Novel Ultrasonic Flow Meter Technology Opens the Door To Exciting New Medical Applications

By: | September 21st, 2015

Titan Enterprises design and manufacture flow meters that deliver precise, reliable flow measurement solutions for a broad range of applications in market sectors including medical, industrial, food & drink, laboratory, and pharmaceutical.

Originally introduced in 2010, Titan’s innovative Atrato ultrasonic flow meter range, challenges conventional flow meter thinking and is leading to exciting new medical applications.

It all started when a well-known medical industry instrument supplier turned to Titan for a challenging application that required a low-flow meter with a wide dynamic flow range, good accuracy, and rapid response time.

Prior to Titan’s product development, nothing quite like what the medical instrument supplier was looking for even existed, let alone was capable of accurately measuring bolus quantities dispensed with a standard syringe.

To fit within the medical suppliers bolus injection instrument – Titan had to adapt their Atrato ultrasonic technology such that it would fit within a very compact space. As a first attempt, Titan wrapped their flow tube in a circle and shaped the tube to match the customer’s housing, believing this would get the job done. However, Titan soon realized as the business relationship evolved and non-disclosure agreements were exchanged, that what was actually required was not a wrapped up standard flow tube but something very different.

The flow meter needed to be simplified, which launched an entirely new development program that included re-writing the Atrato rule book and miniaturizing the components involved.

After a program of technological development, Titan was able to produce the same flow meter performance in a much simpler ultra compact package, which would be more suitable for a disposable meter.

From an interview with Titan Managing Director: Trevor Forster:

Background to the Atrato ‘Time of Flight’ Ultrasonic Technology

Time of flight technology is well established as being the most accurate ultrasonic method of measuring the fluid velocity in a conduit of known dimensions. By measuring the transit time with the direction of flow, the signal is travelling at the same speed as the fluid plus the speed of sound in the fluid. On the return ping, the speed of sound in the fluid is unchanged but the sound is having to pass through more fluid and therefore takes a little longer. Twice the speed of the fluid in fact – so half the difference in the upstream and downstream flight times is the velocity of the liquid. For larger pipes, multiple sensors and paths are used to integrate the flow across the whole pipe bore. With the Atrato technology, the entire velocity profile across the tube is integrated with single sensors making our technology largely immune from velocity profile and changes in Reynolds number, i.e. viscosity.

How will this unique ultrasonic technology open up new Medical Applications ?

Titan foresees that its new generation Atrato ultrasonic technology will be used more and more in medical applications due to the system’s clean bore and ease of sterilization. At the moment, Titan Atrato ultrasonic flow meter technology is being used in kidney dialysis, liquid chromatography in medical research, and was even considered to measure flow in a model of the human circulatory system.

The fact that this technology can be customized to suit clamp-on, disposable, or simply straight through flow meters, in addition to its lower flow rate and higher pressure capabilities, makes medical an ideal target market moving forward.

How would you describe Titan’s development philosophy ?

As you can see, Titan pushed the envelope when it came to developing a unique flow meter solution, but that’s merely one example of the company carrying out its product development philosophy.

Often to produce the optimum solution for a flow metering application requires you to set conventional wisdom to one side and be open to adopting new innovative ideas.

We were told we could not use sapphire on sapphire to create a durable flow meter bearing – as a result of this innovation Titan mini-turbines are probably the most reliable Pelton wheel meters on the market. We were told you could not injection mould parallel oval gears in bearing grade PEEK. I think we are the only company doing this resulting in our range of highly reliable, competitively priced oval gear flow meters. We were told you cannot make an ultrasonic meter with high accuracy for small bore pipes. The Atrato® is the market leader with this technology. We firmly believe that lateral thinking is the key to product development, and as our tag-line suggests, we are proud of that heritage.

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Marshall Smith

Technology, engineering, and design enthusiast.

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