A new simple method is presented, which allows us to measure in just a few minutes but with reasonable accuracy (less than 1%) the volume confined inside a generic enclosure, regardless of the complexity of its shape. The technique proposed also allows us to measure the volume of any portion of a complex manifold, including, for instance, pipes and pipe fittings, valves, gauge heads, and so on, without disassembling the manifold at all. To this purpose an airtight variable volume is used, whose volume adjustment can be precisely measured; it has an overall capacity larger than that of the unknown volume. Such a variable volume is initially filled with a suitable test gas (for instance, air) at a known pressure, as carefully measured by means of a high precision capacitive gauge. By opening a valve, the test gas is allowed to expand into the previously evacuated unknown volume. A feedback control loop reacts to the resulting finite pressure drop, thus contracting the variable volume until the pressure exactly retrieves its initial value. The overall reduction of the variable volume achieved at the end of this process gives a direct measurement of the unknown volume, and definitively gets rid of the problem of dead spaces. The method proposed actually does not require the test gas to be rigorously held at a constant temperature, thus resulting in a huge simplification as compared to complex arrangements commonly used in metrology (gas expansion method), which can grant extremely accurate measurement but requires rather expensive equipments and results in time consuming methods, being therefore impractical in most applications. A simple theoretical analysis of the thermodynamic cycle and the results of experimental tests are described, which demonstrate that, in spite of its simplicity, the method provides a measurement accuracy within 0.5%. The system requires just a few minutes to complete a single measurement, and is ready immediately at the end of the process. The measurement can therefore be quickly repeated as many times as needed, in order to either check or further improve its accuracy. © 2006 American Institute of Physics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)