|Publication number||USRE31432 E|
|Application number||US 06/316,992|
|Publication date||Nov 1, 1983|
|Filing date||Nov 2, 1981|
|Priority date||May 19, 1978|
|Publication number||06316992, 316992, US RE31432 E, US RE31432E, US-E-RE31432, USRE31432 E, USRE31432E|
|Inventors||Edward E. Francisco, Jr.|
|Original Assignee||Flow Technology, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (13), Classifications (5), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 177,448, filed Aug. 11, 1980 now abandoned. .Iaddend.
This invention relates to the measurement of fluid flow and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for determining the characteristic of a flowmeter.
In order to obtain accurate readings from a flowmeter, it must be calibrated from time to time by determining its characteristic, i.e., the constant of proportionality between the flow rate of the fluid flowing through the flowmeter and the response given by the flowmeter. In the case of a turbine type flowmeter that develops electrical oscillations proportional in number to the volume of flow through the flowmeter, this characteristic would be expressed in terms of the number of pulses generated by the flowmeter per unit volume of fluid passing through the flowmeter. The flowmeter characteristic is a function of the type of fluid, as well as the fluid temperature, pressure, and flow rate, and varies as the parts of the flowmeter wear in the course of use. Apparatus to determine the characteristic of a flowmeter while in an operating fluid system is called a prover. Apparatus to determine the characteristic of a flowmeter in a special test set up, i.e., not in an operating fluid system, is called a calibrator.
A known technique for determining the characteristic of a flowmeter is to compare its response with a so-called ballistic flow calibrator or prover connected in series with the flowmeter. The ballistic flow apparatus employs a piston that travels in a cylinder in synchronism with the fluid traveling through the flowmeter. By measuring the time interval required for the piston to travel a given distance through the cylinder, an average flow rate can be calculated, which is used to determine the flowmeter characteristic. U.S. Pat. No. 3,492,856, which is assigned to the assignee of the present application, discloses improved ballistic flow apparatus in which the piston has a passage through it and a plug, i.e., a valve, that seals the passage when closed and permits fluid flow through the passage from one side of the piston to the other when open. The end of a cable wrapped around a drum is attached to the valve for the purpose of holding the piston in an upstream position prior to a test run, releasing the piston when a test run is initiated, and returning the piston to the upstream position after the test run.
According to the invention, an auxiliary piston is disposed within an auxiliary cylinder where it is adapted to move as a fluid barrier. The auxiliary piston is interconnected to a fluid displacement measuring piston adapted to move through a fluid displacement measuring cylinder as a fluid barrier the same distance as the auxiliary piston moves through the auxiliary cylinder. The measuring cylinder is connected in series with a flowmeter whose characteristic is to be determined. The movement of the auxiliary piston is fluidically controlled to control the measuring piston.
In one embodiment of the invention, the measuring piston has a passage through it and a valve that seals the passage when closed so the measuring piston travels through the measuring cylinder as a fluid barrier, and permits fluid flow through the passage when open. The auxiliary piston is controlled so as to hold the measuring piston at an upstream position with the valve open prior to a test run, to release the measuring piston by closing the valve and carry out a test run, and to return the measuring piston to the upstream position with the valve open after the test run.
In another embodiment of the invention, the movement of the auxiliary piston during the test run is controlled to maintain the difference in pressure between the upstream side and the downstream side of the measuring piston constant, which suppresses perturbations in the fluid system, particularly in the case of a gas system.
In summary, the invention permits effective control to be exercised over the measuring piston at various times and in various ways during the cycle of operation in which a flowmeter characteristic is determined.
The features of specific embodiments of the best mode contemplated of carrying out the invention are illustrated in the drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a prover and a flowmeter connected in series in a fluid system;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a prover incorporating the principles of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of the prover of FIG. 2 without the inlet conduit, including a schematic representation of the fluidic control circuitry and FIG. 3A is an enlargement of a portion of FIG. 3;
FIG. 4 is a side sectional view of a modification of the prover of FIGS. 2 and 3; and
FIG. 5 is a schematic view of another embodiment of the prover of FIGS. 2 and 3.
The disclosures of Francisco U.S. Pat. No. 3,403,544, which issued Oct. 1, 1968, and Francisco U.S. Pat. No. 3,492,856 which issued Feb. 3, 1970, are incorporated fully herein by reference.
In FIG. 1, a flowmeter 10 and a prover 11 are connected in series in a fluid line 12 of a fluid system which has a shut off valve 14 downstream of prover 11. Fluid flow through the system is represented by solid arrows. The output of flowmeter 10 is coupled by an electrical connection 13 to prover 11.
As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, prover 11 comprises a fluid displacement measuring cylinder 17 in which a fluid displacement measuring piston 18 is located and adapted to move as a fluid barrier. Cylinder 17 is formed from a cylindrical conduit 16 that is flanged at both ends, an end plate 19 secured to the upstream flange of conduit 16 by means not shown, and an end plate 20 secured to the downstream flange of conduit 16 by means not shown. Integral with plate 20 is a conduit 21 opening into conduit 16, which forms the outlet of cylinder 17. The end of conduit 21 has a mounting flange 22 for connection of the prover to the downstream portion of fluid line 12 (FIG. 1). A pair of passages 23 are formed in plate 19 on either side of the central axis of conduit 16. A conduit 24, which has a Y configuration opening into conduit 16 through passages 23, serves as the inlet of cylinder 17. Integral with the end of conduit 24 is a mounting flange 25 by which prover 11 is connected to the upstream portion of fluid line 12 (FIG. 1).
Piston 18 comprises a generally disc-shaped member 30, and a generally disc-shaped member 31 between which a plurality (e.g. four) of spacers 32 extend. Members 30 and 31 and spacers 32 could be integral or separate parts. In the latter case, they would be held together by fasteners passing through spacers 32. Member 30 has a centrally located integral collar 33 around which a plurality (e.g. four) of large openings 34 are distributed. An O-ring seal 35 is retained in a groove around the periphery of member 31. A lip seal 36 is disposed around the periphery of member 31 upstream of O-ring seal 35. A disc-shaped poppet valve 37 is fixedly mounted on an axially movable rod 38 between members 30 and 31. Upstream of poppet valve 37, rod 38 extends through an opening in collar 33, where it is supported for axial movement by spaced apart bushings 40 and 41, and a central opening in plate 19, where it is supported for axial movement by a bushing 42. Lips seals 43 and 44 are located in the central opening in plate 19 on either side of bushing 42. An O-ring seal 50 is retained in a groove around the periphery of poppet valve 37. Member 31 has a central recess 51 with a side wall dimensioned to receive poppet valve 37 and engage O-ring seal 50. A plurality (e.g. four) of passages 52 are formed in recess 51 around rod 38 to provide fluid communication from the upstream side of piston 18 to the downstream side thereof. When poppet valve 37 is open, it is positioned by axial movement of rod 38 to lie upstream of member 41 in spaced relationship therefrom outside recess 51, as shown in FIG. 3, thereby permitting fluid flow through passage 52. When poppet valve 37 is closed, it is positioned by axial movement of rod 38 to lie within recess 51, thereby sealing passages 52. An optional compression spring 53 is disposed around rod 38 between member 30 and poppet valve 37 to assist the closing of poppet valve 37 by urging it toward recess 51. The outer surface of collar 33 serves to align compression spring 53 with rod 38.
A retracting cylinder 60 is attached to plate 19 in axial alignment with cylinder 17. Cylinder 60 comprises a cylindrical conduit 61 having flanged ends, an end plate 62 secured to one end flange of conduit 61 by means not shown, and a bracket 63 by which the other end flange of conduit 61 is secured to plate 19 such that rod 38 extends into conduit 61. Within conduit 61, a retracting piston 64, which has a smaller cross-sectional area than piston 18, is secured to the end of rod 38. Piston 64 fits snugly within conduit 61 so as to travel therethrough as a fluid barrier. Pick-off coils 65 and 66 are mounted on the outside of conduit 61 at spaced apart points along the path of travel of piston 64. Pick-off coils 65 and 66 are coupled by electrical connections 67 to characteristic determining electronic circuitry 68 along with connection 13 from flowmeter 10 (FIG. 1). Circuitry 68 could comprise the circuitry shown in FIG. 8 of U.S. Pat. No. 3,403,544.
Piston 64 is fluidically controlled by a source of air 75 under pressure. The outlet of source 75 is connected by a regulator 76, a solenoid actuated ON/OFF valve 77, an analog control valve 78, and a solenoid actuated three-way valve 79 in series to the upstream end of cylinder 60, and is connected by a regulator 80 and a solenoid actuated three-way valve 81 in series to the downstream end of cylinder 60. Depending upon the state of the actuating solenoid, valve 77 is either open or closed. Depending upon the state of the actuating solenoid, valves 79 and 81 individually either vent the interior of cylinder 60 to the atmosphere or pressurize the interior of cylinder 60 with air from source 75. AP transmitter 82 has input ports PU and PD in fluid communication with the upstream and downstream ends, respectively, of the interior of cylinder 17. Valve 78 is controlled by an electrical signal generated by P transmitter 82, which is proportional to the difference in pressure between the fluid communicated to ports PU and PD.
During normal operation of the fluid system in which the prover is connected, valve 81 is pressurizing the downstream end of the cylinder 60, valve 77 is closed, and valve 79 is venting the upstream end of cylinder 60 to the atmosphere. As a result, the air pressure from source 75 maintains piston 64 at its upstream end, which holds piston 18 in a ready condition at its upstream end with poppet valve 37 open, as shown in FIG. 3. Thus, the fluid flowing through the system passes through passages 52 of piston 18 unimpeded, as illustrated by the heavy arrows in FIG. 1. To initiate a test run that determines the characteristic of flowmeter 10, valve 77 is opened, the state of valve 79 is changed to pressurize the upstream end of cylinder 60, and the state of valve 81 is changed to vent the downstream end of cylinder 60. As a result, the difference in pressure on the upstream and downstream faces of piston 64, aided by spring 53, closes poppet valve 37 and releases piston 18. As poppet valve 37 closes, piston 18 begins to travel downstream through cylinder 17. When poppet valve 37 is fully close, piston 18 is moving completely in synchronism with the fluid flowing through cylinder 17 and flowmeter 10. Pick-off coil 65 is located at a position along cylinder 60 corresponding to a position along cylinder 17 where poppet valve 37 is fully closed and piston 18 is moving completely in synchronism with the fluid flowing through cylinder 17. A resilient stop 45 is used between piston 64 and end plate 19 to stop the movement of rod 38 at completion of test run, allowing piston 18 to continue downstream opening poppet valve 37 permitting fluid to flow thru passage 52.
As a safety measure a bar 85 is attached across the inside of conduit 16 adjacent to end plate 20 so as to stop rod 38 and open poppet valve 37 when piston 18 reaches the downstream end of cylinder 17. If desired, resilient stops for members 31 and 30 could also be provided at the downstream and upstream ends, respectively, of cylinder 17 to cushion the impact of piston 18. While piston 64 passes between pick-off coils 65 and 66, a given volume of fluid flows through cylinder 17, namely, a volume equal to the product of the internal cross-sectional area of cylinder 17 times the distance that piston 18 travels. As described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,492,856, this given volume divided by the time interval required for piston 64 to pass between pick-off coils 65 and 66 represents an average flow rate that is compared with the response of flowmeter 10 in order to determine its characteristic. At the end of the test run, piston 18 is located at its downstream position in cylinder 17 with poppet valve 37 open so that fluid flowing through the system may again pass through passages 52 of piston 18 unimpeded.
The movement of piston 18 through cylinder 17 during a test run tends to cause perturbations in the fluid system, particularly when the fluid is compressible, i.e., a gas. To suppress these perturbations, the electrical signal generated by ΔP transmitter 82, automatically controls the degree of opening of valve 78 so as to provide between the upstream and downstream faces of piston 64 a pressure differential such that the difference in pressure between the upstream side and the downstream side of piston 18 in cylinder 17 remains constant during the test run. In other words, piston 64 exerts an equalizing force on piston 18 through rod 38. Preferably, the difference in pressure between the upstream and downstream sides of piston 18 is very small, namely, of the order of several inches of water column, the higher pressure being on the downstream side of piston 18. The maintenance of a higher pressure on the downstream side of piston 18 than on the upstream side thereof ensures that poppet valve 37 is closed and sealing passages 52 during the test run, because if any fluid were to flow through passages 52 there would be a higher pressure on the upstream side thereof than the downstream side thereof. For this reason, it is desirable under some circumstances to automatically control the differential pressure across piston 64 in the described manner when the prover is connected in an incompressible, i.e., liquid, fluid system in order to ensure that poppet valve 37 is closed during the test run even though such a fluid system would not be subject to the large perturbations of a compressible fluid system.
To return piston 18 to its upstream position at the end of a test run, valve 77 is closed, the state of valve 79 is changed to vent the upstream end of cylinder 60, and the state of valve 81 is changed to pressurize the downstream end of cylinder 60. As a result, piston 64 is driven by the air pressure from source 75 to the upstream end of cylinder 60, pulling piston 18 along with it to its upstream position with poppet valve 37 open. Thus, piston 18 is ready for a new test run when it is desired to redetermine the characteristic of flow meter 10.
In the modification of FIG. 4, the elements in common with the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3 bear the same reference numerals. Rod 38 extends completely through cylinder 17 from end to end. An end plate 86 is secured to the downstream end flange of conduit 16 by means not shown. Plate 86 has a central opening through which rod 38 passes. A bushing 87 in the central opening supports rod 38 for axial movement and lip seals 88 and 89 on either side of bushing 87 prevent leakage of fluid from cylinder 17. A pair of passages 84, analagous to passages 23 (FIG. 3) serve as the outlet from cylinder 17. By having rod 38 extend through cylinder 17 from end to end, the force imbalance on piston 18 created by rod 38 in the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3 is eliminated. More specifically, in the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3, because of rod 38 there is a larger area for the fluid to act upon the downstream side of piston 18 than the upstream side thereof, which causes force imbalance.
In the embodiment of FIG. 5, a measuring piston 90 having a poppet valve 91 is adapted to travel through a measuring cylinder 92 as a fluid barrier when poppet valve 91 is closed. When poppet valve 91 is open, fluid flows through passages 93 in piston 90. A retracting cylinder 94 through which a retractng piston 95 travels as a fluid barrier is axially aligned with the upstream end of cylinder 92.
A retracting cylinder 96 through which a retracting piston 97 travels as a fluid barrier is axially aligned with the downstream end of cylinder 92. A rod 98 is connected between poppet valve 91 and piston 95. A rod 99 is connected between piston 90 and piston 97. The end of rod 99 is attached to piston 90 by a web structure 100. Piston 90, poppet valve 91, cylinder 92, and passages 93 could be constructed as illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4.
A source of air or any appropriate fluid 110 under pressure is supplied by solenoid actuated three-way valves 111, 112, and 113 to the upstream end of cylinder 94, the downstream end of cylinder 94, and the upstream end of cylinder 96, respectively. The downstream end of cylinder 96 is vented. To hold piston 90 at its upstream position, the states of valves 111 and 113 are such that they are vented, and the state of valve 112 is such that the downstream end of cylinder 94 is pressurized. To release piston 90 and begin a test run, the states of valves 111 and 112 are changed, so the upstream end of cylinder 94 is pressurized and the downstream end thereof is vented. As described to this point, cylinder 96 and piston 97 play no role in the operation of the apparatus. They, however, assist in the return of piston 90 to the upstream position. During such return, the states of valves 111 and 112 are again changed so the upstream end of cylinder 94 is vented and the downstream end thereof is pressurized, and the state of valve 113 is changed so the upstream end of piston 97 is pressurized (less than the downstream end of piston 95), which assists in the opening of poppet valve 91 during the return of piston 90.
The described prover can be conveniently tested to ensure there is no leakage in the seal between poppet valve 37 and the sides of recess 51, the seal between member 31 and the inside of conduit 16, and the seal between rod 38 and end plate 19. This is important because seal leakage causes error in the fluid measurement by the prover. Specifically, shut off valve 14 (FIG. 1) is closed, and the differential pressure across piston 64 is automatically controlled in the manner described in connection with FIG. 3 so as to maintain a small, constant difference in pressure between the upstream side and the downstream side of piston 18 in cylinder 17, the higher pressure being on the downstream side of piston 18. Assuming the valve 14 does not leak, any leakage of fluid through one of the three previously mentioned seals being tested will result in movement of piston 18 and piston 64 by virtue of the automatic control that maintains a constant difference in pressure across piston 18. Leakage in the seal between rod 38 and end plate 19 causes movement of piston 18 upstream; leakage in the other two seals causes movement of piston 18 downstream. A position sensor, which could comprise an electronic reed switch, a battery, and a light emitting diode in series, is placed in a stationary position outside cylinder 60 adjacent to piston 64. If the light emitting diode remains lit over a period of time, piston 64 is stationary and the seals do not leak. However, if the light emitting diode goes off, movement of piston 64 and seal leakage are indicated.
The foregoing seal leakage test could also be performed on a test bench outside an operating fluid system. In the case of a gas system, a different means of sensing movement of piston 18 could be employed, namely, the upstream end of cylinder 17 could be vented to the atmosphere by opening a bleed line and then a soapy solution could be placed over the opening of the bleed line. Leakage of gas through the piston seals from the downstream side of piston 18 would form bubbles in the soapy solution.
The described embodiments of the invention are only considered to be preferred and illustrative of the inventive concept; the scope of the invention is not to be restricted to such embodiments. Various and numerous other arrangements may be devised by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. For example, although the invention is particularly useful as a prover, it can also be employed as a calibrator. The invention is equally applicable to gas or liquid systems, and can be applied to any type of flowmeter, although it is particularly designed for determining the characteristic of a turbine type flowmeter that develops electrical ocillations proportional in number to the volume of flow.
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|U.S. Classification||73/1.21, 73/47|
|Oct 9, 1990||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: EG&G FLOW TECHNOLOGY, INC., ARIZONA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:FLOW TECHNOLOGY, INC., A CORP. OF AZ;REEL/FRAME:005463/0290
Effective date: 19891106