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4, AUGUST 2002


Analog Signal Processing in an AC Electromagnetic Flowmeter

Jose Polo, Ramon Palls-Areny, Fellow, IEEE, and Juan P. Martn-Vide
AbstractAC electromagnetic flowmeters yield a low-frequency signal whose amplitude is proportional to the average fluid velocity. Typically, the input signal magnitude is below 1 mV and suffers a strong electric and magnetic interference from the coils that create the driving magnetic field. This paper provides a novel circuit design to amplify and demodulate the voltage picked up by the electrodes and to minimize interference. The amplifier includes a fully differential front end. The demodulation consists of synchronous rectification and sampling with zero-order hold followed by low-pass filtering. The result is a 0.25-mV/(m/s)/mT voltage, insensitive to dc level shifts. Index TermsAnalog signal processing, coherent demodulation, electromagnetic flowmeter, synchronous sampling.
Fig. 1. Helmholtz coil pair yields a magnetic field vertical to the flow channel. Because of Faradays law of induction, a conductive fluid flow yields a potential difference across the channel.

I. INTRODUCTION ATER management requires the control of irrigation channels. Electromagnetic flowmeters sense the average water velocity. They are noninvasive, do not need any periodic maintenance, unlike hydraulic methods such as weirs and flumes, and display several advantages compared with ultrasonic flowmeters [1]. Hence, they suit flow measurements in open channels. Electromagnetic flowmeters rely on Faradays law of induction: a conductive fluid flow across a magnetic field generates a potential difference in the direction perpendicular to both the fluid flow and the magnetic field. For a uniform velocity perpendicular to a vertical magnetic field and a channel width , the voltage across the channel is [2]

(1) The voltage induced in the fluid is sensed by flushed metal electrodes. Because the magnitude of that voltage is proportional to the average fluid velocity, it will be small for low velocities, unless we apply a very strong magnetic field, which is difficult to generate. A convenient method of creating a uniform magnetic field in a laboratory channel is to use a pair of Helmholtz coils placed above and below the channel (Fig. 1). The waveform of the magnetic field strongly influences the resulting interference on the sensing electrodes and their leads. A dc magnetic field would
Manuscript received May 29, 2001; revised May 9, 2002. J. Polo is with the Departament Tecnologia, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. R. Palls-Areny is with EPS Castelldefels, Departament dEnginyeria Electrnica, Universitat Politcnica Catalunya, Castelldefels, Spain (e-mail: J. P. Martn-Vide is with the Departament EHMA, Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIM.2002.803401

Fig. 2. Voltage waveform and resulting coil current (proportional to the driving magnetic field created).

yield a dc voltage proportional to the flow velocity, and that voltage would receive interference from electrochemical reactions in the electrodes. Furthermore, because of the transformer effect, a sinusoidal field would continuously induce a voltage in any circuit loop linked by the magnetic flux. Ideally, if the leads connected to the electrodes were in a plane parallel to that of the flux, no electromotive force would be induced in the loop they form (which closes across the water). Nevertheless, these leads are seldom parallel to the magnetic field. Hence, a sinusoidal magnetic field induces a voltage in the electrode loop that hinders the measurement.

0018-9456/02$17.00 2002 IEEE



Fig. 3.

Input differential filter and high-gain differential amplifier with ac-coupled output.

A magnetic field with a square waveform does not induce any voltage by transformer effect when its magnitude is constant (flat segments of the waveform). However, fast switching edges induce interfering voltage peaks that are strong enough to saturate the amplifier connected to the electrodes. A trapezoidal waveform is more suitable than a square waveform because it also provides constant magnitude intervals, but its transitions have a slower slew rate, hence yielding a reduced magnetic interference. Because the magnetic field is proportional to the coil current, in order to obtain a trapezoidal field, we need a trapezoidal current, which (for the coil inductance and resistance in our experimental setup and working frequency) can be obtained from the voltage waveform in Fig. 2. The current edges are exponential rather than linear. The chosen frequency of the magnetic field is 6.25 Hz and is limited by the slew rate of the available voltage source, which in our case was 10 V/ s. The in series with 0.22 H. measured coil impedance was 5.1 This yields a current-turn product of 635 A (1.27 A in 500 turns). The estimated magnetic field corresponding to the flat current segments is 2 mT, which, for flow velocities below 1 m/s, yields electrode voltages smaller than 1 mV. This is far below the peak interfering voltages induced by capacitive and inductive coupling from the coils to the electrodes, their leads, and the circuit defined by them, which closes through the conducting water [3]. Nevertheless, from (1) the useful voltage in the electrodes is in phase with , and its magnitude is modulated by . Hence, it should be recoverable by coherent demodulation [4]. This paper describes a novel circuit to amplify and demodulate the signal from a laboratory open-channel electromagnetic flowmeter that provides high gain and minimizes interference and dc voltage drifts by using a fully differential filter and preamplifier and demodulation based on synchronous rectification and sampling. II. SYSTEM DESIGN Because electrodes cannot be grounded, the sensed voltage is differential. In order to achieve a voltage gain of about 9500, a fully differential voltage amplifier precedes a commercial instrumentation amplifier (INA110). This improves

Fig. 4. Coherent demodulation implemented by synchronous rectification and sampling with zero-order hold.

Fig. 5.

Synchronous rectifier and demodulator modeled as multipliers.

the common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR) with respect to a single-ended amplifier following an instrumentation amplifier [4]. The gain of the input amplifier (Fig. 3) is , and the instrumentation ampli. The electrode contact fier is connected to yield potential (electrochemical potential) is rejected by a differential high-pass input filter [5], whose corner frequency is . Choosing Hz guarantees an error magnitude smaller than 0.1% at 6.25 Hz. Trimming improves the overall CMRR. The offset voltage of the amplified signal is rejected by a first-order high-pass filter before demodulating it. The demodulator is implemented in two stages (Fig. 4). First, the signal is synchronously rectified by an amplifier with gain 1, switched at the fundamental frequency of the coil-driving current ( ). Next, the signal amplitude is sampled at each of the two flat quickly charges segments of the detected voltage (Fig. 5): at the corresponding voltage level and then holds it until it is



Fig. 6. Amplifier output voltage for still water in the channel. The waveform is the resulting interference from the driving coils to the electrodes and their leads.

updated at the next half-period. holds the voltage correis switched to sponding to the previous flat segment when sample the next flat segment. It follows that S2 operates at twice . Rectifying the signal before the frequency of S1, that is, sampling it overcomes the effect of any residual dc-level shift that might make the magnitude of each segment different. Sampling the signal at the flat segments overcomes the interfering voltages induced from the driving coils. The combined effect of the cascaded rectifier and sampler can be analyzed by spectral analysis of their input and output signals. Rectification is described as the product of the signal by a square waveform with amplitude 1 and 1 (and frequency ). Sampling is described as the product of the signal by a train (Fig. 5). We first of pulses of unit amplitude and frequency assume that the input signal to process (electrode voltage) is sinusoidal with frequency (that of the driving magnetic field) (2) . The square waveform modeling the reference and voltage for the rectifier can be expressed as the sum of odd harmonics with decreasing amplitude (3) The pulse train of the sampler has a comb-like spectrum that includes all harmonics of (4) , whose The output of the rectifier in Fig. 5 is spectrum contains the sum and difference frequencies of and , that is, the even harmonics of and a dc com. The output of the ponent proportional to the magnitude of , whose spectrum demodulator in Fig. 5 is and , contains the sum and difference frequencies of and a dc component proporthat is, the even harmonics of , hence to that of . tional to the magnitude of

The driving magnetic field is trapezoidal rather than sinusoidal. Hence, its frequency components are , and so on. The voltage picked up by the electrodes for a constant flow velocity has the same frequency components (plus interference). The input frequency component at , after synchronous rectification and demodulation, will yield the result discussed , after synabove. The input frequency component at , and chronous rectification, will yield components at will then produce so on. Synchronous sampling at the same frequency components plus a dc component, similarly and all even harmonics. As a for the input component at result, we will obtain a dc component proportional to the ampliand a series of frequency components at , tude of and so on. The transfer function for a zero-order hold lasting is [6] (5) ( being any inwhich has a zero amplitude response at for half a period of teger). Hence, holding the voltage at will cancel frequency components at , and so on. Therefore, the output spectrum will have a dc component corresponding to the fluid velocity plus spurious frequency components that result from heterodyning input interference and the reference signals used to control the rectifier and sampler. An output low-pass filter (not shown in Fig. 4) rejects these spurious Hz frequency components. Furthermore, selecting ( 50 Hz/8) helps in reducing 50 Hz interference from power lines because of the null amplitude of the frequency response of the zero-order hold at that frequency and its harmonics. III. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS AND DISCUSSION We built the amplifier in Fig. 3 and the demodulator in Fig. 4 with corner frequencies of 0.25 Hz for the high-pass filter preceding the demodulator and 0.1 Hz for the output low-pass filter, which follows the demodulator. The op amp was an OP-97 whose maximal offset voltage was 75 V (30 V



Fig. 7.

Amplifier output voltage for an average water velocity of 0.6 m/s.

Fig. 8.

Output voltages corresponding to different average velocities.

typical). The measured gain and CMRR at 6.25 Hz were, respectively, 9500 200 and about 107 dB. For a trapezoidal signal of 0.65 V, with an adjustable dc level from 2 V to 2 V (to simulate dc level shifts), the demodulator had an amplitude error smaller than 0.1% for offset voltages below 1 V. The water channel had a 25 25 cm rectangular cross-section. The electrodes were of stainless steel with an area of 25 mm and were placed 10 cm above the bottom of the channel. Electrode leads were twisted and placed on an approximately vertical plane parallel to the magnetic field. The average flow velocity was simultaneously measured by a turbine flowmeter (A.OTT Kempten, model C2) whose specified uncertainty was 1% minimum and 5% maximum of the reading.

Fig. 6 shows the voltage waveform detected for still water. Instead of a null voltage, we obtained a large peak of 500 mV followed by a minor undulation. The peak coincided with magnetic field transitions and was extremely sensitive to lead orientation. The undulation can be attributed to residual interference. Nevertheless, there are two flat segments (close to 0 V in this case), as expected. Fig. 7 shows the voltage waveform when the average velocity was 0.6 m/s. The amplitude is ten times higher than that in Fig. 6. The flat segment following the transient associated with the switching of the magnetic field is clearly distinguished, but the interference is negligible because of the larger signal amplitude for this flow velocity. Fig. 8 shows the dc output voltages



for different average velocities. They fit a straight line whose equation is (m/s) (mV) (6)

The correlation coefficient was better than 0.999 for that electrode pair and for a similar electrode pair placed at 5 cm above the bottom of the channel. Therefore, by multiplexing the signals from different electrode pairs, it would be possible to estimate the velocity profile. IV. CONCLUSION The ac electromagnetic flowmeters yield a small ac voltage compounded with strong interference because of the driving coils used to produce the magnetic field. Using a trapezoidal magnetic field limits the magnetic interference to the transitions between field values, thus allowing us to measure voltage during the flat intervals of the magnetic field. In order to recover the voltage proportional to the average fluid velocity, we need to amplify and demodulate the voltage detected by the electrodes. The amplifier is ac-coupled to reject electrochemical potential from the electrodes. Using a differential filter followed by a fully differential amplifier plus a commercial instrumentation amplifier yields a gain about 9500 and a CMRR about 107 dB at the working frequency of 6.25 Hz. The demodulation is performed by synchronously rectifying and sampling the amplified signal, followed by low-pass filtering. The rectification overcomes dc shifts in the signal to sample and, because it is synchronous, it only introduces frequency components that are even harmonics of the reference signal. Synchronous sampling permits us to measure only when the signal amplitude is constant. A zero-order hold rejects frequency components introduced by rectification and sampling. An output low-pass filter rejects spurious frequency components resulting from heterodyning interference added to the flow signal. This analog signal processing method applied to a laboratory channel yields an output voltage proportional to the average velocity for a range from 0.1 m/s to 0.95 m/s. This method can readily be applied to other coil configurations and to applications involving low flow velocities and high interference arising from either the driving coils or from an external interference source. REFERENCES
[1] A. Michalski, Flow measurement in open irrigation channels, IEEE Instrum. Meas. Mag., vol. 3, pp. 1216, Mar. 2000. [2] J. A. Shercliff, Electromagnetic Flow Measurements. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1962. [3] H. Eren, Electromagnetic flowmeters, in The Measurement, Instrumentation, and Sensor Handbook, J. G. Webster, Ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1999.

[4] R. Palls-Areny and J. G. Webster, Analog Signal Processing. New York: Wiley, 1999. [5] O. Casas and R. Palls-Areny, Basics of analog differential filters, IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas., vol. 45, pp. 275279, Feb. 1996. [6] R. Palls-Areny and O. Casas, A novel differential synchronous demodulator for ac signals, IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas., vol. 45, pp. 413416, Apr. 1996.

Jose Polo received the Ingeniero de Telecomunicacin and Doctor Ingeniero de Telecomunicacin degrees from the Universitat Politcnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, in 1990 and 2000, respectively. The present article is a result from his doctoral dissertation. At present, he is an Associate Professor with the Technology Department of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. He is a member of the research group Distributed Multimedia Applications Group (DMAG). Their current research and development topics deal about electronic commerce of multimedia products and services. The group works on electronic commerce characterization and modeling, focusing on systems where there is a broker agent and where multimedia products and services are purchased.

Ramon Palls-Areny (M81SM88F98) received the Ingeniero Industrial and Doctor Ingeniero Industrial degrees from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Barcelona, Spain, in 1975 and 1982, respectively. He is a Professor of electronic engineering at the UPC, and he teaches courses in medical and electronic instrumentation. In 1989 and 1990, he was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar and, in 1997 and 1998, he was an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2001, he was nominated Professor Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. His research includes instrumentation methods and sensors based on electrical impedance measurements, sensor interfaces, noninvasive physiological measurements, and electromagnetic compatibility in electronic systems. He is the author of several books on instrumentation in Spanish and Catalan, the latest one being Sensors and Interfaces, Solved Problems (Barcelona, Spain: Edicions UPC, 1999). He is also coauthor (with John G. Webster) of Sensors and Signal Conditioning, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley, 2001), and Analog Signal Processing (New York: Wiley, 1999). Dr. Palls-Areny was a recipient, with John G. Webster, of the 1991 Andrew R. Chi Prize Paper Award from the Instrumentation and Measurement Society (IEEE). He is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the International Society for Measurement and Control.

Juan P. Martn-Vide received the degree in civil engineering in 1982 from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Barcelona, Spain. His Ph.D. dissertation, presented in 1989 at the UPC, dealt with instabilities in open-channel flow. His main research topic has been river engineering, including water flow and sediment. In 1999, he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.