Computational Fluid Dynamics as an Engineering Tool for Laminar Flow Element Mass Flow Controller Design

Gerardo M. Imbrioscia, Axel Larreteguy, Pablo Pantaleo Demalde, Maria J. Lavorante


In order to provide an accurate gas flow rate value to a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell, a Poiseuille Gas Flowmeter (PGF) was designed and validated through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. The device is based on the inclusion of a Laminar Flow Element (LFE), aimed at forcing the incoming flow into a laminar flow by using different geometric arrangements, like calibrated small diameter pipes or thin parallel planar ducts. Once laminar flow is achieved, the Poiseuille equation for the corresponding shape can be used to calculate the mass flow rate based on differential pressure measurements. The open source CFD tool OpenFOAM(R) was used to adjust and validate different design parameters in order to obtain a feasible and cost effective device.

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