To ensure the proper operation of hydroelectric generators, their cooling must be well understood. However, the airflow within such machines is difficult to characterize, and although Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be a reliable engineering tool, its application to the field of hydroelectric generators is quite recent and has certain limitations which are, in part, due to geometrical and flow complexities, including the coexistence of moving (rotor) and stationary (stator) components. For this reason, experimental measurements are required to validate CFD simulations of such complex flows. Of particular interest is the quantification of the flow within the rotor rim ducts, since it is directly responsible for cooling the poles (one of the most critical components of a hydroelectric generator). Thus, to measure the flow therein, an anemometer was designed. The anemometer had to be accurate, durable, cost-effective, easy to install, and able to withstand the extreme conditions found in hydroelectric generators (temperatures of 45°C, centrifugal forces of 300 g, etc.). In this paper, a thermal mass flow meter and a method for validating its performance, using hot-wire anemometry and a static model of a rotor rim, are described. Preliminary tests demonstrate that the thermal mass flow meter is capable of i) measuring the mass flow rate in the rotor rim ducts with an accuracy of approximately 10%, ii) fitting inside small rectangular ducts (12.2 mm by 51 mm), and iii) resisting forces up to 300 g.

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