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Hot-Wire Anemometer Flow Detector Review

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Hot-Wire Anemometer Flow Detector Review.

The hot-wire anemometer, principally used in gas flow measurement, consists of an electrically heated, fine platinum wire which is immersed into the flow. As the fluid velocity increases, the rate of heat flow from the heated wire to the flow stream increases. Thus, a cooling effect on the wire electrode occurs, causing its electrical resistance to change. In a constant-current anemometer, the fluid velocity is determined from a measurement of the resulting change in wire resistance. In a constant-resistance anemometer, fluid velocity is determined from the current needed to maintain a constant wire temperature and, thus, the resistance constant.

Hot-wire devices can be classified as CCA (constant current anemometer), CVA (constant voltage anemometer) and CTA (constant-temperature anemometer). The voltage output from these anemometers is thus the result of some sort of circuit within the device trying to maintain the specific variable (current, voltage or temperature) constant, following Ohm's law.

Additionally, PWM (pulse-width modulation) anemometers are also used, wherein the velocity is inferred by the time length of a repeating pulse of current that brings the wire up to a specified resistance and then stops until a threshold "floor" is reached, at which time the pulse is sent again.

Hot-wire anemometers, while extremely delicate, have extremely high frequency-response and fine spatial resolution compared to other measurement methods, and as such are almost universally employed for the detailed study of turbulent flows, or any flow in which rapid velocity fluctuations are of interest.

An industrial version of the fine-wire anemometer is the thermal flow meter, which follows the same concept but uses two pins or stings to monitor the variation in temperature. The stings contain fine wires, but encasing the wires makes them much more durable and capable of accurately measuring air, gas, and emissions flow in pipes, ducts, and stacks. Industrial applications often contain dirt that will damage the classic hot-wire anemometer.

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