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Measurement of steam flow rates using a clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter with various wetness fractions
Flow Measurement and Instrumentation  (IF2.037),  Pub Date : 2021-06-18, DOI: 10.1016/j.flowmeasinst.2021.101997
Hideki Murakawa, Shuhei Ichimura, Katsumi Sugimoto, Hitoshi Asano, Shuichi Umezawa, Hirotoshi Taira, Masayuki Ibi, Hajime Akahane

Most of the heat in industrial plants is supplied by steam. To minimize energy waste, measuring the steam flow rates in existing pipes is important. Clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters are used for this purpose, for which the sensors are attached to the pipe wall. However, flow conditions that can be used are limited because the signal-to-noise ratio of the ultrasonic signal in a steam flow is low. Furthermore, the steam wetness increases with heat losses, which may affect measurement results. Therefore, flow rate measurements in wet steam flows using clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters have not been fully established. In this study, steam flow rates with various wetness fractions and system pressures were measured using a laboratory-made clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter. The results show that flow rates in wet steam could be determined within a 10% error under general conditions in a steam piping system, although the conversion factor from line-average to area-average velocities was calibrated in superheated conditions, and the speed of sound in saturated conditions at each pressure was used. However, the error of the flow rates tended to increase with the wetness fraction and was biased toward positive values. The speed of sound and liquid volume fraction were evaluated at different wetness fractions. The flow rate error due to the change in sound speed was less than 1%, and 1.2% of the flow rates were overestimated owing to the liquid volume fraction. The velocity distribution in wet steam was considered different from that in the superheated steam owing to the existence of the liquid phase, and the change in velocity profile may lead to an overestimation of the steam flow rates in the wet steam condition.