Gas Meters Designed Using EFD.Lab Flow Simulation Software

(October 13, 2006) -- Actaris used EFD.Lab computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software from Flomerics to design innovative gas meters. Actaris fluidic meters work on a unique principle of putting an obstacle in the flow stream and using a sensor to measure the resulting oscillations to determine the flow rate. “EFD.Lab enabled Actaris engineers to quickly and accurately simulate the flow velocity, direction and pressure, making it possible to evaluate new design concepts without the expense and leadtime required to build multiple prototypes,” said Ibne Soreefan, Project Manager for Actaris. “EFD.Lab also provided far more diagnostic information than can be obtained by testing a prototype, enabling engineers to move more directly to an optimized design.”

Actaris is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of meters and systems for the electricity, gas, water and heat markets. Actaris’ Dattus fM2 gas meter is based on the fluidic oscillation principle. The gas flow is divided to eliminate upstream disturbances then recombined and directed against an obstacle. The jet oscillates back and forth and thermal sensors detect temperature variances as the jet oscillates. The volume of gas passed through the meter is obtained by counting the number of oscillations detected by the sensors. This innovative design is very compact and has no moving parts so it lasts longer and requires less maintenance than competitive designs.

Actaris engineers faced difficult challenges in developing this unique design. For example, it’s important that the flow pattern within the meter be the same over a wide range of flow rates in order to maintain accuracy of the meter over this range. Building and testing prototypes makes it possible to evaluate the accuracy of the meter but does not show the flow pattern so it is difficult to determine the cause of inaccuracies. Actaris engineers previously used CFD software whose cost was so high that it squeezed the engineering budget. They switched to EFD.Lab after Flomerics support engineers demonstrated that they could provide the same accuracy as the high-end software at a fraction of the cost. EFD.Lab also requires considerably less time to simulate gas meter flow.

In designing the Dattus fM2 meter, Actaris engineers evaluated a wide range of concept designs using software prototypes. They visualized the flow inside each design at flow rates that covered the meter’s entire application range. They viewed the flow development as the flow rate increased and the flow moved from laminar to turbulent. They observed vortices and followed how they changed over the flow rate. “These simulations helped us visualize the flow and understand the sensitivity of the meter to key design parameters, and thus converging toward the optimized prototype in less time.”

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