Currently heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are difficult and costly to monitor for energy efficiency performance and reliability. As buildings evolve, they will require higher levels of insulation and air tightness which will require ventilation systems to provide the minimum number of air changes and reduced energy usage by recovering heat from the air before it is expelled. This will necessitate the need for monitoring of the operating performance of these systems so that air quality or building energy efficiency is not detrimentally affected. A typical duct airflow monitoring device uses a pressure differential method to determine the airflow rate but they are fragile, expensive and create an additional pressure loss. The monitoring of airflow rates can indicate problems in the design, installation and operation of a HVAC system. One of the possible alternatives to using pressure differential type devices such as Pitot tube/arrays, orifice plates and Venturis is to use an ultrasonic flow rate sensor, but historically their high cost has restricted their use in HVAC systems. This project has looked at improving on existing measuring systems by developing an ultrasonic in-duct flowmeter system to measure the mean airflow, temperature and humidity of a ventilation duct so that a comparative energy level can be accurately deduced. A proof of concept in-duct ultrasonic airflow monitoring device has been developed and has obtained results within ±3.5% RMS of a Venturi airflow measuring device. Matlab code for a Monte Carlo acoustic ray/particle tracing ultrasonic flowmeter simulation has been developed to study the effects of non-ideal installation scenarios. The fully developed centreline computational fluid dynamics (CFD) mean flow velocity to duct total mean flow velocity error can be up to 13%. Analysis of the CFD data for various duct scenarios has shown that this could be reduced to below 5% by using a transducer offset of approximately ±0.25 duct diameters or widths from the centreline at distances as close as one duct hydraulic diameter from an upstream disturbance, such as caused by a bend.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - Sep 2015|