Flowmeters get around

The lowly flowmeter ends up in some of the most interesting places. CONTROL contributor and flow expert David W. Spitzer shares some odd and interesting flow measurement applications.

By David W. Spitzer

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     HITTING THE SLOPES
  Ultrasonic Flowmeters
 

Ultrasonic flowmeters in this snowmaking machine measure the water flow to the slope, while differential pressure flowmeters measure the return water. The difference between the two measurements is the amount of snow being made by the snowmaking machines. (Photo courtesy of Gunstock Mountain Resort.)

Jack Bradley, mountain maintenance services manager at Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, N.H., maintains the snowmaking machines and the system that circulates water to the various snowmakers’ connections on the mountain. “Ultrasonic flowmeters measure the water flow to the slope, while differential pressure flowmeters measure the return water. The difference between the two measurements is the amount of snow being made by the snowmaking machines.

“However, this system is particularly important during start-up or when no snow is being made. Large differences between the two measurements at these times can indicate a potential leak or open connection. The leaks not only waste water, but also can cause a safety hazard when the water freezes and turns into ice,” explains Bradley. 

Roller Coaster Ride
Have you ever accelerated from 0 to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds or ascended and descended over 450 feet in a few seconds? You would have if you’d ridden the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world—Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J.

Craig Miklencic, sales engineer at Applied Analytics got the call to supply ABB magnetic flowmeters to measure the cooling water for the hydraulic system used to accelerate the roller coaster and catapult it up its structure.

 

REGULATING THE FUN     
Six Flags Great America  
Magnetic flowmeters measure the cooling water for the hydraulic system that drives the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J. (Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure.)
 

However, it’s not just the Kingda Ka ride that needs flowmeters at the amusement park. Keith Edmonds, PE, infrastructure and environmental engineer at engineering consultancy Hatch Mott McDonald, says, “This project was so large that several engineering companies were necessary to complete the design and construction within the project schedule.”

Hatch had extensive experience with Great Adventure’s independent infrastructure that supports the park, its rides and numerous entertainment features. In particular, the independent water and wastewater handling systems contain multiple production wells, a water treatment plant, storage and distribution systems, and multiple industrial filtration systems to maintain water quality for a variety of rides.

 

     A WILD RIDE
  Six Flags Great Adventure
 

The hydraulic system pushes the Kingda Ka roller coaster up this steep structure and accelerates the cars from 0 mph to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds. (Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure.)

This industrial expertise was used in the design and construction of the cooling system for the hydraulic drive of the roller coaster that’s critical to its operation and, in particular, the design and installation of its cooling water flowmeter to ensure proper operation. 

Flowmeters are workhorses that turn up in the all the “usual” places, such as chemical and petrochemical plants, steel mills, paper mills, water and wastewater plants, and food production machinery. Because they’re so ubiquitous, they tend to be overlooked. More glamorous technology gets all the ink.

However, many flowmeters have this knack of turning up in unusual applications. Whether you’re on the world’s tallest roller coaster, down in a sewer, 100 ft. below the Great Lakes, skiing down a mountain, driving a car, or just sitting at home, a flowmeter is probably closer than you might think.

 


  About the Author

David W. SpitzerDavid W. Spitzer, a principal at Spitzer and Boyes, LLC, can be reached at 845.623.1830 or at spitzerandboyes.com.

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