In recent years, China ramped up imports of natural gas to satisfy the growing demand, which has increased the number of trade meters. Natural gas flowmeters need to be calibrated regularly at calibration stations to ensure their accuracy. Nowadays, the flow metrological calibration process is done by the operator manually in China, which is easy to be affected by personnel experience and proficiency. China is vigorously developing industry 4.0 and AI(artificial intelligence) technologies. In order to improve the calibration efficiency, a design scheme of intelligent controller for flow metrological calibration system is first proposed in this paper.

The intelligent controller can replace the operator for process switching and flow adjustment. First, the controller selects the standard flowmeter according to the type of the calibrated flowmeter, and switches the calibration process. To accurately control the calibration flow for 180 seconds, the controller continuously adjusts the regulating valve with a sequence of commands to the actuator. These commands are generated by intelligent algorithm which is predefined in the controller. Process switching is operated automatically according to flowmeter calibration specifications. In order to reach the required flow point quickly, the flow adjustment is divided into two steps: preliminary adjustment and precise adjustment. For preliminary adjustment, a BP neural network will be built first using the field historical data and simulation results. This neural network describes the relationship between the valve-opening scheme and the calibration flow. Therefore, it could give a calibration flow as close as possible to the expected value during calibration. For precise adjustment, an adaptive PID controller is used. It could adjust the valve opening degree automatically to make sure the flow deviation meet the calibration requirements. Since the PID controller is a self-adaptive PID controller, the process of adjustment is very quick, which can reduce the calibration time largely. After each calibration, both the original neural network and the adaptive function of the controller will be updated to achieve the self-growth.

With the information of the calibrated flowmeter, the entire calibration system can run automatically. The experiment in a calibration station shows that the intelligent controller can control the deviation of the flow value within 5% during 4∼5 minutes.

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