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4, AUGUST 2002


Analog Signal Processing in an AC Electromagnetic Flowmeter
Jose Polo, Ramon Pallàs-Areny, Fellow, IEEE, and Juan P. Martín-Vide
Abstract—AC 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 Terms—Analog signal processing, coherent demodulation, electromagnetic flowmeter, synchronous sampling.
Fig. 1. Helmholtz coil pair yields a magnetic field vertical to the flow channel. Because of Faraday’s 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 Faraday’s 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. Pallàs-Areny is with EPS Castelldefels, Departament d’Enginyeria Electrònica, Universitat Politècnica Catalunya, Castelldefels, Spain (e-mail: J. P. Martín-Vide is with the Departament EHMA, Universitat Politècnica 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

Because the magnetic field is proportional to the coil current. The offset voltage of the amplified signal is rejected by a first-order high-pass filter before demodulating it. 3. SYSTEM DESIGN Because electrodes cannot be grounded. 4). Hence. This improves Fig. for flow velocities below 1 m/s. First. fast switching edges induce interfering voltage peaks that are strong enough to saturate the amplifier connected to the electrodes. Choosing Hz guarantees an error magnitude smaller than 0. Trimming improves the overall CMRR. The current edges are exponential rather than linear. and its magnitude is modulated by . which. the signal is synchronously rectified by an amplifier with gain 1. hence yielding a reduced magnetic interference. The chosen frequency of the magnetic field is 6. and the circuit defined by them. II.794 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT.27 A in 500 turns). Coherent demodulation implemented by synchronous rectification and sampling with zero-order hold. However. and the instrumentation ampli. from (1) the useful voltage in the electrodes is in phase with . their leads. Input differential filter and high-gain differential amplifier with ac-coupled output. The electrode contact fier is connected to yield potential (electrochemical potential) is rejected by a differential high-pass input filter [5]. the sensed voltage is differential. Synchronous rectifier and demodulator modeled as multipliers. Nevertheless. a fully differential voltage amplifier precedes a commercial instrumentation amplifier (INA110). 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). it should be recoverable by coherent demodulation [4]. 4. The demodulator is implemented in two stages (Fig.1% at 6. Fig. the common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR) with respect to a single-ended amplifier following an instrumentation amplifier [4]. The estimated magnetic field corresponding to the flat current segments is 2 mT. AUGUST 2002 Fig. The in series with 0. whose corner frequency is . but its transitions have a slower slew rate. A trapezoidal waveform is more suitable than a square waveform because it also provides constant magnitude intervals. 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. VOL. which in our case was 10 V/ s. which (for the coil inductance and resistance in our experimental setup and working frequency) can be obtained from the voltage waveform in Fig. which closes through the conducting water [3]. 51. This is far below the peak interfering voltages induced by capacitive and inductive coupling from the coils to the electrodes.25 Hz. Next. yields electrode voltages smaller than 1 mV. 2.22 H. 5): at the corresponding voltage level and then holds it until it is . in order to obtain a trapezoidal field. 5. the signal amplitude is sampled at each of the two flat quickly charges segments of the detected voltage (Fig. NO. 3) is . we need a trapezoidal current. The gain of the input amplifier (Fig. switched at the fundamental frequency of the coil-driving current ( ). measured coil impedance was 5.1 This yields a current-turn product of 635 A (1. 4.25 Hz and is limited by the slew rate of the available voltage source. In order to achieve a voltage gain of about 9500.

after synabove. The op amp was an OP-97 whose maximal offset voltage was 75 V (30 V . 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. 5 is spectrum contains the sum and difference frequencies of and . whose spectrum demodulator in Fig. similarly and all even harmonics. its frequency components are . 3 and the demodulator in Fig. Rectification is described as the product of the signal by a square waveform with amplitude 1 and 1 (and frequency ). The input frequency component at . tude of and so on. hence to that of . contains the sum and difference frequencies of and a dc component proporthat is. The input frequency component at . whose The output of the rectifier in Fig.: ANALOG SIGNAL PROCESSING IN AN AC ELECTROMAGNETIC FLOWMETER 795 Fig. 5 is and . which follows the demodulator. As a for the input component at result. 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) . that is. and so on. The output of the ponent proportional to the magnitude of . An output low-pass filter (not shown in Fig. Amplifier output voltage for still water in the channel. Furthermore. The voltage picked up by the electrodes for a constant flow velocity has the same frequency components (plus interference). after synchronous rectification and demodulation. Hence.POLO et al. the even harmonics of and a dc com. Sampling is described as the product of the signal by a train (Fig. that is. The combined effect of the cascaded rectifier and sampler can be analyzed by spectral analysis of their input and output signals. updated at the next half-period. and chronous rectification. 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) . 4 with corner frequencies of 0. tional to the magnitude of The driving magnetic field is trapezoidal rather than sinusoidal. we will obtain a dc component proportional to the ampliand a series of frequency components at . holds the voltage correis switched to sponding to the previous flat segment when sample the next flat segment. the even harmonics of . will yield components at will then produce so on. will yield the result discussed . 4) rejects these spurious Hz frequency components. 6.1 Hz for the output low-pass filter. sampling it overcomes the effect of any residual dc-level shift that might make the magnitude of each segment different. holding the voltage at will cancel frequency components at . and so on.25 Hz for the high-pass filter preceding the demodulator and 0. 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). 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. Therefore. III. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS AND DISCUSSION We built the amplifier in Fig. Rectifying the signal before the frequency of S1. It follows that S2 operates at twice . The waveform is the resulting interference from the driving coils to the electrodes and their leads. Hence. Sampling the signal at the flat segments overcomes the interfering voltages induced from the driving coils. Synchronous sampling at the same frequency components plus a dc component.

Nevertheless. Fig. The flat segment following the transient associated with the switching of the magnetic field is clearly distinguished. NO. Instead of a null voltage. the demodulator had an amplitude error smaller than 0.OTT Kempten. but the interference is negligible because of the larger signal amplitude for this flow velocity. 6.25 Hz were. we obtained a large peak of 500 mV followed by a minor undulation. typical).65 V. The measured gain and CMRR at 6. Output voltages corresponding to different average velocities. The peak coincided with magnetic field transitions and was extremely sensitive to lead orientation.796 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENT. 7 shows the voltage waveform when the average velocity was 0. For a trapezoidal signal of 0. 51.1% for offset voltages below 1 V. as expected. Fig. Fig. The average flow velocity was simultaneously measured by a turbine flowmeter (A. 9500 200 and about 107 dB. with an adjustable dc level from 2 V to 2 V (to simulate dc level shifts). 8 shows the dc output voltages . there are two flat segments (close to 0 V in this case). The water channel had a 25 25 cm rectangular cross-section. model C2) whose specified uncertainty was 1% minimum and 5% maximum of the reading. The undulation can be attributed to residual interference. The electrodes were of stainless steel with an area of 25 mm and were placed 10 cm above the bottom of the channel. Fig. respectively. Electrode leads were twisted and placed on an approximately vertical plane parallel to the magnetic field. VOL. 7. Amplifier output voltage for an average water velocity of 0. AUGUST 2002 Fig.6 m/s.6 m/s. The amplitude is ten times higher than that in Fig. 4. 8. 6 shows the voltage waveform detected for still water.

presented in 1989 at the UPC. Barcelona.” IEEE Trans. The present article is a result from his doctoral dissertation. in 1990 and 2000. dealt with instabilities in open-channel flow. Barcelona. “Electromagnetic flowmeters.999 for that electrode pair and for a similar electrode pair placed at 5 cm above the bottom of the channel. 12–16. 1999). pp. 1999. Pallás-Areny and J. Eren. Using a trapezoidal magnetic field limits the magnetic interference to the transitions between field values. New York: Wiley. 1999. Jose Polo received the Ingeniero de Telecomunicación and Doctor Ingeniero de Telecomunicación degrees from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Instrum. The amplifier is ac-coupled to reject electrochemical potential from the electrodes. 1996. 275–279. . he was nominated Professor Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Cluj-Napoca. because it is synchronous. noninvasive physiological measurements. He is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society. In 1989 and 1990. Solved Problems (Barcelona. Webster) of Sensors and Signal Conditioning. thus allowing us to measure voltage during the flat intervals of the magnetic field. A zero-order hold rejects frequency components introduced by rectification and sampling. [3] H. Dr. An output low-pass filter rejects spurious frequency components resulting from heterodyning interference added to the flow signal. In 1999. the latest one being Sensors and Interfaces. Instrum. of the 1991 Andrew R. Barcelona. Ramon Pallàs-Areny (M’81–SM’88–F’98) received the Ingeniero Industrial and Doctor Ingeniero Industrial degrees from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). Barcelona. Spain. (New York: Wiley. They fit a straight line whose equation is (m/s) (mV) (6) The correlation coefficient was better than 0. including water flow and sediment. Michalski. [4] R. Electromagnetic Flow Measurements. 1999). 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. “A novel differential synchronous demodulator for ac signals.. In 2001. He is the author of several books on instrumentation in Spanish and Catalan. 45. 3. He is a member of the research group Distributed Multimedia Applications Group (DMAG). In order to recover the voltage proportional to the average fluid velocity. This analog signal processing method applied to a laboratory channel yields an output voltage proportional to the average velocity for a range from 0. 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. and Sensor Handbook. The rectification overcomes dc shifts in the signal to sample and. Madison. Juan P. Casas and R. dissertation.D. pp. Martín-Vide received the degree in civil engineering in 1982 from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC).25 Hz..1 m/s to 0. G. by multiplexing the signals from different electrode pairs. and Analog Signal Processing (New York: Wiley. Shercliff. and the International Society for Measurement and Control. Chi Prize Paper Award from the Instrumentation and Measurement Society (IEEE). The group works on electronic commerce characterization and modeling. Meas.” IEEE Instrum. pp. 1996.” IEEE Trans. Webster. FL: CRC. Analog Signal Processing. Spain: Edicions UPC. 2000. His main research topic has been river engineering. 45. Instrumentation. focusing on systems where there is a broker agent and where multimedia products and services are purchased.” in The Measurement. [6] R. [2] J. sensor interfaces. Apr. Pallás-Areny and O. in 1997 and 1998. New York: Cambridge Univ. Synchronous sampling permits us to measure only when the signal amplitude is constant. 413–416. Feb. respectively. Pallàs-Areny was a recipient. followed by low-pass filtering. At present. J.POLO et al. [5] O. He is a Professor of electronic engineering at the UPC. with John G. Urbana-Champaign. it only introduces frequency components that are even harmonics of the reference signal. 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 6.95 m/s. Romania. “Flow measurement in open irrigation channels. 2001). Webster. 1962. Meas. he was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar and. G. Casas. Pallás-Areny. Spain. He is also coauthor (with John G. vol. Therefore. we need to amplify and demodulate the voltage detected by the electrodes. in 1975 and 1982. Boca Raton. Press. His research includes instrumentation methods and sensors based on electrical impedance measurements. Their current research and development topics deal about electronic commerce of multimedia products and services. he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Illinois. vol. it would be possible to estimate the velocity profile. The demodulation is performed by synchronously rectifying and sampling the amplified signal.. IV. and he teaches courses in medical and electronic instrumentation. respectively.: ANALOG SIGNAL PROCESSING IN AN AC ELECTROMAGNETIC FLOWMETER 797 for different average velocities. Ed. Webster. Spain. A. Meas. REFERENCES [1] A. His Ph. 2nd ed. Mar. he is an Associate Professor with the Technology Department of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. “Basics of analog differential filters. vol. and electromagnetic compatibility in electronic systems. he was an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. Mag.