Honors Gallery

Balanced flow meter

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2010

Award Type:

Region: Southeast

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

The balanced flow meter is a unique, multihole orifice plate that determines the fluid flow rate in piping, channel, and conduit systems. It provides highly accurate flow metering, flow limiting, or flow conditioning in any fluid flow system. The balanced flow meter’s design provides ten times the accuracy of standard orificebased fluid flow meters, resulting in significant cost-savings to industries such as gas and oil refineries. The technology also has none of the moving parts that are in other metering systems, making it more reliable, less likely to malfunction, and less expensive to manufacture. Other significant benefits include considerable noise reduction and an ability to be used in different systems without modifying the hardware.

This patented technology was transferred by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to Quality Monitoring and Control (QMC) of Kingwood, Texas. QMC participated in testing and evaluation while under contract to MSFC, often utilizing its Compressed Air Gas Flow Facility. The company developed the commercialization plan, licensed the technology from MSFC, ultimately created A+FlowTek to commercialize the devices, and has marketed and sold the product globally.

The transfer of the balanced flow meter technology has proven successful. Users of the NASA innovation are experiencing ten-fold accuracy and dramatic cost savings due to decreased energy consumption. This lower energy consumption is also reducing the pollution produced by the many plants and industries that have applied the balanced flow meter. Sales have been made across the U.S., and in countries such as Venezuela, Chile, Saudi Arabia, and China. Using its first-year measured savings, one chemical company has projected a three-year life-cycle cost savings of $5.4 million—all for an initial investment of only $5,000!

With the development of the balanced flow meter, MSFC has either established new or expanded existing relationships with a wide variety of entities, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Navy, Texas A&M University, and private companies such as XCOR Aerospace, Aerojet, and Trilogy Pools.