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Ultrasonic flowmeters were first introduced for industrial use in 1963 by Tokyo Keiki (which later became Tokimec) in Tokyo, Japan. In 1972, Controlotron (Hauppauge, New York) became the first U.S. manufacturer to market ultrasonic flowmeters in the United States.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, both Panametrics (Waltham, Massachusetts) and Ultraflux (Poissy Cedex, France) experimented with the use of ultrasonic flowmeters to measure gas flow. Initially, ultrasonic flowmeters were not well understood, and were sometimes misapplied. Many technological improvements have been made in the past 10 years, and the limitations of ultrasonic meters are better understood. Advances in transit time technology have broadened the types of liquids that transit time flowmeters can be used on. Many transit time meters today can handle liquids containing some impurities.

There are two main types of ultrasonic flowmeters: transit-time and Doppler. Transit-time ultrasonic flowmeters are distinguished according to the number of “paths” they have. Multipath ultrasonic meters have three or more paths.

More on these topics:

Custody transfer

In 1998, the American Gas Association (AGA) approved the use of ultrasonic flowmeters for custody transfer applications. Since that time, suppliers have researched multipath meters and brought out new products. 
The main suppliers of ultrasonic flowmeters for custody transfer of natural gas include Emerson Daniel, Elster-Instromet, Sick, and FMC Technologies. More recently, KROHNE has also released the Altosonic V12, a 12 chord meter for custody transfer of gas applications. Cameron, which has traditionally had petroleum liquid applications, has released the LEFM 380Ci, an eight path ultrasonic meter for natural gas applications.

Most ultrasonic multipath meters for custody transfer of natural gas have four, five, or six paths. However, in May 2011, Elster announced a new six-path ultrasonic gas meter that has six paths and sixteen chords. The additional number of chords enables the flowmeter to take into account flow profile and turbulence, and provides additional diagnostic capabilities.

Two companies that are prominent in custody transfer of petroleum liquids are Caldon (now a division of Cameron) and Faure Herman (www.faureherman.com). Caldon used to have ultrasonic meters designed primarily for the nuclear industry. However, in recent years, the company has expanded its application range to include the oil and gas industry. Caldon has two-path, four-path, and eight path meters for liquid applications. The company was acquired by Cameron in January 2006. Caldon’s flowmeters are among the most expensive ultrasonic meters made.

Faure Herman, which is based in France, is well known for its helical blade turbine flowmeters. However, it also offers what it calls an 18-path ultrasonic flowmeter for custody transfer of liquids. In addition to custody transfer, Faure Herman’s ultrasonic flowmeter is designed for process applications. Faure Herman was acquired by IDEX Corporation in February 2007.  IDEX sold the company to Le Garrec & Co. in 2017.

KROHNE is another company that has made its mark in custody transfer of liquids, with its ALTOSONIC V and ALTOSONIC III offerings.

Learn more about New Technology Flowmeters:

Important historical events in the ultrasonic flowmeter market 
Interkama 2008 KROHNE introduces ALTOSONIC V-6, which is designed for non-custody transfer gas flow measurement
2009 KROHNE introduces ALTOSONIC V-12, which is designed for custody transfer gas flow measurement. The V-12 has 12 chords.
August 2009 GE Sensing releases SENTINEL LCT (Liquid Custody Transfer) and SENTINEL LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas)
April 2010 Siemens releases the FUT1010, an ultrasonic flowmeter for the hydrocarbon industry; available for both gas and liquids
Q4 2010 Elis Plzen adds the FLOWMIC and SONOELIS to its ultrasonic water industry line
May 2011 Emerson Daniel introduces the 3812 Liquid Ultrasonic Flowmeter
May 2011 Elster introduces the Q.Sonic Plus Ultrasonic Flowmeter at the American Gas Association (AGA) Conference in Nashville, TN. The Q.Sonic Plus has six paths and 16 chords.
October 2011 Cameron (Caldon) displays its new eight-path LEFM380Ci gas flowmeter for custody transfer at the North Sea Workshop in Norway
Janauary 2012 Badger Meter acquires Racine Federated
May 2012 KROHNE introduces its OPTISONIC 7300 Ultrasonic Flowmeter for process gas applications
June 2012 Melrose PLC acquires Elster Group

For further information on ultrasonic flowmeters, including detailed market reports, please see www.flowultrasonic.com.

Flow Research, Inc. | 27 Water Street | Wakefield, MA 01880 | (781) 245-3200 | (781) 224-7552 (fax) | (800) 245-1799 (from the USA) | info@flowresearch.com

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