A Study in Surpassing Expectations

Our first 5000 slpm controller delivery sets new top flow rate

mass flow controller: 5000 liter

Mass flow controller for 5000 standard liters per minute gas control.

In mechanical engineering, running into a point of diminishing returns is a fact of life. Pushing a system to do more, faster eventually starts to pile up limiting issues—for us: turbulence, power demands, even mass. They start affecting speed, precision and performance. We found we were able to boost rates, up to a point, and meet our own standards: to 4000 slpm for gas meters, and to 3000 slpm for mass controllers. But with our reputation as “the fastest flow controller company in the world”, when a customer asked for a 5000 slpm controller, no one was interested in half measures.

First, a high volume meter

Entry port

Starting with our core differential pressure sensor technology, we designed a new laminar flow geometry to accommodate higher flow rate while reducing the turbulence and stability issues we encountered when just adding elements to our standard configuration. The result is a 5K slpm meter with a fairly low pressure drop—just 3.4 psi* at full scale flow. With greater stability, we expect the meter to be more effective in variable environments. So it should perform, not just in metering incoming gas streams, but within industrial process controls where more chaotic upstream fluctuations, lower pressures and higher velocities can be expected.

High volume control

To provide flow control, we knew that our super-fast, nearly frictionless Rolamite valves would be ideal. By using an existing valve, we had a known performance profile, which helped assure the customer’s satisfaction. But, as the valve canister got larger, we weren’t happy with the high amperage needed to rapidly snap such a big valve open and shut. So we decided to divide and conquer. The solution was to use two 2” valves, coupled together in a parallel manifold configuration.

Still versatile

mass flow controller for 5000 slpm gas flow

5000 standard liter per minute mass flow controller

The controller, custom built for a particular customer, retains Alicat’s famous programmability for dozens of different gases. With its throughput and robustness, it could be used for controlling oxygen or fuel gases in an industrial combustion process. As a meter (without the valve), it could be used for monitoring total gas consumption—say, Nitrogen (N2)—in manufacturing facilities.

Take away lessons

As you’d expect from an Alicat mass flow controller, the instrument has high precision, high turndown ratios, rapid response time, and both an onboard display and remote communications. More, though, is that this example shows that you can bring special requests to us. Chances are, we’ve got some good ideas just waiting to accommodate your new application.

*Pressure drop is measured flowing to standard air pressure.

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