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Fluid Flow Metering and Mixing Technologies

A widely applicable suite of technologies with optimized capabilities for fluid metering, mixing, and conditioning

Innovators at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a suite of prototype fluid plug technologies with an array of capabilities for fluid flow metering, mixing, and conditioning. Each innovation within this suite is based on a core technology that has no moving parts, is simple to manufacture, and provides high reliability and efficiency. The base fluid plug technology can be modified with very few or no hardware changes to achieve the desired effect or combination of mixing, metering, and conditioning capabilities, depending on the application.

The suite of innovations includes:

  • Fluid-mixing plug with metering capabilities
  • Unbalanced-flow, fluid-mixing plug with metering capabilities
  • Flow meter plug with length-to-hole size uniformity
  • Eddy current-minimized flow plug for use in flow conditioning and flow metering
  • Flow-rate throttling and measurement valve with integrated turbulence control
  • Pressure-equalized flow meter and conditioner

These technologies are appropriate for a wide range of fluid flow applications, from straight to bent pipe, in industries ranging from chemical processing and manufacturing to mining and liquid fuel engines.

If you would like more information or want to pursue transfer of this technology, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Research Center
http://technology-msfc.ndc.nasa.gov




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Benefits

The following matrix can help you determine which version of the technology best meets your needs for a specific application.

Current Title

Fluid-Mixing Plug with Metering Capabilities

Unbalanced Flow, Fluid-Mixing Plug with Metering Capabilities

Flow Meter Plug with Length-to-Hole Size Uniformity

Eddy Current-Minimized Flow Plug for use in Flow Conditioning and Flow Metering

Flow-Rate Throttling and Measurement Valve with Integrated Turbulence Control

Pressure-Equalized Flow Meter and Conditioner

Marshall Technology
Case Number

MFS-32005-1

MFS-32733-1

MFS-32748-1

MFS-32761-1

MFS-32171-1

MFS-32185-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary Function

Flow meter

 

 

X

X

 

 

Mixer

X

X

 

 

 

 

Valve

 

 

 

 

X

 

Flow conditioner

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secondary Functions

Flow meter (differential pressure)

X

X

 

 

X

X

Mixer

 

 

X

X

 

 

Conditioner

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suitable Location

Straight pipe

X

X

X

X

X

X

Bends/elbows/tees

 

X

X

X

 

 

Near pumps

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suitable Media

Fluid

X

X

X

X

X

X

Gas

X

X

X

X

X

 

Mixed phase

X

X

 

 

 

 

Slurries

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capabilities/Advantages

Efficient

X

 

X

X

X

X

Economical

 

X

X

X

X

X

Superior accuracy

 

 

X

X

 

 

Improved mixing

X

X

 

 

 

 

Mixing and metering in a single device

X

X

X

X

 

 

Conditioning and metering in a single device

 

 

X

X

X

 

Flow throttling and metering in a single device

 

 

 

 

X

 

Flexible form factor

X

X

X

X

 

 

Reliable

X

X

X

X

 

X

Robust

X

X

X

X

X

 

Mixer (or conditioner) requires no power

X

X

X

X

 

X

Suitable for tortuous flow configurations

 

X

X

X

 

 

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Applications

  • Chemical processing facilities
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Ground test facilities
  • Industrial processing
  • Petro-chemical processing
  • Mechanical operations
  • Mining
  • Water analysis
  • Liquid rocket engines
  • Space propulsion
  • Combustion nozzles
  • Spray nozzles
  • Variable orifice steam jets
  • Venturi applications
  • Density measurements
  • Flow conditioners
  • Compressor and pump inlets
  • Near pipe bends, tees, elbows
 

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Technology Details


How it works

The innovations included in this technology suite are variations of the same base technology, which typically consists of a fluid plate or plug of varying thickness. The device is simple to install and can be mounted between two flanges in a fluid-flow conduit, or it can be threaded or welded into the conduit. In some curved pipe applications, the device can be integrated into a pipe fitting, bend, elbow, or tee.

The face of the plug features several openings through which fluid flows. The orientation and position of these openings varies, depending on the needs of a specific application. The design balances fluid flow and kinetic energy across the plug face to create a desired flow effect. The device can smooth the fluid flow for superior conditioning, decrease turbulence for highly accurate metering, or increase turbulence to enhance fluid mixing. For example, discrete openings parallel to the fluid flow will decrease turbulence for accurate metering and conditioning. Other shapes of fluid openings can be introduced to change flow velocity or energy.

Whether flow mixing or conditioning is the goal, the device can be outfitted with flow pressure and temperature sensors to measure flow rate and other parameters of interest. However, the accuracy of flow rate measurements will be far greater in flow conditioning applications. In applications where fluid mixing is the primary goal, flow rate measurements typically are not as accurate because the mixing is dependent on increased fluid turbulence. For specialized applications, the device can be designed to include a radial port for injection of one or more fluids or slurries into the flow conduit, to induce mixing.


Why it is better

The base for Marshall’s suite of flow metering, mixing, and conditioning technologies is a unique innovation that offers improved performance in a wide range of applications. It is the only small, easy-to-install device of its kind that provides the ability to control turbulence, improve metering accuracy, or encourage thorough mixing. The innovation also facilitates rapid recovery of fluid pressure, helping to decrease power requirements and their associated costs.

In addition, unlike many conventional technologies, the suite of flow metering, mixing, and conditioning technologies has no moving parts and is minimally intrusive. Moving parts or tubes employed by other technologies can protrude into the flow, break off, and cause damage to equipment located downstream. Some other flow measurement technologies necessitate expensive hardware modifications for Doppler or optical applications that require windows installed into the pipes, and many require complicated design modifications to perform additional functions, such as mixing and conditioning. In comparison, the multi-channel flow plug offers a highly efficient means of balancing flow for metering, mixing, and conditioning in a single device, one that is minimally invasive and requires few hardware modifications to serve a wide variety of applications.


Patents

Marshall has received patent protection for MFS-32733-1 (U.S. Patent No. 7,621,670 (link opens new browser window)) and is seeking patent protection for MFS-32748-1 and MFS-32761-1.

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Commercial Opportunity

These technologies are part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to inquire about the licensing possibilities for Marshall’s flow metering, mixing, and conditioning technologies (MFS-32748-1, MFS-32005-1, MFS-32733-1, MFS-32761-1, MFS-32185-1, and MFS-32171-1) for commercial applications.

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For More Information

If you would like more information or want to pursue transfer of this technology, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Research Center
http://technology-msfc.ndc.nasa.gov

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This technology is owned by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Research Center
MFS-32748 (MS-0017)