Custom Bubble SensorsYou may have heard about bubble sensors and their ability to detect the presence of pockets of air, or bubbles, within fluid-filled tubes. In medical technologies, these solutions can be a matter of life and death. For example, in an arterial pump that’s supplying blood to the heart, a small amount of air in that line could be catastrophic. 

While their use finds many critical needs in this field, there are other, non-medical applications for bubble sensors we’d like to focus on for this post.

If you’ve been planning or working on the fabrication of a solution in any of the verticals mentioned below, rest assured that at SMD Sensors we’re intimately familiar with bubble sensors and all of the innovative ways they can be applied to designs.

Retail/Consumer Goods

One industry that’s seen a lot more integration of sensors in it as the Internet of Things (IoT) market grows is retail and consumer goods. The incorporation of sensors that detect and inform on the status of an object is what makes some of the latest innovations possible.

Take for example food. A bubble sensor used in a milk dispensing system at a coffee shop or a convenience store can be used as a “bag empty” sensor that triggers an action to order more supplies or auto-fill more milk into the apparatus. This same sensor system can be used to report back to a central server and gather valuable data for usage characteristics and to detect anomalies. This data can then inform decisions at all levels of a company including design, management, and marketing.

Cooking oil necessary to properly prepare fried foods can also be automated for safety and better taste outcomes with the use of a bubble sensor that keeps air out of the system and ensures proper filling.

Outside of food, bubble sensors have been used by a salon for accurate hair dye dispensing to cut down on waste or poor color outcomes and fragrance dispensing too as a way to ensure just the right amount of deodorant is emitted.

Industrial / Technology

In the industrial market, heavy machine operators, manufacturing facilities, and those in energy verticals can also make use of bubble sensors to assist in the filling, pumping, or dispensing applications, or to detect overfill or under-fill of industrial tanks.

We’ve seen applications used to ensure a sample line is free from air bubbles in clean rooms and particle counters, for sample concentrates in bio-pharmaceutical systems, and even used as a fuel warning system in early iterations of a personal “jet suit” where innovative companies like Gravity Industries are making human flight a possibility.

One particularly ingenious use of a bubble sensor has been to use two bubble sensors in series to measure and monitor the flow rate and reaction rate of a hydrogenation process in a Plug Flow Reactor system.

Instead of detecting air bubbles in a liquid-filled line, with proper fail-safe considerations, bubble detectors can also be used to detect problematic liquid in an airline. They can be used to detect condensation – if a vapor condenses, the tubing can be laid out such that the liquid will “pool up” and be detected by a cleverly placed bubble sensor to alert an operator that something is wrong. Alternatively, bubble sensors can be placed in extremely sensitive vacuum systems used in the semiconductor industry to be used as a vacuum leak detector. If a vacuum system leaks, the liquid can be funneled into a point where a bubble sensor will detect it non-invasively.  

We Want to Help You

There are of course a plethora of possible other applications for bubble sensors than we’ve covered in this post. Many of these applications require custom bubble sensor solutions or sensors designed for specific industrial tubing. If you have questions or are in search of a bubble sensor to accomplish a task in your project, get in touch today!

Send us a message about your ideas and we’ll have an experienced team member reach out to you to get started.