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Flow measurement is an important field in fluid mechanics and modern
industries, such as petrol measurements, as well as food industries, where
everything must be counted in a suitable manner, to achieve the required product
with the accepted conditions and specifications.
in the other hand to measure the flow, there are many types of devices
which are used to do so, the variation in the device depends on the flow state, such
as if it is isothermal, viscous flow, liquid or gas, and for gas measurement, we have
to take gas compressibility in to our calculation.
Such a device is called (Flow Measurement devices) as examples of these
1- Thermal anemometer.
3- Pressure transducers.
4- Turbine flow measurement.
A thermal anemometer, controlled at a fixed temperature above the
ambient, responds to convective heat transfer. With forced convective heat
transfer, the output is proportional to the sensor¶s Reynolds number (Re). Looking
at the Reynolds number terms we can see how it measures mass rate per unit area.
It does NOT measure volumetric flow rate but a density weighted version know as
standard flow rate. The thermal anemometer automatically compensates for density
because it responds to the Reynolds number.
CHAPTER 2: THERMAL ANEMOMETER
A thermal anemometer uses a heated probe element that is inserted
into an airstream. Air speed can then be inferred from the heating power necessary
to maintain the probe at a temperature elevation. This power should be some way
proportional to air speed.
In this device an electrically heated wire is placed in the gas pathway,
which is cooled by the gas flow (Figure 5). The degree of cooling depends on the
gas flow rate, which can thus be calculated. A modification of this device uses a
heated screen or film instead of a wire.
The hot wire (usually platinum) has an operating temperature as high as 400°C,
and is incorporated into a balanced Wheatstone bridge circuit. Cooling the wire
changes its resistance and unbalances the bridge. Most designs work on the
constant temperature system, whereby a correcting current is applied through the
hot wire to compensate for the cooling effect of the gas, maintaining a constant
wire temperature and thus restoring the balance in the Wheatstone bridge. This
current is measured and from it the gas flow rate is determined. To compensate for
changes in the gas temperature, a second wire is usually incorporated, which is
maintained at ambient temperature. Minor corrections are also made according to
the gascomposition, to accommodate the variation in specific heat capacity, but hot
wire anemometry is generally extremely accurate.
This cooling effect occurs with flow in either direction, and so to measure exhaled
tidal volume the hot wire anemometer is placed in the expiratory limb of the
circuit. It can be modified to provide information about the direction of flow by
using an additional heated wire placed just downstream from a small bar, as shown
in Figure 5b. This bar shelters the wire from the full cooling effects of flow in one
direction but not the other, and thus inspiratory and expiratory flows can be
calculated separately. For this purpose the sensor must be placed in the Y-piece of
the circuit. This technique is particularly useful for neonatal ventilation.
2.2 Fundamental Concepts:
Thermal anemometer (hot wire anemometer) is a device for
measuring the mass flow rate with the help of heat and mass transfer concepts.
The thermal anemometer measure the mass unit area flow rate, so it
measures the true velocity of the fluid, but the process must be done at fixed
temperature above the ambient temperature, so it will respond to the convective
heat transfer, so by the forced convection, the output will be proportional to
sensors Reynolds number, and because Reynolds number measures the density, not
the volumetric flow rate, which is known as (standard flow rate).
2.2.1 Reynolds Number
Reynolds Number Is a dimensionless number which gives the ration
between the inertial forces (ɏ V
) to the viscous forces (ρVL).
ɏ = Actual Density of the flow.
V = Actual Velocity.
D = Sensor Diameter.
ρ ൌ viscosityǤ
ɋ ൌ Kinematic viscosityǤ
The density times the velocity (ɏ V) which makes the thermal anemometer mass
flow rate device.
2.2. Standard velocity:
it is the multiplication of ɏv normalized to a standard density (ɏ
Standard Velocity = ɏvȀɏ
Wheie ɏsis the stanuaiu gas uensity ሺfoi aii at ʹͷԨ anu Ͳ mm Bg is ͳǤͳͺͶ
2.2.3 Standard Volumetric flow rate:
t the piouuct of the velocity times uensity time the aiea
noimalizeu to stanuaiu uensityǤ
Stanuaiu volumetiic flow iate ൌ Aiea ȗ Stanuaiu velocity
y Mass flow rate can be easily calculated by multiplying standard volumetric
flow rate by the standard density.
2.2.4 Standard Density:
Different gases have different standard densities. This is often
described using the gas¶s molecular weight (molar fraction or volumetric % sum of
mass flow = A(ɏvȀ ɏsሻ ȗ ȡ
2.3 Conversion between Actual and Standard Flow:
Conversion between the actual and standard flow can be done by
scaling gas density by using ideal gas law.
is actual velocity, Vs is standard velocity.
is actual volumetric flow.
is standard volumetric flow.
is the standard pressure in absolute units.
is the actual pressure in absolute units.
is the actual temperature in absolute units (Kelvin or Rankin).
is the standard temperature in absolute units (Kelvin or Rankin).
* °K = °C + 273.16, °R = °F + 459.67.
And for more accurate conversion, compressibility (Z) can take place in the above
equation to be:
2.4 Dynamic Theory of the Anemometer:
An anemometer is an instrument for measurement of the velocity of a
fluid or gas. Herethe gas is common air. The instrument is fast and sensitive when
used in the rightway. (John P. Bentley: Principles of measurement systems.
Longman, London and NewYork (1983) pp. 307-323).
Principle of operation: A thin tungsten wire heated by an electrical current is
cooled byair. The temperature of the wire may be calculated from the resistance.
Therefore thevelocity of the air may be calculated from the resistance R of the wire
and the electricalcurrent I through the wire.
y By measuring R & I we calculate the air velocity.
In practice the resistance R is made constant by using a Wheatsone
bridge in which the error voltage E is automatically controlled to zero. The control
system is changing the supply voltage Y of the bridge until E is zero. In this way Y
is proportional to the current I through the wire.
The wire can be assumed as first order system, so small change in the
input power will cause a temperature change of the wire. So by increasing the input
voltage Y of the bridge will increase the resistance R therefore the Voltage error E
CHAPTER 3: Error Sources for Hot Wire Anemometer
Error Sources can be summarized as:
1- Gas property induced errors.
2- Flow Profile.
3- Acoustic noise sources.
4- Gas Species Decomposition.
3.1 Gas Property Induced Errors:
1- Pressure Changes: Pressure changes effects the calibration of some gases, like
has 2.5% for each 100 Psi shift in its viscosity, which directly affect the mass
flow readings, on the other hand He can be approximated to have no change with
the pressure. Also the compressibility Z can be factor for some gases, e.g. CH
20 °C, 101.3 KPa, Z= 0.9975
20 °C, 800 KPa or 7.9 bar, Z= 0.9875 or 1% deviation.
2- Temperature Changes:Temperature changes will affect the gas thermal
conductivity and viscosity so the calibration will drift. This is typically 2.5% /100
°C. The minimum drift occurs near 3000 SFPM (Standard feet per minute) where
the dynamic temperature compensation is performed. The use of velocity
temperature mapping (VTM) or multiple calibration curves for different gas
temperatures largely eliminates this source of error.
3-Temperature Profile:Temperature Profile in the pipe will produce flow errors.
This is caused by using non insulated pipe upstream of the sensor where the gas is
above or below the ambient temperature.
4-Low flow free convective:Low flow free convective heat transfer forces
compete with forced convective and conductive heat transfer forces for power.
This causes measurable errors (depending on gas type, temperature, pressure, and
orientation of sensor to both flow and gravity) starting at about 300 SFPM and
becomes significant down at about 100 SFPM.
5-Wet VS Dry Flow Rates:The thermal anemometer responds to all gas molecules
which hit it. In the case of water vapor (H
0) dissolved in Air, it reads what is
known as wet standard volumetric flow or WSCFM. For intake combustion
processes you want to know the dry standard volumetric flow or DSCFM which is
21% O2 so your fuel air ratio can be properly computed. Knowing the specific
humidity ratio Ȧ you can use the following equation up to 5% Ȧ and get results
DSCFM = WSCFM x 0.622/ (0.622 + Ȧ)
DSCFM = Dry Standard Cubic Feet per Minute.
WSCFM = Wet Standard Cubic Feet per Minute.
3.2 Flow Profile& Correction Factor:
At low velocity, a laminar velocity profile develops across the pipe
cross section as shown in the figure. Note that the peak velocity is about 30%
higher than the velocity average (V average). At higher flow rates, a flatter velocity
profile develops where the peak velocity is closer to the average. So depending on
where the sensor is located, it will read a different fraction of the average velocity.
It is the average velocity multiplied by the cross sectional area that will obtain the
The use of a velocity dependent correction factor can convert the local
velocity measurement to average velocity.
Flow = V
The correction factor curve was measured from a 4" ID pipe with a 2"
welded support, triple sting CD sensor. For other sized ducts, the data can be
scaled by theReynolds Number.
3.3Acoustic, sound or pulsing pressure induced errors:
It is not verified yet in the laboratory, Pneumatic control valves,
reciprocating pumps, sonic nozzles, pressure regulators etc. all tend to induced
pressure pulsations in to the piping or ducting. At high enough amplitude, the
instantaneous gas velocity will reverse direction when compared to the average
flow. This causes a thermal sensor to lose heat to this gas on both the forward and
reverse flow rate. The heat loss to the fluid is then higher than it was when
calibrated on a gas moving in one direction at the same net flow rate. So the sensor
will read higher flow than is actually flowing. The source of this pressure wave can
be upstream or downstream of the sensor.
In some plumbing configurations the pulsations will be sympathetic with the
standing wave sound reflections in the pipes which will allow the amplitude to
grow very high. Starting at the fundamental and all the harmonics of the standing
wave pattern these phenomena can aggravate a flow measurement with a thermal
3.3.1 Mitigation of acoustic induced errors:
To prevent a standing wave of sound in the piping, we simply need to
introduce enough sound absorption to prevent the buildup of a large sound wave
with each reflection from each end of the piping section where the flow meter is in.
Elimination of these acoustic induced errors can be controlled using expansion
tanks, mufflers etc. to attenuate the sound waves and return the piping/duct to a
smooth one-way flow field so the thermal sensor does not produce false high
readings. Inserting a tank between the noise source and sensor is often all that is
required to correct this error source. Even a branching tee with a short stub to a
tank will attenuate the sound enough to correct most applications which suffer
from high acoustic noise. In some applications, a control valve and shut off valve
can be swapped so the control valve is not in the same sound-resonator as the
3.4Gas species decomposition from the velocity sensor heat:
Some gas species, like ozone (O
) can be induced to decompose from
the heated velocity sensor. As it requires heat to split up a molecule, the thermal
sensor will read high under this condition. The heat of recombination, O combines
with O to make O
occurs downstream of the sensor and is not detected. So while
the net chemical reaction from O
is exothermic giving off heat, the first step
is endothermic. In this case, the only mitigation is to reduce the application
temperature or the sensor overheats to below the activation energy needed to
initiate this decomposition. In the case of O
, this is 80 to 100 °C.
The opposite issue where the sensor surface could at as a catalyst for a
recombination and the sensor picks up too much heat, so it reads low, has not been
observed but is possible. Higher temperature applications are more likely to
observe catalytic heat absorption.
CHAPTER 4: INSTLATION& CALIBRATION:
4.1CIRCUITS AND SENSORS:
For installing hot wire or hot film anemometer there are many ways to
connect them, such as:
1- Internally heated transistor.
2- Externally heated Diode Bridge.
3- Internally heated NTC Resistor Bridge.
4- Externally heated NTC Resistor Bridge.
5- Hot wire, internally heated.
4-1-1INTERNALLY HEATED TRANSISTOR - 'TRANEMOMETER'
sensing elements are the
base-emitter junctions of two
probe transistors Q1, Q2. The
base-emitter junction voltage
is typically 0.7 Volts with a
temperature coefficient near -
2 mV per deg C. The lower
transistor Q2 has its collector
wired to its base. This one
acts as a passive diode, only
there to sense ambient
temperature. These transistors
form the left side of a bridge,
the right side is resistors R1, R2, and the trimmer R3. Amplifier A1 senses the
balance of the bridge. If the voltage over the Q1 junction is too high, then A1 will
drive the Q1 base up. More current will pass through both transistors but Q2 is
fully conducting and does not change its temperature appreciably with change in
current. Having a high collector voltage, Q1 will be heated while Q2 remains
essentially at ambient temperature. That heating lowers the Q1 base-emitter
voltage until balance is restored. The heater and the temperature detection are
inherent in the transistor itself. So A1 keeps Q1 a certain number of degrees hotter
than Q2. How many depends on the trimmer setting, with this circuit typically
around 5 degrees centigrade. Resistor R4 senses how much current is flowing
through Q1-Q2. The (small) voltage developed over R4 by this current is amplified
by A2 into the output pin 7. A2 has an offset input but otherwise simply translates
the additional current needed to maintain the temperature difference between the
two B-E junctions. The more current, the more heat is being removed from hot Q2.
Actually A2 is not simple at all. If R9 and R10 are trimmers, you can go nuts
trying to adjust them. The reason is that ³input offset´ in the front. As the
biaschanges, the gain is affected.
The original article mentions a problem with this circuit. The sensor transistors
may latch up in a current rush mode, with the top Q1 fully on and current limited
essentially only by the small sensing resistor R4. Then Q1 can no more hold its
temperature and the bridge balancing fails. This mode is easily evoked by a
minimal disturbance, e.g. like putting a scope probe in contact with the circuit. The
remedy is the threshold feedback from A2 via two diodes (a transistor in the
original article). If the output at A2 goes too high, essentially over some half the
supply, then the feedback diodes open and A1 is quenched such that probe current
is cut off again. While this safety device is in operation, the output of the circuit is
in error (output no longer goes up with airspeed). Without it, however, it goes up
and stays up until you turn off the circuit. The capacitor C1 is not commented in
the original article, but apparently slows operations to be in the tens of
milliseconds range, preventing oscillation. Still this is much faster than the thermal
time constants in Q1-Q2.
Power is supplied from a single 9V battery. The power-on indicator LED is used to
offset the nominal ground and form a negative supply for the op-amps. Otherwise
their inputs come too close to the negative supply, such that they do not operate.
It is hard to understand the talk about linearity in
the original article until you realize it is stated for
a rather small range, up to 250 ft/min, 1.27 m/s. I
find from my calibrations in the 1 to 10 m/s range
that the device is close to logarithmic, as seen
here in the calibration for a probe with TO-18
case transistors. Its output voltage increases about
equally much for each doubling of the air speed.
And this is also the kind of behavior one would
like to have, this largely obviates need for a range
There is some freedom in dimensioning, on one
hand the current sensing R4, on the other the divider R11-R9, these together define
the probe 'rest' (still air) current. Additionally the A2 gain controlling R10 implies
a limit on max. Air speed when the feedback diodes open to cut out Q1 heating.
When switched on, the meter goes beyond full scale since Q1-Q2 is initially the
same temperature. Then output creeps down as Q1 heats, takes time. For the
balance trimmer R3 I use a multiturn pot, this is a very sensitive one to set. I prefer
to zero the meter output at about 0.25 m/s air speed. Rather than in still air which is
somewhat indeterminate because of whatever thermal convection then goes past
Q1, also taking maximal time to reach equilibrium. To get readings at low air
speed like 1 m/s is a matter of tens of seconds.
There remain problems with this circuit. This is the reason I have gone through all
the following variant schemes. The worst objection is the setting of the balancing
R3 trimmer that is extremely sensitive - when you touch it the reading moves very
far out before returning to near where it was, and this takes a lot of time. Also I
blame this for poor stability in calibration, several times it has differed as much as
a factor oftwo in air speed, taking the instrument out from store. It can be
questioned also on more theoretical grounds. The 'cold' transistor Q2 is also heated
to a variable degree because it conducts the governed current. These current times
the 0.7 volt Q2 voltage is no negligible power. Also the Q1 base-emitter voltage
depends not only on temperature but also on the controlling base current injected
by A1 via R5. This gives a spurious extra voltage right at the most sensitive spot
where bridge balance is sensed; actually causing a positive feedback that may harm
126.96.36.199. Internally heated transistor - alternate layout
The base potentials of the cold reference Q2 and the hot Q1 are directly compared
by the differential amplifier. Q2 is fed with a largely constant current determined
by R1. The amplifier gain is basically R6/R5 resulting from its negative feedback.
The problematic thing is that the servo action to maintain a temperature difference
also implements a positive feedback via R4 and the base-emitter resistance
inherent in Q1. This latter depends rather unpredictably on the Q1 properties. The
original #1 circuit has the same problem, but with the present circuit it is easier to
see this is the case. If the positive feedback is too large, then the circuit will go
unstable or latch up, but this can be cured by increasing R4 or decreasing R6.
4.1.2 EXTERNALLY HEATED DIODE BRIDGE
This circuit remains with the principle of diode forward voltage temperature
dependence, but now the hot diode is externally heated by a resistor. This diode
was clamped to the heater with a tiny strip of brass sheet and also sealed to it with
a drop of cyanoacrylate glue. The photo shows the probe tip cold and heated
diodes. They are mounted on a flexible multiple conductor strip, retrieved from a
head arm of a junked hard disk drive. The glass encapsulated 1N4448 diodes seem
to have a fairly low thermal resistance; the data sheet says 0.24 K/mW including
10 mm leads.
The small voltage developed over R3 purports to govern the forward drop
difference, and hence the temperature difference between the diodes. The gain of
the balance sensing amplifier is by necessity moderated by the R5/R4 feedback
network, together with a big slowing down capacitor C1. There is a delay of heat
transfer from the heater to the heated diode. If the servo loop gain is too high, this
will make the circuit oscillate between fully on and off. The R6 heater resistor
consumes more power than the bare amplifier can deliver, so an intermediate
emitter follower transistor is added. The rather low input voltage bias to the
amplifier from the sensing diodes necessitates D3 to increase the margin of
amplifier negative supply.
The calibration appears to be better reproducible and have a larger air speed range
than circuit #1. Also, the characteristic of voltage U vs. air speed is attractive. But
response is very slow, and possibly somewhat oscillating.
4.1.3INTERNALLY HEATED NTC RESISTOR BRIDGE
The resistance of an NTC (Negative Temperature Coefficient) resistor, often called
thermistor, typically decreases to about half at a 25 degree centigrade temperature
rise. This makes it a very sensitive component, much used in electronic
thermometers. I used Mitsubishi type RH 16 in a common miniature form, a little
bead at the end of two thin connecting leads. In the diagram the left arm of the
bridge is high impedance while the right arm is low impedance. The balance
sensing amplifier provides the bridge feed voltage via a buffer emitter follower to
boost power. When the bridge feed voltage U goes up, then only the low
impedance arm of the bridge is appreciably heated - the high impedance arm holds
another thermistor and is for compensation against ambient temperature change.
This circuit is simple, reliable, and sensitive. But one slight difficulty may be to
find a sufficiently low resistance thermistor such that it can be driven enough hot at
high speed, given the rather low supply voltage. The alternative with R1=10k is for
a very moderate temperature rise, some 5K.
Amazingly, the output sometimes oscillates a trifle with a period of a few seconds,
motivating C1 to quench that. I guess this may be because the NTC chip is heated
unevenly throughout its volume, and that the oscillation period relates to the time it
takes for local heat to even out within the chip.
4.1.4EXTERNALLY HEATED NTC RESISTOR BRIDGE
Also an externally heated version was tried. The photo shows the probe with the
Resistor lashed with thin copper wire to the heater resistor. The original heater
resistor leads are cut off and replaced by 0.24mm wire wrap leads to reduce
uncontrolled thermal leakage. The hot array is isolated from the cold reference
NTC resistor by a lashing of sewing thread.
This circuit performs well, except for its inherent thermal delay between heater and
sensor. This necessitates the slowing down feedback capacitor. Without it the
circuit will oscillate between on and off, with it the final reading is reached after a
prolonged delay, to the order of 30 seconds.
This particular probe design is perhaps not optimal. The red markings show
readings when the probe was rotated in 45 degree increments relative to the airflow
direction. When the 'cold' reference thermistor is located downstream the of the hot
one, then readings go much too high. It might have been better when the cold
reference thermistor had protruded beyond the heated one.
I believe this is a similar principle as used for a hot ball anemometer in The
Amateur Scientist, Sci. Am., and Nov. 1995. I have not been able to retrieve that
article right now, but ISTR that they used thermocouples rather than thermistors.
However, the fairly big balls used there must make it extremely slow, maybe
adequate for measuring average wind speed in meteorology.
4.1.5 HOT WIRE, INTERNALLY HEATED:
The hot wire anemometer is a classical type and appears
to be the one predominantly used for professional work.
An orthodox such probe is made from Wollaston wire, a
thin silver wire with a platinum core (priced like US$
500 for 8 inches of it). After soldering it to its posts
under a microscope you etch away the silver to leave a
sub micrometer diameter platinum wire. An exercise
well beyond most amateurs.
I found a workaround to this by breaking the glass bulb
off a small incandescent lamp, the type shown beside.
After soldering its external connecting leads and lashing
the assembly to a slender wood stick I filed a tiny notch at the bottom of the bulb
(at the mark in the photo). The assembly was cautiously held in a vise and the bulb
broken off, using a loose fitting tube for a lever. It was then mounted in a
protective holder, fabricated from 0.2 mm brass plate.
It must be noted that without its bulb and inert atmosphere the filament cannot
withstand anywhere near the original lamp specification before being burned out.
Be aware the lamp cold resistance is 10-20 times lower than what is given by
nominal voltage and power. This particular lamp happens to have 20 ohms cold
resistance. For tungsten the resistive temp coefficient is 0.0045 /K such that the
bridge balances value of 22 ohms is reached at about 22 degrees centigrade
temperature elevation. This is a very moderate rise, such that correction will be
necessary if ambient temperature deviates appreciably from normal. Tweaking the
fixed resistor values in the bridge allows for some other temperature level. On one
hand R2 should be large enough to ensure the filament is never burnt out. On the
other hand R2 and supply voltage limit heating current such that there is a definite
maximum measurable speed.
Few lamps are constructed such that you can break off the bulb, leaving the
filament intact. Another one I found is a 24 V lamp for decoration candlesticks. A
12V 5W halogen lamp wasmarginally successful, but since that one has a cold
resistance below 1 ohm it draws considerable current and needs an additional
power transistor to drive it.
Having broken the barrier of fabricating a probe, this is my favorite anemometer
beyond all competition. The circuit is simple and stable and measurement time is
milliseconds, shorter than any of the other alternatives by several orders of
magnitude. But indeed this can make it difficult to calibrate, since it follows the
rapid speed variations from any turbulence in the air stream.
One must remember that this poor man's version of a hot wire anemometer has its
limitations. It still does not obey King's law, probably because the lamp filament is
helically coiled, making for an outer diameter vastly larger than that of an orthodox
hot wire. Also the contact between the filament and its post may be questionable
with the low voltage used in this application. At one instance I have repaired a
faulty probe by carefully pinching such a joint with pliers.
4.2.1 AIR SPEED
To get an air stream of known speed I used a
vacuum cleaner, fed from a variable transformer. That
way the fan speed could be set arbitrarily over some
range. The cleaner hose was connected to a Venturi tube
to measure flow rate and the device ended with a nozzle
where the probe under test was placed centrally. To
extend the measurement range I could alternate between
22, 46 and 86 mm diameter nozzles.
Knowing its diameter and assuming a uniform air speed over its intake area A
) it is elementary to convert from flow Q (m
/s) into speed V (m/s): V = Q/A.
After running for a while the fan will heat the air passing it.
To avoid spurious effects from that, air was
sucked from the room rather than blown out from
The flow meter Venturi tube has two probe holes to measure the pressure drop
from input to constriction. By virtue of the Bernoulli law this drop is proportional
to the square of the flow rateand was taken with a water U manometer, later with a
differential pressure transducer. The tube was calibrated by measuring the time
elapsed to fill a plastic bag of known volume. The Venturi expands gradually after
the constriction such that pressure is partially regained. This has nothing to do with
the flow measurement as such, but it reduces the throttling effect of the meter.
There are alternative ways of calibrating for air speed. The probe could be put on a
motor driven trolley, or at the end of a rotating boom. Or you could compare with
some calibrated reference anemometer.
One would like to know the temperature of the probe element. For the thermistor
and hot wire this is simple since the bridge balance criterion (same resistance
ratio both sides) tells about their hot electrical resistance. For those the
temperature can then be computed from their known cold resistance and the
For a direct measurement I used a small oil filled container, carried on a digital
thermometer probe. First the anemometer circuit was left to stabilize in still air
and its output voltage was recorded. The container was heated with a soldering
iron and was then left to cool down slowly while its temperature was tracked by
the thermometer. At intervals the probe hot element was dipped into the oil. At
the point where the anemometer output then stayed at its earlier recorded value,
the oil temperature equals that of the probe tip. The small paper wing in the photo
was to shield the cold reference sensor from hot air rising from the oil bath.
4.3 CALIBRATION OF CYLINDRICAL SENSORS
The physics of fluid flow and convective heat transfer are inextricably
linked by relationships of the general form
Nu = ƒ ( Re, Pr, Kn, ...geometrical factors )
Where the Nusselt, Reynolds, Prandtl and Knudsen Numbers are all non-
dimensional quantities. In the context of a cylindrical thermal anemometer, the
above equation may be expanded to give
WhereV is the fluid density, U is its velocity and Q its viscosity, d is a typical
dimension such as the hot-wire diameter, is the heat loss, L is the wire length, k is
the thermal conductivity and Pthe mean-free path of the fluid and T and T
temperatures of the wire and fluid respectively. The geometrical factors referred
to include not only the length-diameter ratio of the cylinder L/d but also
quantities such as the support geometry for the cylinder and the orientation of the
sensor with respect to the flow. It can be seen that the heat loss depends on many
In 1914, King derived a solution for the heat transfer from an infinite cylinder in
an incompressible low Reynolds number flow that may be written as:
Nu = A' + B' Re
where A' and B' are constants so that
The rate of heat loss to the fluid is equal to the electrical power delivered to the
/R where V is the voltage drop across the sensor and R is its electrical
resistance. If the fluid properties and wire resistance remain constant this
expression reduces to
= A'' + B''U
where A" and B" are constants. When the conductive heat losses to the sensor
supports or the substrate do not change with fluid velocity, the constant A may be
replaced by the quantity V
, where V
is the voltage across the sensor under zero
In practice, the voltage registered at the anemometer output is not that across the
sensor but the e.m.f. E that is applied to the top of the Wheatstone bridge, the two
arms of the bridge acting as potential dividers so that the relationship becomes in
= B U
The constant A may be replaced by the zero-flow voltage E
when high accuracy
is not required. In practice, the value of the exponent changes with sensor and
velocity as do the values of A and B and it¶s therefore necessary to calibrate each
sensor individually and to check this calibration frequently. An exponent of 0.45
is nearer to that found in practice.
Since no universal calibration is available, the sensors must be calibrated. To do
this, a low turbulence flow of known velocity must be used. Ideally, the probe
should be placed into it in the same attitude that it will be used.
In use, errors arise due to changes in ambient temperature and other fluid
properties and due to the deposition of impurities in the flow on the sensor.
Standard procedures are available to correct for the effects of changes in
temperature. The time for which a calibration is valid depends on the individual
situation. In high speed wind tunnels, large particles can remove a wire with
If care is taken and calibrations performed at frequent intervals, then an accuracy
of better than 1 percent can be achieved for hot-wire velocity measurements in
4.4 Probe Response to angle
When a cylindrical sensor is placed so that its axis is not perpendicular to the
flow direction, there will be a component of velocity that is parallel to the axis of
the sensor. If the sensor has infinite length, then the effective cooling velocity
that the sensor experiences is that which is perpendicular to the sensor; the
parallel component has no effect. Thus, the effective cooling velocity ueff may be
obtained from the expression
u cos E = u
whereE is the yaw angle between the flow vector and the normal to the axis of
the sensor. In the case a wire with a finite length, the temperature is not constant
over the length of the wire and aerodynamic perturbations are created by the
prongs. These are taken into account by arguing that the component of velocity
that is parallel to the axis of the wire now contributes to the cooling effect. A
simple probe responds to changes in flow direction in a manner shown in the
figure below. The interference of the prongs can be reduced by using prongs that
are more widely spaced and plating the ends of the sensing wire with copper or
gold to ensure there is little resistance heating except in the central un-plated
portion. In this case variation of pitch angle does not affect the response greatly.
It is important to recognize that cylindrical hot-wire and hot-film sensors are
capable only of determining the magnitude of the velocity (or a vector
component) since the heat transfer is the same whatever the sign of the vector. As
a result, conventional sensors are unsuitable for use when the flow reverses such
as happens inside separation bubbles. Under these circumstances, specialized
multiple sensor probes capable of determining the magnitude and direction of the
flow are required.
Typical hot wire response curve to yaw angle
4.4Velocity and Angle Measurements
Two wires arranged as an X probe can be used to make two-dimensional
measurements. In the three-sensor method that is employed when three-
dimensional information is required, the three elements of a probe are usually
aligned with the axes of a rectangular system of co-ordinates. This probe allows
the simultaneous determination of the three velocity components and six
turbulence quantities but the spatial resolution is relatively poor. A reduced
spatial resolution implies often restricts the effective frequency response much
more than the thermal response of the individual sensors.
The calibration and repair of three sensor probes is very time consuming. An
alternative technique to using multi-sensor probes involves the use just one
sensor but placing the sensor at a number of orientations to the flow. Strictly,
only three orientations are required to find the mean components of velocity but
the method can be improved by using the method of least squares.
The figure below shows a typical measurement situation where U is the mean
fluid velocity that is normal to the wire and u, v and w are velocity fluctuations in
three perpendicular directions. The axis of the sensor is aligned with the w
direction so that the sensor will have a very poor response to the w component
providing that the length-diameter ratio of the sensor is large (i.e. L/d>200).
Therefore, the sensor sees the effective cooling vector U' which, providing v is
not too large, has the same magnitude as (U+u') so that at low turbulence
intensities the wire is measuring the magnitude of the velocity in the direction of
the mean flow. Thus, the stream-wise turbulence intensity can be derived
by calculating the root-mean-square of the velocity-time history. In isotropic
turbulence, this measurement and that of the mean velocity are in error by about
2 percent when the turbulence intensity is about 20 percent.
Mean (U) and Instantaneous (u') flow velocities
To obtain the components of turbulence that are normal to the mean flow vector,
a variety of two and three sensor techniques are used to determine the magnitude
and direction of the instantaneous flow vector. From this, the time-mean and
turbulent flow properties may be found.
4.6Boundary Layer Measurements
It is an unfortunate consequence of the laws of heat transfer that when a heated
element is positioned close to a solid surface, an increase in heat transfer occurs.
A correction must therefore be made to the general form of King's law if accurate
measurements of the blade surface boundary layers are to be obtained. In the case
of a 5 Qm diameter wire, the effect of wall proximity upon the heat transfer
extends to 1-2 mm from the surface so that the effects of wall proximity are
present in many measurements.
The still-air correction technique is the most commonly used. It involves the
measurement of the heat transfer from the wire to the blade surface in still air at
the various locations encountered in the experiment. The heat transfer is
proportional to the square of the bridge output voltage, E
in still air. The general
form of King's law equation is then modified to give
(y) - E
()] = B U
Where the constants A, k and n have the same values as determined from a free-
stream calibration and the term in the square brackets represents the increased
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