Seven Common Thermal Mass Flow Meter Applications

Thermal mass flow meters make up a small percentage of the overall gas flow meter market, yet are used in dozens of applications in many different industries.

Background

Common Thermal Mass Flow Meter Applications
In the 1990s, thermal mass flow meters were introduced to measure the flow of emissions at multiple points within large emissions stacks.

Thermal mass flow meters encompass a small share of flow technology market. They are a relatively young, yet fast-growing technology, given that they found their niche in the early 1990s. Their growth is mainly driven by the global commitment to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. In the 1990s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required U.S. companies to detect and reduce their emissions to address the acid rain concern. It was during this period that continuous emission monitoring (CEM) emerged as a way of monitoring pollution, and thermal mass flow meters were introduced to measure the flow of emissions at multiple points within large emissions stacks.

To date, there has been a global push to reduce emissions to address global warming or climate change, including the current administration’s goal of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050.

7 Common Thermal Mass Flow Meter Applications

Among the seven common applications cited here, most involve using the meters to address some type of environmental issue, whether it be emissions reporting, efficiency, or energy management.

Aeration Air – The activated sludge process at wastewater treatment plants, treats sewage, and wastewaters.  In this process, microorganisms require air flow to break down organic waste. An optimum air flow is sought to achieve consumption of waste by the microorganisms while not providing excessive, costly flow.

Biogas Production – Biogas is produced from landfills as landfill gas and anaerobic digesters as digester gas. It is also created in other processes. Biogas is high in methane and often the focus of biogas-to-energy projects. Throughout the production, accurate gas flow measurement is needed, whether for monitoring, biogas destruction or cogeneration. Additionally, accurate gas flow is necessary for GHG emissions reporting to environmental agencies and carbon credit programs.

Combustion Air – Combustion efficiency and energy management are achieved when optimizing air-to-fuel ratios through precise and repeatable gas flow measurement. Direct measurement of combustion air flow and fuel flow offer the measures needed to reach peak efficiency.

Compressed Air – Industrial air compressors use more electricity than most industrial equipment and comprise of a third of the energy use in a facility. A thermal mass meter helps determine the optimal number of compressor units needed. Additionally, thermal mass meters help delineate the level of leakage in a system and help compute the lost energy.

Flare Gas – The measurement and monitoring of flare gas are necessary to reassure that the flare system is functioning properly. Some factors complicate measuring flare gas, including varying gas compositions.

Natural Gas to Combustion Sources – Combustion sources such as furnaces and boilers have different efficiencies. By measuring the natural gas flow rate to a combustion source, you may determine which process is more efficient.  The thermal mass flow meter is ideal for measuring natural gas flow rates to individual combustion sources.

Natural Gas Submetering – In facilities with different cost centers, submetering natural gas is frequently performed for cost allocations. Studies have shown that there is an increased motivation to improve efficiency and reduce natural gas usage when the departments are responsible for their utility costs.

To understand the scope of applications thermal mass flow meters serve, check out our application pages.

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