Alicat releases new flow calibrator for air quality samplers

 by Shaina Shay

Satisfy air quality monitoring standards and ensure good data with ease and accuracy using the FP-25 flow calibration kit.

Alicat FP-25 Calibrator

Tucson, September 26, 2019 – Today Alicat’s Environmental Monitoring division released their new and improved FP-25 flow calibration kit.  This calibration kit includes everything needed for auditing, calibrating, and leak checking air quality sampling instruments.

What’s included:

  • Portable FP-25 flow calibrator – with rechargeable battery
  • External temperature probe
  • Bluetooth antenna
  • Micro-USB to USB cable and adapter for charging and communications
  • 1/4″ NPT barb adapter (1/4″ barb) with face seal
  • 1/4″ NPT fittings with face seals for pass-through connection to 1-1/4″ OD air sampler downtubes
  • NIST-traceable calibration certificate
  • Operating Manual
  • Custom-fit hard case

The FP-25 flow calibrator uses advanced laminar flow technology that provides accurate measurements at a wider range of flow rates and temperatures when compared to DryCal technology.

“Alicat recognizes that new and emerging air quality challenges require improved technologies. That is why we are proud to introduce our upgraded FP-25 flow calibrator. It’s time to update your tech and expect more of your calibrator.”

Designed for the field.

The FP-25 is durable, reliable, and accurate. With an IP67 rating this device can be used in any weather and any temperature, from -30C to +60C. This FP-25 uses drop resistant laminar flow technology which means no glass, no pistons, and no problems.

This is the first calibrator with Bluetooth capabilities. Alicat has designed a tailored app that is available for IOS or Android devices. The Alicat Connect app now features a data logging function so you can capture your flow data in real time.

Technicians can now complete audits remotely, reducing the time needed for air quality sampler calibration. Improve work safety by reducing the number of trips up and down ladders.

“The FP-25 calibrator is everything you need to comply with government regulations and ensure good data in one, easy to use device.”

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Correcting for temperature and pressure effects on sensors

 by Alicat Scientific

Alicat recently rolled out a major update to the main circuit board and sensors on our mass flow devices. Improvements in our sensors and advanced our understanding of flow physics have brought about changes in our circuitry to ensure you’re getting the maximum performance out of every part of your Alicat mass flow device.

The high resolution information we get from our new circuit board gives us a better picture of what’s happening in the flow path of our devices than ever before. One thing this lets us see very clearly is how tiny changes in operating conditions alter the behavior of our sensors. Compensating for these changes lets us build devices which give more repeatable measurements and are less prone to drift.

Separating the signal from the sensor

A perfect sensor would map to external physical properties 1:1 with its output signal under any conditions.  But sensors and circuits are made of matter and their behavior changes as their physical state changes. Alicat sensors are no exception, as our electronics warm up and our sensors are compressed by process gas the signal we are interested in changes.

Alicat compensates for this variation in sensor behavior using the one of the strengths of our measurement technique: multiple independent sensors. In each of our flow instruments a differential pressure sensor provides our main tool to measure flow while absolute pressure and temperature sensors allow us to correct this volumetric flow rate to a mass flow rate. Read more on our theory of operation of laminar differential pressure flow measurement. As long we characterize the response of each sensor to pressure and temperature shifts beforehand we can use software to correct sensor output based on operating conditions.

From straight lines to curves

The previous generation of Alicat instruments used a linear compensation technique for temperature and pressure. Each device had its sensor offset measured at ambient and high temperature/pressure. We interpolated these two points to make a straight calibration line. In our new release, we’ve improved our modeling to more effectively model the physical systems we’re dealing with to create a non-linear interpolation of sensor state changes.

On a new Alicat device each sensor and circuit board combination is characterized in an environmental chamber at the full range of the device’s expected operating temperatures and pressures. This produces smooth compensation curves which better account for real sensor behavior.  The improvement is profound and especially noticeable at low temperature:

Shift in absolute pressure reading with varying temperature. Current generation in blue and previous generation in red.

By pairing better hardware with this software compensation the newest generation of Alicat devices is more capable than ever before. We’re now running into the limits of flow physics instead of sensor noise. Ongoing research into gas behavior and improvements to our flow channel will help us unlock the full potential of our devices moving forward.

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

NEW HOLLOW SHAFT MULTI-TURN KIT ENCODERS FOR POSITION CONTROL APPLICATIONS

NEW HOLLOW SHAFT MULTI-TURN KIT ENCODERS
FOR POSITION CONTROL APPLICATIONS

through_holllow_kit_composing_4

Slim Form Factor for Motor and Machine Manufacturers

POSITAL is introducing a new family of absolute rotary encoders for servomotors, stepper motors, robot joints and anywhere else a hollow center design is needed to achieve an optimal mechanical layout. Both single and multi-turn variants are available; for multi-turn models, the rotation counter is self-powered, using POSITAL’s Wiegand energy-harvesting technology. This eliminates the need for backup batteries and lowers maintenance costs.

  • Hollow Center Design for Optimal Mechanical Layout on Robotic Joints and Drives Shafts
  • 30 mm or 50 mm Internal Diameter Sizes Available
  • Battery-less Rotation Counter Based on Energy-Harvesting Technology
  • Capacitive Measurement System Allows for High Accuracy Even in Harsh Environments
  • Non-Proprietary Interfaces of SSI and BiSS C Standards

Capacitive Measurement Technology

These new products make use of a capacitive measurement system. Each encoder has two principle components, a stator and rotor, both containing specially shaped conductive surfaces. These surfaces, which function as capacitor plates, are positioned in close proximity. As the rotor turns, the patterns of the conductive surfaces change their relative position, causing changes to capacitive coupling in the system. This in turn causes changes to the amplitude and phase angle of a high-frequency electrical signal generated by exciter circuits in the stator. Special ASIC devices capture and decode these signal variations to determine the rotor’s angular position to a high level of precision.

Read more on the technology here.

The new POSITAL hollow shaft kit encoders offer excellent accuracy (+/- 0.02°) and dynamic response (up to 6000 RPM), making them suitable for use in critical motion control systems. However, what makes them especially useful in many applications is their shape. Both stator and rotor elements are in the form of disks with large central openings. This makes them an ideal choice in space-limited situations, such as servomotors, stepper motors or the joints in robotic arms , where it is desirable to have an embedded position sensor fitting around a central shaft or axle.

POSITAL hollow shaft kit encoders will be available in two sizes, with 30 mm or 50 mm internal diameters. Non-proprietary SSI and BiSS C communications interfaces are supported. 

Energy Harvesting – No Battery

battery_icon

The energy harvesting system is based on the Wiegand effect and eliminates the need for backup batteries or complex gear systems. 

Read More about the Wiegand Effect

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Theory of Operation: FP-25 Field Flow Calibrator for PM Air Samplers

by Shruti Thakur

Alicat’s FP-25 and FP-25BT flow devices can be used to calibrate any low-volume particulate air sampler on your deck. These NIST- traceable field flow calibration devices are multi-parameter mass flow meters that display pressure and temperature. The FP-25 uses multiple pressure sensors to capture both ambient barometric pressure and internal flow stream pressure, resulting in all-weather accuracy.

These flow standards operate on the principle of differential pressure-based laminar flow measurement. The barometric pressure sensor monitors ambient atmospheric pressure and is housed within the instrument casing above the display.  The internal flow stream pressure sensor monitors pressure inside the FP-25’s flow body work in concert to generate flow and pressure readings. This sensor package monitors both differential pressure and absolute pressure within the flow stream directly. The FP-25 also uses two fast-responding temperature sensors, one mounted directly in the flow stream and one located at the tip of the external temperature probe. The FP-25 uses this raw data from the multiple pressure, temperature and humidity sensors to calculate both actual (volumetric) and standardized (mass) flow readings a thousand times every second.

Poiseuille’s equation for laminar flow measurement

Q=K∆P/Ƞ

At its heart, the FP-25’s flow measurement is based on laminar flow differential pressure technology. The FP-25 measures differential pressure, similar to Venturi products.  A stack of plates and spacers, called a laminar flow element, is used to laminarize the flow and create a pressure drop. A sensor measures the differential pressure across a section of the laminar flow element with known pressure drop, another measures the absolute pressure of the fluid and the flow stream temperature sensor measures the temperature of ambient air in the flow stream. By laminarizing flow, the Poiseuille equation can be used to determine the raw volumetric flow.

To the first order, the Hagen-Poiseuille equation can be used to determine the raw internal volumetric flow rate as follows:

Where:

Q = Volumetric flow rate

K = A constant factor determined by the internal geometry of the restriction

∆P = Differential pressure across the LFE

Ƞ = Absolute viscosity of air

Equation (i) demonstrated the dependence of flow rate on the gas viscosity. Because the actual viscosity of a gas varies with changes in temperature and relative humidity, the FP-25 continuously updates the viscosity value with live readings of flow stream temperature, relative humidity, and pressure to provide accurate flow readings all the way to 100% RH, at temperatures as high as 60°C.

Standardized Flow Measurement

M=Q(Ts/Ta)(Pa/Ps)

Once the raw internal volumetric flow rate has been determined, the FP-25 references the raw internal volumetric flow readings to standard temperature and pressure conditions (STP). The FP-25 ships with a default STP of 25°C and 1 atm for standardized (mass) flow readings, which matches the US EPA’s standard. Since the FP-25 is a laminar flow device, additional measurements have to be incorporated to determine the actual standardized flow measurement. To determine the standardized mass flow rate (M), two correction factors must be applied to the volumetric flow rate (Q): the effects of temperature and absolute pressure on density.
Together, the conversion to mass flow can be written as:

Where:

Ts = Absolute temperature (°K) at standard conditions (STP) in Kelvin

Ta = Absolute temperature (°K) at flow conditions in Kelvin

Pa = Absolute pressure at flow conditions

Ps = Absolute pressure at standard conditions (STP)

In the Alicat FP-25, discrete absolute pressure and temperature sensors are placed in the laminar region of the flow stream. This information is sent to the microprocessor to make the appropriate calculations to determine standardized mass flow.

Actual volumetric flow using the external temperature probe

Once the standardized flow rate has been determined, the FP-25 device references the standardized flow readings to ambient temperature using the temperature probe, and to ambient pressure using the barometer. This actual volumetric flow rate reflects the actual volume of air that passes into the air sampler (at the local barometric pressure and at the probe temperature) per unit time. Whenever the FP-25 is displaying volumetric flow referenced to the temperature reading of the external probe, the word Probe will flash on the right side of the display, alternating with the relative humidity value. Actual volumetric flow always appears at the bottom left of the FP-25 screen in Standard Mode.

Technology that works for you

The Alicat FP-25 flow device was developed in coordination with air monitor technicians and has resulted in a durable, accurate and easy to use device. The FP-25 comes in a kit complete with all the equipment required to complete calibration of any EPA approved air monitor.See the Alicat FP25 Device here

Shruti Thakur, MS Applications Engineer | India Liaison
Shruti holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Technology. She specializes in process improvement and design for environmental engineering applications including water treatment, air quality, and EPA regulated interests.

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

The FP-25: Fast, Accurate, Reliable

by Shaina Shay

Alicat is proud to be part of the Halma family. Halma companies work to create a safer, cleaner, healthier future for everyone, every day. Alicat’s air monitoring products contribute to the environmental and public health component of this mission.

Saving the world, one calibration at a time

Our low-pressure drop Whisper mass flow meters are used by municipalities, cities, states, and countries to calibrate ambient air quality monitoring devices. Our mass flow meters are used to calibrate particulate monitoring (PM) machines, air sampling canisters, pesticide monitoring machines, and other analyzers. Calibration is important to ensure good data. Bad data can have political, legislative, and/or societal impacts. Because calibration takes time and skill, we worked with air quality technicians to specially design a product that is both compliant with the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and meet the demands of air quality technicians.

The FP-25: Fast, Accurate, Reliable

The FP-25 is a highly precise, NIST-traceable device that can measure mass flow to an accuracy of +/-1% of reading. To make calibration faster and safer, there is a Bluetooth function which allows technicians to complete calibration from a distance. The device itself is built to be used in the field and can withstand being dropped from rooftops.

Learning from our Future Leaders

Alicat has been engaged in the air monitoring market for years, but we had the opportunity to view the FP-25 from a fresh perspective when Halma’s Future Leader Program came to visit. The Future Leaders program is comprised of intelligent, driven, and enthusiastic recent graduates. To encourage well-rounded growth, participants are exposed to a range of business related trainings through the program.

On May 17th 2019, 15 future leaders came to Tucson, Arizona to participate in a marketing training day at Alicat.

In just one day, future leaders paired off to develop a marketing content. The young leaders learned about Alicat’s history, products, and culture in the morning, and then had the afternoon to come-up with a plan.

We were astonished

Two teams took on the environmental market and focused on developing content tailored for the FP-25 product. The results were one full blown campaign plan and this video about why customers love the FP-25.

The proof is in the pudding

At the end of this day we were so impressed with the results. We never expected that there would be time to develop useable content, but we were wrong. This experience validated the how Halma is making their mission come true, by investing in people and companies that make things happen.

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Using technology to reduce health and safety risks

 by Shaina Shay

Technological advancements have improved humans’ ability to monitor, assess, and protect societies from environmental health and safety hazards. When it comes to the air that we breathe, particulate matter (PM) monitoring machines are one piece of technology used to keep society safe by measuring the presence of potentially harmful particulates. The smaller the particulate in the air, the more likely that it can be absorbed into the body via the lungs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates industry and enforces compliance based on the readings of PM monitors (epa.gov). Air standards have been established to minimize human exposure to particulate matter that may have adverse health effects.

To understand exposure over space and time, a national network of PM monitors has been established. These PM monitors are located in a variety of places, ranging from national parks, to suburban parks, to the skyscrapers in city centers.

The accuracy of data acquired through this network is critical because it could have legal, political or social impacts. To ensure good data, the flow, pressure, and temperature of PM monitors are calibrated on a regular basis.

Air quality technicians climb roofs, visit remote locations, and endure inclement weather to complete calibrations and document data.

Climb ladders 50% less with Bluetooth connectivity

Alicat believes that technology should reduce health and safety risks as well as increasing efficiency. That’s why we worked with air quality technicians to develop the FP-25 Flow Meter. Our FP-25BT with Bluetooth features reduce the number of trips technicians to on ladders by 50%.

Bluetooth connectivity also reduces your exposure to severe weather conditions. Even when ambient temperatures drop or humidity increases, these instruments provide fast and accurate measurements. Rain or shine the FP-25 has you covered.

If you’re in an industry that has you measuring flow in adverse environmental conditions, let us know. We strive to help the people who are helping our communities breathe clean air.

Ready to find out how we can help ?

Contact one of our applications engineers at 1.888.290.6060 or info@alicat.com to discuss your application.

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Alicat Whisper Mass Flow Meters Lend Precision to Fiber Optic Process

by Ryan Barner

Fiber optic cables are highly desired for their speed of transmission and are growing as an industry. However, the industrial furnaces used for glass manufacturing require stable and repeatable control of gas for melt and annealing processes.

Preforms are the layered cylinders of glass, made on lathes using chemical deposition vapor flows, burners for heating and melting glass and pressure control to retain the shape while it is being formed. While the fiber drawing process means heating the end of a glass preform, and shaping the melting end into a cone that creates a continuous stream of molten glass which descends and cools into a fiber, which must then be guided in a way that will not break or alter it, while checking the thickness and adding layers to protect it.

Both require mass flow and pressure controllers that are fast, reliable and have high turndown ratios, all while functioning in potentially high temperature environments and compatibility with corrosive fuel gasses.

Industrial furnaces utilizing fuel gases for their burners exhibit low pressures.  Alicat Whisper series mass flow controllers offer a controllable range up to 1000 SLPM.  These flow rates can be achieved with a pressure drop across the Alicat MFC of as little as 1.65 PSI on our highest flow rate Whisper series controllers. This means even if the supply pressure is low, as fuel gases typically are, it is possible to control up to a full scale flow rate of 1000 SLPM.Alicat mass flow and pressure control instruments for glass and optical fiber manufacturing.

These low pressure instruments may also be deployed in annealing ovens and lehr ovens during the finishing process.  Using Alicat MFCs allow for control in each zone of the oven with repeatability and precision even if a low supply pressure is a requirement.  Ninety-eight gases and gas mixes are pre-programmed into an Alicat MFC providing options for variability in projects and processes.

Alicat MCW-series whisper mass flow controller, shown with optional backlit color display

In preform manufacturing, fiber drawing or ribbon forming processes – stable and fast mass flow and pressure control instruments not only ensure a better end product, but with Alicat devices, achieving these results is easier with our highly customized instruments and advice from Application Engineers.

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

ThermX

Industries Served
Our diverse temperature sensor product capabilities support a broad range of industries and applications. Several of our products can be applied into a variety of products or processes. Others are uniquely designed for a specific application. 

We can engineer a suitable temperature sensor into the most complex thermal heating and measurement requirement. Our technical expertise and production technologies, provide our design team with the flexibility to devise the most advanced sensing solutions, in the most practical configuration, and at the best value.

In addition to manufacturing temperature sensors, ThermX Southwest also distributes pressure, humidity, CO2 and flow sensors along with process control and data logging instrumentation. We also supply a wide variety of portable calibration equipment traceable to NIST. 
Industries served
Aerospace Pharmaceutical 
Semiconductor
Glass & Ceramics 
Metallurgical
Analytical Sciences
Material Sciences
Telecommunication
Power Generation 
Packaging Food & Beverage
Commercial Heating Medical
General Industrial 
Temperature Sensors
General Purpose Probes
High Temperature Thermocouples
Validation Thermocouples
Industrial Thermocouples
Insulated Wire Thermocouples
Thermocouple Rakes
RTD Probes
Thermistor Probes
Specialized Products
Thermocouple Wire
Calibration Services

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Acceleration-Compensated Inclinometers Now With New Interface Option

ACCELERATION-COMPENSATED INCLINOMETERS 
NOW WITH NEW INTERFACE OPTION

tiltix_aks_2

POSITAL FRABA has added a new communications interfaces for its innovative Dynamic TILTIX series – making it even easier to use these rugged instruments in mobile machinery and heavy commercial vehicles. Now available with either CANopen or SAE J1939 interfaces , these acceleration-compensated tilt sensors are able to deliver accurate measurement under the harshest operating conditions, including rapid motions, shock and vibration loadings.

  • Compensation of External Accelerations
  • Now Available with CANopen or SAE J1939
  • Clean Measurement During Dynamic Movements
  • Optional Output of Acceleration and Rate of Rotation
  • Well Protected up to IP69K
  • Compact and Robust Die-cast Housing with Integrated T-Coupler 
  • Wide Temperature Range from -40 to +85°C

Innovative Signal Processing Algorithms Reduce Signal Noise

The key to this remarkable dynamic performance is the addition of a second measurement system to the MEMS accelerometers used in conventional tilt sensors. An electromechanical gyroscope system was added to measure rate of rotational in the different axes. This eliminates the central shortcoming of conventional inclination sensors, where sudden accelerations or vibrations cause inertial loads in the accelerometers, adding noise to the output signals – and errors to the tilt angle readings. Signals from the accelerometer and gyroscope are combined by innovative algorithms to filter out the errors caused by acceleration loads so that the actual inclination is reported accurately. “What sounds so simple proved to be very time-consuming and labor-intensive in terms of practical implementation,” emphasizes Tobias Schubert, product manager responsible for POSITAL’s TILTIX inclination sensors. “We invested almost three years in the development of the algorithm alone. We worked extensively with pilot customers to assure ourselves that these instruments would work reliably under the harshest field conditions.”

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com

Alicat Python and Python-driven command prompt

 by Bill Nick

Setup

Alicat Python and Python-driven command prompt (Windows Powershell) drivers have been developed principally by Pat Fuller at NuMat Technologies and are available for download from github.com: https://github.com/numat/alicat

In order to run the command prompt/Powershell driver, Python will first have to be installed on the computer. The latest stable Python 3 release is the recommended version to install: https://www.python.org/downloads/

Once Python has been installed, the simplest way to install the python/command prompt drivers is to command the following in the command prompt:

If the Python PIP package manager is installed and enabled, this is a simpler method:

Command Prompt (Powershell) Usage:

A menu of possible arguments and usage information within the command prompt can be accessed by entering “alicat –help” or “alicat -h”:

To poll an Alicat that is the only one connected to your target COM port, commanding only the port name will return data from the Alicat:

To poll a device with unit ID A, your command should look like this:

and the response from either of these commands should look similar to this:

Python Usage:

This command will open a serial connection to an Alicat device on the specified port:

If the Alicat is communicating on the specified port, it will return the same dictionary as when polled via Powershell.

Using this with Windows COM port COM1, for example, would look like this:

D&D Engineering – “W’ere YOUR Sensor Guys”
3835 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite 464 Westlake Village, CA 91362  – Voice: (818) 772-8720 Fax: (818) 772-2477 Toll Free: (888) 333-6474
Email: sales@sensorguys.com Website: www.sensorguys.com