend un point d'extrémité inférieur (A2) et un point d'extrémité supérieur (B1).
     
    6. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'intervalle comprend un point d'extrémité inférieur (A2), un point d'extrémité supérieur (B1) et des points intermédiaires (X1, ..., Xn) entre les points d'extrémité.
     
    7. Procédé selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'interpolation est réalisée entre les points d'extrémité (A2, B1) de l'intervalle.
     
    8. Procédé selon la revendication 6, dans lequel l'interpolation est réalisée entre le point d'extrémité inférieur (A2), les points intermédiaires (X1, ..., Xn) et le point d'extrémité supérieur (B1).
     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'interpolation non linéaire est basée sur une équation mathématique.
     




    Drawing


















    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description