Next Generation Energy Design Solutions

Patent Awarded for Entirely New Concept in Fluid Mass Flow Metering

A specialized sensor array in the Foss/Virskus mass flow meter converts mass flow into an electronic signal to determine the velocity of the fluid in the pipe.

The Foss/Virskus mass flow meter measures mass fluid flow of liquids and gasses in real time—without any rotating parts, orifices, or pressure-related devices.

Vytau K. Virskus, principal of Millenium Energy Company, and Dr. John Foss, professor emeritus of Michigan State University, are thrilled to announce this week that they have been awarded US patent no. 10,753,779 for a mass flow meter that measures water flow and energy use in heating/cooling systems.

“The meter consists of a critically designed array of flow sensors (top image) that respond to the kinetic forces acting upon them by the passing fluid. The meter’s novel geometry converts these forces to torques that are summed and converted to an electronic signal providing an accurate mass flow in the pipe,” explained Dr. Foss.

The real-time measurement of mass fluid flow of liquids and gasses in pipes and conduits is an important and often critical capability in innumerable commercial and industrial processes, including energy supply systems, municipal infrastructure, and others. Mass flow measurements have become particularly significant as the need to determine the thermal flow of heating and cooling fluids increases.

Foss/Virskus mass flow meter prototype
The new Foss/Virskus mass flow meter: a four-inch diameter prototype designed for flows from 100 to 400 GPM, though the meter is fully scalable from very large industrial applications to very small flows in fractional pipe or tubing sizes.

While flow meters currently on the market generally achieve their intended purpose, there has been a growing need for a new and improved device with greater accuracy, application flexibility, and durability.

The novel Foss/Virskus mass flow meter is designed to be completely scalable based on the diameter of the pipe or conduit. It is also bi-directional and has high accuracy for non-uniform flows. It can provide a relational output signal for partially filled pipes.

“Our design is revolutionary because it has no rotating parts, orifices, or pressure-related devices to measure mass flow, which makes it suitable for a wider variety of applications,” said Mr. Virskus.

The first four-inch prototype has been constructed and will soon undergo laboratory performance testing. Scaling down to very small medical applications and up to very large industrial flow measurements are under consideration.

John Foss and Vytau Virskus develop novel mass flow meter
Left to right: Dr. John Foss, professor emeritus of Michigan State University, and Vytau K. Virskus of Millenium Energy Company (a former student of Foss’s) worked together to develop a mass flow meter (US patent no. 10,753,779) that measures water flow and energy use in heating/cooling systems.

Dr. Foss received his BSME, MSME, and Ph.D. from Purdue University and has been a member of the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Michigan State University since 1964—Mr. Virskus was one of Dr. Foss’s students while pursuing his BSME at MSU. Dr. Foss’s research specialties include advanced topological flow analysis, complex flow measurements, and applied problems in turbulent flows. He served as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Program Director for Fluid Dynamics and Hydraulics (1998-2000), and is is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Physical Society and a member of the Society of Scholars of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a Chartered Physicist (CPhys) of the Institute of Physics (IOP), a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers for exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise and outstanding physics research. Dr. Foss holds seven (previous) patents related to fluid mechanics.

Mr. Virskus is the principal of Millenium Energy Company. He earned a BSME at MSU and JD at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He began his career in 1975 as the Environmental Systems Manager and Operations Engineer for MSU, responsible for the installation and development of a campus-wide building automation and energy management system that ultimately serves more than 20 million square feet. His experience includes the design of commercial building automation systems, development, and construction of numerous power generation and energy savings performance contract (ESPC) projects, and he has served as an energy management consultant for numerous industrial, institutional, and commercial clients. Mr. Virskus was previously awarded US patent no. 9,519,297 for Dynamic Differential Energy Control of Hydronic Heating or Cooling Systems (E~flow), a mathematical algorithm that uses instantaneous building energy demand as the primary control variable to manage heating or cooling energy supply to buildings in real time.

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e-flow hydronic pumping controls

Vytau K. Virskus Awarded Patent for On-Demand Hydronic Pumping Control System

E~flow is a mathematical algorithm that uses building energy demand as the primary control variable to slow down or speed up a hydronic pump through a variable speed control thereby increasing or decreasing volume flow. The E~flow control process is compatible with any off-the-shelf variable speed drive and has been proven to reduce energy cost by eliminating over-pumping, optimize instantaneous energy delivery to a system or load and minimize incremental electric and/or thermal energy waste.