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flow meters

Introduction to Clamp On Ultrasonic Flow Meters

Clamp on ultrasonic flow meters are a type of flow meter used in various industrial applications, including effluent flow monitoring. Read our guide to understand their uses, working methodology, benefits and limitations.

Case Study: Local Wastewater Plant Flume Size Testing

Flume Size Testing

The Client Needs 

A local wastewater plant client had concerns over the ability of their incumbent flow meter system to meet flow demands. The inlet was estimated at some 40+ years old and the profile of the local community that it served had changed considerably during this time. Greater levels of effluent now needed to pass through the inlet safely and be recorded accurately. There were identified concerns about existing measures in place to meet Flow Pass Forward and stormwater monitoring requirements. 

Testing Planning 

The originally-tested capacity of the flume was 45L per second, but the system now needed to be tested for flow of up to 64L per second to meet its potential demand.

Our team were tasked with testing the flume and flow monitoring system to ensure that it could cope with the increased demand and to check for multiple potential calibration risks – given the flume was now required to be utilised above its official design criteria. In particular we tested for:

  1. Poor flow control within the flume: Checking that turbulence did not increase above levels required for reliable metre readings and that the current system would be suitable for higher flows.
  2. Ensuring free flow discharge conditions: Checking and verifying that flow would not go into drown conditions under increased pressure, which would risk inaccurate readings and compromise the entire system. A flume reaches a drowned state when the flow out of the flume is restricted to the point where the free flow discharge equation is no longer valid, over-indicating the measured flow rate.

 

Flume Size Testing

Testing Completed 

Our testing equipment included 2 electromagnetic flow metres that we incorporated into the works to monitor flow capacity and rates. We also blocked off the storm overflow system as this is only to be used for discharge in genuine environmental cases.  We then tested the flume at varying flow rates, with the following outcomes:

 

  • In the video below we can see 50L per second flowing well and the final effluent is clean and slightly above the current normal
  • 69L per second again showed controlled conditions and was just above what the client processing requirements
  • We then increased the flow to 73L per second, at which point the effluent started to move into a drowned state
  • Finally, at 76L per second, we witnessed a definite drowned state

The Outcome

Using our expert teams, we were able to use accurate testing conditions, calibration expertise and appropriate equipment to allow for a high level of confidence in the ability of the inlet capacity to cope with the increased flow demands.

We were able to pass the flume as being suitable to cope with the increased flow while maintaining accuracy levels, meaning the inlet did not need to be replaced and we can continue to service and inspect as appropriate. 

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Wastewater Surveillance Increasingly Important in Monitoring Public Health

IS WASTEWATER SURVEILLANCE THE ANSWER TO PUBLIC HELATH MONITORING?

Wastewater surveillance has gained prominence across the world since its use during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also known as Wastewater-Based Epidemiology – (WBE for short), it can give fast and cost-effective insight into; the spread of infection diseases; emergence of new pathogens/variants; community drug use; and markers of antimicrobial resistance for local authorities and national governments and their public health planning.

 

There are clear wins in the use of wastewater surveillance, but its widespread adoption relies on investment in the required infrastructure, reporting systems and processes to make its data of real value, both at a local and an international level.

 

In this article we discuss the growth of wastewater surveillance, its applications & benefits and its potential for future use.

Wastewater surveillance

Introduction to Wastewater Surveillance

A simple yet effective method

Wastewater surveillance has existed for decades, with one of the first widely-reported uses of WBE being a project to understand the spread of polio led by team of scientists in the 1930s. It is typically used not only to monitor infectious pathogens, but also the use of pharmaceuticals (both prescribed and illicit) within local communities.

 

 

It works by analysing chemicals, pathogens and biomarkers that are shed through urine and faeces into public wastewater systems – using their concentrations to understand trends and patterns in any given population. Samples are taken from the wastewater flow before they are analysed and the associated data processed, interpreted and reported.

Wastewater Surveillance During Covid-19

An unexpected ally in the testing strategy

The Covid-19 pandemic ignited the use of wastewater monitoring across the world, with many countries using it to understand patterns and trends in the spread of the virus and some using WBE for the first time.  Some governments even introduced formal national wastewater surveillance systems.

 

As vaccinations led to more asymptomatic cases and testing schedules were loosened, WBE played an increasing role in ongoing tracking of virus levels in populations – giving consistent data in a way that did not rely on individual testing and even provided early warning indicators in advance of an outbreak.  It also allowed for early detection of new variants. 

 

The UK Health Security Agency announced early in 2023 that it would cease the weekly household Covid infection testing report, instead replacing it with “Wastewater-based epidemiology…likely to be of significant importance in the future, both domestically and internationally….exploring further opportunities for this technology.”

wastewater surveillance

Why Wastewater Surveillance?

A cost-effective solution with reliable and unbiased data.

The Covid-19 pandemic ignited the use of wastewater monitoring across the world, with many countries using it to understand patterns and trends in the spread of the virus and some using WBE for the first time.  Some governments even introduced formal national wastewater surveillance systems.

 

As vaccinations led to more asymptomatic cases and testing schedules were loosened, WBE played an increasing role in ongoing tracking of virus levels in populations – giving consistent data in a way that did not rely on individual testing and even provided early warning indicators in advance of an outbreak.  It also allowed for early detection of new variants. 

 

The UK Health Security Agency announced early in 2023 that it would cease the weekly household Covid infection testing report, instead replacing it with “Wastewater-based epidemiology…likely to be of significant importance in the future, both domestically and internationally….exploring further opportunities for this technology.”

Costs

The cost of testing individuals can be extremely costly. During the pandemic, the UK government spent almost 30bn on the Test & Trace scheme. Wastewater surveillance, by comparison, is extremely cost effective, allowing more reliable and consistent testing of a whole population at one time.   

Non-Invasive

Wastewater can be sampled anonymously and without any reliance on human interaction.  This not only removes the barrier of perceived stigma from data subjects, but also means multiple people can be tested simultaneously without any effort on their part. 

Unbiased

Individual testing relies on the consent of data subjects, which can cause bias in not only the selection of people, but also the analysis of conjunctive health-related data of the subjects.  Wastewater epidemiology, by contrast, is an unbiased testing method, with no individual data available.  

Quickness

The sheer ability to sample and analyse multiple subjects (sometimes up to hundreds of thousands) through one test, rather than individual ones, drastically reduces the required resources and processing time involved to collate widespread data.  Its ability to detect pathogens even when subjects are asymptomatic means it is faster at identifying outbreaks, and data outputs can be quickly connected to alert systems for those responsible for acting.

Reliable Data

Relying on individuals to carry out and report on individual tests leaves the data open to inaccuracy.  Wastewater surveillance is set up and processed by expert teams, who understand their field and the importance of data controls.  WBE is also able to give more detailed data than some traditional monitoring methods.  For example, monitoring the consumption of prescribed drugs through prescription levels does not take into account those drugs that are not consumed.  Conversely, WBE only measures the metabolites of those drugs that have actually been taken.

Uses of Wastewater Surveillance

A flexible option for public health monitoring

WBE is increasingly being seen as a cost-effective way of gathering reliable data and and there are active efforts across the globe to increase its use in public health tracking while exploring further opportunities for the sharing of data on a national and international scale. 

 

Some of its growing uses include:

 

1. Tracking infectious diseases and outbreaks

Much as with the Covid-19 pandemic, many other disease levels can be tracked through wastewater surveillance.  Any virus/bacterial infection where pathogens are reliably shed through urine and/or faeces can generate the necessary biomarkers to be sampled.  

 

This is important not only for new outbreaks, but also for new variants of existing pandemics and diseases – as well as to see how a particular outbreak is spreading.  By tracking not only the presence but also the concentration of the shed load, data on the severity of an outbreak can be generated.  Diseases such as polio, covid, measles, hepatitis and norovirus have all been successfully monitored through wastewater surveillance.  In 2021, India set up a wastewater surveillance system to detect cases of Mpox and influenza for example.  In the US, some aviation companies are already collaborating to test the sewage generated on flights, in an effort to understand how this could be used to monitor and restrict international spread of diseases.

 

Some work is still to be done in validating the reliability of all WBE for this purpose, but it is certainly proving a useful tool for many governments. 

2. Illicit drug consumption

Many drugs generate metabolites when being processed by the human body, which are then shed in urine/faeces.  Alcohol, nicotine, meth, amphetamine, cocaine and many more non-prescribed drugs give off reliable biomarkers following metabolism.  The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs & Addiction has a fascinating geographical chart to show usage across the EU https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/html/pods/waste-water-analysis_en.  Reasons for tracking illicit drug consumption include; planning for public health spend; using the insight to build public health campaigns; cross-referencing the data with other sources (e.g. fatal overdoses); and feeding into law enforcement agencies to identify where and when drugs are entering society. 

3. Prescribed drugs consumption

WBE can be used to track discrepancies in the levels of prescribed drugs vs. levels of the drugs actually taken.  Many people do not finish courses/discard drugs/sell them on/access them from illegal sources – merely looking at prescription data is not always reliable in giving a picture of how populations are using drugs.  Again, much as with illegal drugs, this data can help inform public health campaigns (e.g. finish your antibiotics course) and target areas of misuse – in particular prescription drugs being sourced from non-regulated suppliers. 

 

The concentration levels of drugs can also give a picture into the prevalence of illnesses/conditions within local populations. For example WBE has been used to track levels of erectile disfunction in local populations through metabolites of Viagra active ingredients and the rising trend in weight loss drugs is also being monitored in some countries – all drug types that carry stigma and may force people to seek illegal supply.     

4. Detection of AMR

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) happens when bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi mutate enough that they are no longer treatable with existing medicines.  This makes them much harder to treat and poses a real risk to society.   WBE can detect the presence of using metagenomic techniques to track resistomes in AM genes and give data on their prevalence, type and spread.

  

5. Understanding Impact of Hazardous Substances

Wastewater monitoring for hazardous and toxic materials is already widespread – being used by regulating authorities such as the Environment Agency to check that water companies and industrial operators are not polluting waters.  This type of monitoring can also be used to track levels of hazardous substances such as plastics, pesticides and chemicals that have been ingested by humans.  It can then be used in this way to measure the public exposure to potentially harmful substances – even with large-scale leaks during negative industrial events (e.g. nuclear waste/chemical spills).  The data can then be correlated to incidences of illnesses and conditions that could be linked to public exposure to these hazardous substances. 

Future of Wastewater Surveillance

A developing opportunity

The opportunity for use of wastewater surveillance in public health monitoring and planning is clear –  across a range of applications. Future disease outbreaks, drug consumption trends and levels of exposure of communities to hazardous substances and bacteria all hold the potential to be tracked through WBE. Its quick assimilation of data on large numbers of subjects makes it a cost-effective and speedy option for many countries going forward. 

 

Key to adoption and ongoing success is the level of investment in collaborative, comprehensive reporting systems and the required R&D and expertise to tackle any current concerns around unreliability of data. Automation, AI and robotics may all play their part in moving forward the opportunity for wastewater surveillance to create a sustainable model of WBE that can be adopted on an international scale. 

 

Until then ongoing individual projects and concept testing will continue to give insight into the costs and benefits of how it could be best used going forward.  Since Covid-19, the world has had a glimpse into the opportunities that WBE presents and an ongoing curiosity will drive forward further understanding of the purposes for which it could be used. Whether as part of wider surveillance strategies, or as a stand-alone methodology, we’re sure wastewater surveillance will be here to stay.

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CASE STUDY: INLINE SAMPLER INSTALLATION

The Client Needs

Our brewery client had expressed an interested in developing their existing flow water monitoring system into a more comprehensive solution – including a potential sampler.

Work Completed

We carried out a site analysis of client requirements and suitability for the addition of a wastewater sampler within their final solution.

 
After identifying a suitable product and location we were able to specify, design and install an in-line sampler  suitable for their needs.

 

All testing and verification was completed on the final installation by our expert projects team. 

 

 

The Outcome

Our client is satisfied with their solution and now able to extract event more data about their wastewater to feed into their business information systems.

Product Shot

Product Shot

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CASE STUDY: FLOW SYSTEMS INSTALLED IN FOOD FACTORY

CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY: FLOW SYSTEMS INSTALLED IN FOOD FACTORY

The Client Needs

Our food factory client required two new flow system installations for their site in South West England.

Work Completed

The first install was for a full new flow system, comprising of:

 

– Flow meter

– Ultrasonic transducer and bracket

– A new primary device of a rectangular weir on a SIRIS carrier board (suitable for flows up to 50 l/s

 

The second install was also for a flow system as per the above specification but did not require a new primary device as the current one met MCERTS standards.

 

 

 

The Outcome

The client now has confidence in a system that will not only meet their internal reporting and monitoring needs but will also ensure they meet compliance standards for MCERTS inspections and any associated audits.

Before

After

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FLUMES IN FOCUS

PRODUCTS FOCUS

FLUMES IN FOCUS FOR SIRIS

At SIRIS we are driven by innovation and continuous improvement in our products and processes.  Flumes are no exception, with this component being an integral part of the SIRIS product portfolio and many flow monitoring system solutions. 

 

 

Flume Innovations

Our team has been listening hard to the ongoing needs of clients and modern-day flume requirements and we have consequently implemented two innovations to our range of flumes.

A New, Deeper Flume Option

During a routine post-installation verification check, one of our experienced project engineers quickly identified issues within this flow meter installation. It rapidly became apparent that the third-party contractor had not installed the meter correctly, meaning that incorrect measurements were pulling through to the data feed.

Our engineer was able to recognise that the Sensorprom (the part of the flow meter sensor that carries the unit calibration value) had not been installed correctly and had defaulted to factory settings. This included the incorrect bore size, the calibration (cal) factor and the excitation value.

During our initial response our engineer was able to adjust and reset the flow meter to the unique original Sensorprom characteristics. On adjustment the meter significantly changed its flow reading and this was checked against a secondary time of flight reference.

 

 

Boxed Flumes

We now offer our flumes in protective boxed packaging. This means that they are better protected against damage and the elements, as well as being kept secure during transit. 

 

The hardwearing purpose-built boxes protect the flumes against knocks and scratches and even have a built-in tarpaulin to allow safe storage on site in wet weather conditions.

 

Our SIRIS boxed flumes are available in a range of sizes and are in stock for immediate delivery.

 

We are encouraging our customers to return the boxes to SIRIS to be re-used and help reduce our environmental footprint. Instructions explaining how to arrange the return of the box are included in all shipments.

Lee, Project Engineer

We are always seeking to innovate and respond to our client needs.  These two new additions to our flumes range allow us to further improve our service offering to the market.  We are proud of our team here – there is a natural curiosity to investigate possible solutions and find new answers to existing challenges.  This is what helps us to stay at the forefront of our industry.”

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CASE STUDY: FLOW METER RECALIBRATION

CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY: FLOW METER RECALIBRATION

An end user client was experiencing issues with data accuracy after the installation of a flow meter by a third-party contractor. Our team was able to swiftly identify and adjust set-up to ensure the data they received was correct.

The Client Needs

It was identified that an end user dairy producer was experiencing issues with accuracy of data outputs from their newly-installed electromagnetic flow meter.  It was important that the cause was identified and rectified so that their data was correct, particularly as this was used for charging purposes. 

Our Response

During a routine post-installation verification check, one of our experienced project engineers quickly identified issues within this flow meter installation. It rapidly became apparent that the third-party contractor had not installed the meter correctly, meaning that incorrect measurements were pulling through to the data feed.

Our engineer was able to recognise that the Sensorprom (the part of the flow meter sensor that carries the unit calibration value) had not been installed correctly and had defaulted to factory settings. This included the incorrect bore size, the calibration (cal) factor and the excitation value.

During our initial response our engineer was able to adjust and reset the flow meter to the unique original Sensorprom characteristics. On adjustment the meter significantly changed its flow reading and this was checked against a secondary time of flight reference.

 

 

The Outcome

The end user now has confidence that their flow data being recorded and subsequently billed against is correct.

Lee, Project Engineer

“It is critical that any flow meter installation is carried out in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations and industry best practice, and that an independent verification process takes place. Flow monitoring systems are complex and in the case of electromagnetic flow meters there are often issues that would only be obvious to an experienced user. We would advise any end users using contractors to carry out appropriate due diligence on the experience and knowledge of a potential flow monitoring system installer. We are always here to provide advice and support.”

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CASE STUDY: CHEMICAL INGREDIENTS MANUFACTURER TRADE EFFLUENT MONITORING SYSTEM

CASE STUDY

TRADE EFFLUENT MONITORING SYSTEM

Requirements

Our client, a chemical ingredients manufacturer, recently required a trade effluent flow & monitoring system in order to comply fully with regulatory discharge requirements.

Specification & Installation

To specify the correct system our team confirmed detailed information unique to the site. This included land layout and location, flow volumes and discharge limits, the nature of discharge and upstream hydraulic levels. This information is critical and helps ensure the “correct” system is specified in the first instance.

Our from-scratch solution included:

 

• Full flow monitoring system comprising: small weir tank with 28º4′ V-Notch thin plate weir and ultrasonic open channel flow meter


• Partech 7300w2 ph and temperature monitor


• Point orange cloud-based data logger


• SIRIS 4-bottle vacuum sampler

 

Production is now complete and the entire system is ready to ship to the customer. Once installed on site by the client, SIRIS engineers can attend to check the calibration and ensure everything is operating correctly. This would include site calibration of all the instrumentation.

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