FloMetrix flowmeters help ethanol plants increase efficiency

By Erin Voegele | September 24, 2020

Iowa-based FloMetrix recently installed its patented flowmeter technology at a U.S. ethanol plant, where it has successfully helped the facility measure 11 million bushels of feedstock throughput. The company is now marketing the technology to additional ethanol producers, noting it can help plants operate more efficiently.

FloMetrix’s unique technology was originally developed by Iowa State University researchers Manjit Misra and Yuh-Yuan Shyy. Misra and Shyy founded FloMetrix in 2011 to further refine and commercialize the technology.

David Westphal, director of marketing and strategy for FloMetrix, explains that the technology can measure most any material that is dry and flowable. The technology is already used by a variety seed companies, ag co-ops, grain handling companies and others to accurately measure the weight of product loaded into trucks, railcars and the like. According to Westphal, the technology achieves more than 99 percent accuracy when compared to a certified scale.

The system is available in both vertical and non-vertical systems. The non-vertical systems were launched in 2019 and can be installed in an existing inclined spout or conduit without changing the geometry.

At ethanol plants, the system can be used to measure shelled corn going into a grinder and ground corn flour coming out of the grinder. The ability to accurately measure the amount of corn feedstock entering the plant allows plant operators to increase efficiency and save money by more accurately determining how many enzymes and other inputs should be added during the production process.

Westphal said FlowMetrix was approached by an ethanol plant interested in installing the company’s flowmeter technology and designed a system specifically for that plant. That system installed at that plant has now handled 11 million bushels of throughput, he said.

The company is now offering its flowmeter solution to other U.S. ethanol plants. Westphal said equipment is not an off-the-shelf solution. Rather, FloMetrix designs each flowmeter system. “We can mix and match around their needs and volume,” he said, noting the system is safe, simple and user-friendly. He also noted the flowmeters are made of stainless steel and can be used with food-grade products.

The systems are manufactured in Marshalltown Iowa and can be added to a facility during planned maintenance periods. According to Westphal, FloMetrix can have a system designed and installed within four to six weeks.