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A static turbine flow meter with a micromachined silicon torque sensor

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3 Author(s)
N. Svedin ; Dept. of Signals, R. Inst. of Technol. Stockholm, Sweden ; E. Stemme ; G. Stemme

A new class of flow sensors is introduced where a static turbine converts the volume flow into a torque. The structure consists of a turbine fixed to a torque sensor, which in turn is connected to the pipe wall giving a perfectly symmetric, bidirectional flowmeter. In contrast to conventional turbine flowmeters, the wheel does not rotate and consequently it is insensitive to bearing friction and wear that conventional, rotating turbines experience. Furthermore, the flow passing the wheel is distributed over the circumference of the wheel and levels out nonuniform flow profiles leading to profile independent volumetric flow measurement. The torque-sensing element is a 300-μm-thick silicon cantilever, 2 mm wide and 16 mm long. The stiffness of the torque sensor, and thereby the sensitivity, is mainly determined by lateral dimensions of specially designed stiffness reduction parts defined by photolithography, thus giving good control of the sensitivity. Two polysilicon strain gauges are placed on each side of the cantilever, measuring the bending moment from the turbine wheel. The torque sensor has been evaluated for different geometries and together with the turbine to evaluate the flow sensing performance. A turbine with a blade length of 2.7 mm and a blade angle of 30° has a sensitivity of 4.0 μV/V/(1/min)2 when measured using the silicon torque sensor. The output signal shows good symmetry between different flow directions.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:12 ,  Issue: 6 )