Chris King
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Many students applied, but only one could be selected. Bronkhorst USA is excited to be lending some financial support to a future scientist.

Congratulations to Jacob Davis, a graduate student in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia! The research Jacob will be undertaking, under the guidance of Dr. Brandon Rotavera, focuses on analyzing functional groups and conformational changes of different biofuels throughout low-temperature combustion reactions. This information will have many different applications throughout the scientific community including helping automotive engineers develop better engines, and atmospheric scientists combat global warming.

BronkU.com is built for future scientists and researchers at universities across the country. It’s about inspiring new ideas and furthering important research through resources including:

  • “Ask an Engineer” access to Bronkhorst USA experts
  • “Good to Know” mass flow topics and active discussions for researchers
  • $500 STUDENT GRANT APPLICATION

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Make your own brilliant discovery of how BronkU.com may be able to help you or someone you know.

Chris King
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Besides the fact that Bronkhorst is using 3D-printing for our own product and process development (3-D printing blog), it also goes the other way around. Mass flow controllers are used inside 3D-printers.

In this blog we will share with you the 3D-printing application of the Bronkhorst® customer SLM Solutions Group AG, a machine builder of 3D-printing machines.

Selective laser melting

3D-printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technique where products are made by building a product layer by layer. This is the opposite of machining operations such as drilling or milling, where pieces of materials are removed to yield the product.

Selective laser melting (SLM) is a 3D-printing technique where a layer of powder is deposited, after which a part of these powder particles is selectively melted together by means of laser heat. SLM Solutions Group AG is a machine builder who makes 3D-printing machines that print metal parts out of steel, aluminum, or titanium powder using selective laser melting. Their customers are in the fields of aerospace, automotive, and medicine & dental. High purity inert gases are necessary around the metal powder bed within the 3D-printer. Bronkhorst was able to help SLM Solutions Group AG with a suitable system to generate nitrogen shielding gas.

Application requirements

To prevent the metal from oxidation during the laser melting, it is essential to have an oxygen-free atmosphere around the to-be-melted metal powder particles. To that end, an inert shielding gas has to be applied: argon gas for steel and titanium, and nitrogen gas for alumium.

Selected solution

For the end user of SLM's 3D-printing machine, there are two ways to establish a nitrogen atmosphere: either from the in-house nitrogen supply mains - if present - or from a nitrogen generator, which is an accessory to the 3D-printer. In the latter option, Bronkhorst becomes involved. Pressurized air from a compressed air supply or a compressor is supplied to the nitrogen generator, and its molecular sieve separates the air flow into two flows. Constituents such as oxygen, water vapor, and argon are removed and nitrogen with high purity (grade 5.0) remains.

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Downstream of the generator, a Bronkhorst MASS-STREAM™ D-6300 mass flow controller is installed to control the nitrogen flow to the 3D-printer. This controller works in two operating modes. Prior to the printing process, the 3D-printer has to be flushed in order to establish the shielding gas atmosphere. To this end a high nitrogen flow of 60 to 90 liters per minute is necessary. Next, during the printing process itself, a small nitrogen flow of 3 to 10 liters per minute has to be supplied for refreshing purposes and to compensate for leakage. One in every ten to twenty 3D-printers sold by SLM Solutions Group AG is equipped with such a nitrogen generator and involves a Bronkhorst mass flow controller.

Read the Application Note.

Nicolaus Dirscherl
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Among various flow measurement techniques the thermal mass flow measurement based on the CTA principle is used for both gases and liquids. ‘CTA’ is the abbreviation of Constant Temperature Anemometry, which is also named ‘direct through-flow measurement’ or ‘inline measurement’. Mass flow meters based on the CTA principle cover a wide range of measurement and control applications in almost every industry sector. Examples of applications are burner control, aeration processes, gas consumption measurement, leak rate tests and environmental air sampling at atmospheric conditions. Within the Bronkhorst® portfolio, these reasonably priced flow meters enlarge the scope of mass flow measurement solutions for higher flow rates, for low pressure requirements, and for conditions within an application and/or local work environment that would be unsuitable for another measurement principle such as Thermal by-pass.

Top 5 key reasons to use flow meters and controllers based on the CTA principle:

  • It is the preferred thermal measurement solution for high flow rates of gasses, where the technical efforts of a thermal by-pass measurement with capillary sensor and laminar flow element are exceeded. The inline CTA measurement is available from a few ml/min up to hundreds of thousands of m3/h and more.
  • Compared to traditional thermal MFMs and MFCs with by-pass, the construction of the direct measuring CTA devices is less sensitive to humidity and contamination.
  • The compact and robust instrument design provides continuous mass flow measurement with an excellent repeatability. It is extremely versatile and is used within many different industries and applications.
  • This CTA concept makes it possible to build and to calibrate an instrument with Air or Nitrogen and to then model it for almost any other gas or gas-mix.
  • The pressure loss over the instruments is almost comparable to a straight length pipe and is thus usually negligible.

The working principle

The CTA sensor consists of two probes, the first being a heater and the second being a temperature sensor. A constant temperature difference is created between the probes. Regardless of actual flow-rate CTA is aiming to keep this delta-T or temperature difference between both sensor pins at a constant level. The flow rate and the heater energy required to maintain this constant delta-T are proportional and thus indicate the mass flow of the gas. The actual mass flow rate is calculated by measuring the variable power required to maintain this constant temperature difference as the gas flows across the sensor.

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See the Video

Arjan Bikkel
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At Bronkhorst® we’ve experienced an increase in the demand for skids: a customized system that consists of various types of instruments such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator. In this blog post we explain why we think that there is a correlation between an increasing demand for skids and the ability to compete in competitive industries.

Europe’s Solution Factories

We were triggered by a publication in the Havard Business Review by S.E. Chick, A. Huchzermeier, S.Netessine and others which analyzed applications from European manufacturing which deem themselves “excellent” in manufacturing and won Industrial Excellence Awards. It is remarkable that despite the fact that Europe has some of the world’s most stringent regulations regarding the use of labor, facilities, and equipment and relatively high labor cost, the factories that have won an Industial Excellence award have all prospered in highly competitive industries.

The four distinquishing factors as described in the article which made the winning European manufacturers succesfull: • They leverage data flows to integrate closely with their supply chain partners. • They optimize customer value across the whole chain, not just their part of it. • They harness their technical capabilities to offer a high degree of product customization for their customers • They cooperate with suppliers to rapidly improve their manufacturing processes.

In short- the winning manufacturing companies work with partners to manufacture solutions for other partners. It is a privilige of Bronkhorst to work closely together with our customers to design smart customized designs which support them with their specific needs. A skid is a customized system based on a standard concept. Customization of standard concept by leveraging the experience and knowhow of our customers and us as low flow experts seems to be an attractive offering for many winning companies in the industry for several reasons. We would like to share with you why we believe customers partner with us to create their own skid.

The four reasons why customized skids are popular

1. Focus on core business Companies are increasingly focusing on their core activities. They expect from a supplier to deliver complete solutions instead of only individual instruments. We engineer the skid together with our customers and deliver a solution in which all relevant instruments and accessories have been integrated. The ‘solutions approach’ is explained in more detail in this video.

2. Purchase at one supplier On a skid we can integrate flow meters (thermal or coriolis), an evaporator, RH sensors, pressure indicators, pumps, liquid vessels and other third party instrumentation. All internal tubing in the skid will be assembled by Bronkhorst. This way, customers can purchase a complete solution at one supplier instead of individual instrumentation at multiple suppliers. The skid will be pre-tested and ready for use by the customer. Besides, the skid is pressure and leak tested and will be delivered including instruction manual. A bonus is that our skids are based on standard proven platforms which make the time to market meet the expectations of our customers.

3. Customized design Customized products, support and after-sales services support customers to distinquish themselves in a competitive market. All skids are designed customer specific. Even if the customer needs only one skid, we offer a solution. Besides, we offer support and after-sales services that fit with the needs of every individual customer.

4. Compact design The miniaturization trend is observed in many places. Small components need fewer quantities of raw materials, in production as well as in (chemicals) use. Customers of high-tech machines would like to have their equipment as compact as possible. Machines have to be smaller in size, as floor area is expensive, especially in cleanrooms - the 'natural' habitat of machines that manufacture solar panels and microchips. A skid can be a very compact solution integrating multiple instruments.

Europe’s Solution Factories

Source: Europe’s Solution Factories by S.E.Chick, A.Huchzermeier and S. Netessine, Havard Business Review, April 2014 issue,

Chris King
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Introducing BronkU.com, a new resource for the University research community.

BronkU.com is a fresh new resource designed specifically for the university community. It is the brainchild of Bronkhorst USA, a leader and trusted expert in mass flow measurement and control solutions. We've always supported universities and BronkU.com is our way of advancing our commitment to future scientists.

In celebration of launching BronkU.com, we are awarding a $500 grant to assist future scientists in pursuing their research.

Visit BronkU.com

Bram de la Combé
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Guest Blog by Bram de la Combé from Green Team Twente

Green Team Twente makes a move in the right direction

Everyone knows the battery-electric Tesla’s. In 2012, they introduced their model S which gave the sales of electric vehicles a boost in countries like the US, China, UK, Norway and the Netherlands. During the same year, Green Team Twente was founded at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. They did a great job by building a magnificent hydrogen car, which won the first place at the European Championship for ultra-efficient hydrogen cars.

Since then, the battle of future mobility has begun. Will the battery electric car like the Model S win or will it be a hydrogen electric vehicle? At the moment hydrogen cars are at the beginning of their growth stage, but consumers are not really aware of their existence and car companies are waiting for a proper hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Therefore, the market for hydrogen cars is currently less developed than the battery electric market, but both have the same potential. Hydrogen vehicles are known for their longer range and shorter refueling times compared to battery electric cars. This potential has to be made reality within the upcoming years.

During my studies MSc Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Twente I wanted to do something which creates an impact. At the Green Team Twente we are working on building the most efficient hydrogen car. The estimations for this year are high, but realistic. With a fuel efficiency of 1L to 1000 km (gasoline equivalent) we belong to one of the top teams in the world.

Shell Eco-marathon We will participate in the Urban Concept class at the SEM, the Shell Eco-Marathon. This year it takes place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, UK on May 25-28. There, over 200 different student teams of all around Europe will battle for having the most energy-efficient car. Seen by 30.000 visitors, every team has to succeed 10 laps of 1659 meters within a certain amount of time. The team that uses the least amount of fuel wins.

As mentioned at the beginning, the first year was a great success. With a fuel efficiency of 727 km/l we became the number one of Europe. During the following years, the track became a lot harder and even some hills were added. It is a very realistic simulation of normal day to day driving, but it makes it very tricky to drive as efficient as possible. Last year, June 2016, we were back in business with a third place.

Image description The Green Team-ers We are working with the most motivated people you will find at the University of Twente. We create impact and are able to push ourselves to the limit. We have a great diversity with 19 students from different studies and different nationalities. They are working on a full-time or part-time base for one year. A very appealing setting for this student team is that team members can integrate parts of their study, so they really can become a specialist in their discipline.

The team consist of car enthusiasts, so a lot of inspiration is fetched through Formula One teams. They know how to build a car and process it in a professional way. For example, we like the way they express their partners on the car or how they handle data acquisition. In the future it would be great to learn more from those teams.

Partners are key In order to build one of the most fuel efficient cars, we depend on good relations with our partners. Every new team meets existing partners and are looking for new ones to improve our network. Since 2014, Bronkhorst is one of our partners. By supplying us with their flowmeters, we are able know the exact flow of hydrogen and air in our fuel cell. Which is extremely important during the race, in order to optimize our driving strategy.

Our powertrain consists of a PEM fuel cell with super capacitors that work like a buffer. The fuel cell generates a constant amount of power whereby the capacitors are used to release or capture extra energy during acceleration or braking. While driving we can control the amount of energy produced by the fuel cell by adjusting the flow of air. Of course we want to finish with the least amount of hydrogen used, so knowing the exact flow of air will benefit us to make the car as efficient as possible.

It will be exciting to see if we are going to win the European Championship again, follow us from May 25th to May 28th on our social media! For now, we, the Green Team Twente and Bronkhorst, are going to continue to realize more awareness and popularity of hydrogen powered cars by pushing the current technology to the limits of efficiency.

See a Teaser video

Follow Green Team Twente on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

See the team on Instagram

The Green Team Twente website