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A particle counting system for calculation of bedload fluxes

Mendes, LM ; Antico, F. ; Sanches, P. ; Alegria, F. ; Aleixo, R. ; Lage Ferreira, R. Ferreira

Measurement Science and Technology Vol. 27, Nº 12, pp. 125305 - 125305, October, 2016.

ISSN (print): 0957-0233
ISSN (online): 1361-6501

Journal Impact Factor: 1,493 (in 2008)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1088/0957-0233/27/12/125305

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Channel bed morphology depends on bedload fluxes which are difficult to determine even in controlled laboratory conditions. Particle counting can provide time resolved bedload fluxes. Determination of particle rates by means of digital image processing is computationally expensive and the requirement for optical access is not always met. Weighing methods are limited by short dynamic ranges. To overcome these difficulties this paper presents a prototype of a particle counter device that works by detecting impacts on a sensitive surface. The accuracy of the device is validated, by means of laboratory experiments, contrasting its results against those obtained by means of digital image analysis. This device proved to be capable of measuring bedload fluxes, determining long time series of bedload transport rates, in particles per unit time, with high accuracy and with a much lower computation cost relatively to digital image processing. The device is also able to gather meaningful data in real-time, like particle arrival time-series and real-time lateral bedload distribution. The parameters involved in the detection criterion must be previously set through a heuristic procedure. However, the method itself is direct—it requires no calibration between the acquired signal and bedload transport rates. Particle counts can be transformed in bedload discharges by a simple binning process or by taking finite differences of the cumulative mass function. First and second order moments of bedload discharge are in agreement with the values obtained by direct counting. The low requirement for data storage, allowing for very large data series, the real time analysis capabilities, the low cost of such system when compared with a digital image acquisition system constitute the main advantages of the device for the study of integral scales of bedload
and bedload intermittency.