A fluid passing though an orifice constriction will experience a drop in pressure across the orifice. This change can be used to measure the flowrate of the fluid. To calculate the flowrate of a fluid passing through an orifice plate, enter the parameters below. (The default calculation involves air passing through a medium-sized orifice in a 4" pipe, with answers rounded to 3 significant figures.)

As long as the fluid speed is sufficiently subsonic (V < mach 0.3), the incompressible Bernoulli's equation describes the flow reasonably well. Applying this equation to a streamline traveling down the axis of the horizontal tube gives,

where location 1 is upstream of the orifice, and location 2 is slightly behind the orifice. It is recommended that location 1 be positioned one pipe diameter upstream of the orifice, and location 2 be positioned one-half pipe diameter downstream of the orifice. Since the pressure at 1 will be higher than the pressure at 2 (for flow moving from 1 to 2), the pressure difference as defined will be a positive quantity. From continuity, the velocities can be replaced by cross-sectional areas of the flow and the volumetric flowrate Q,

Solving for the volumetric flowrate Q gives,

The above equation applies only to perfectly laminar, inviscid flows. For real flows (such as water or air), viscosity and turbulence are present and act to convert kinetic flow energy into heat. To account for this effect, a discharge

the process temperature. a circular plate with no tab.6 to 0. The beta (or diameter) ratios of concentric orifice plates range from 0.85 pipe diameters downstream from the orifice plate. an orifice fitting allows the orifice to be removed from the process without depressurizing the line and shutting down flow. it ranges from 0. In contrast. gas. The traditional orifice is a thin circular plate (with a tab for handling and for data). It is available for all pipe sizes. universally accepted orifice flow equation. is used.coefficient Cd is introduced into the above equation to marginally reduce the flowrate Q. The maximum velocity and minimum static pressure occurs at some 0.35 to 0. In such fittings. The orifice flow equations used today still differ from one another. As a result. The concentric orifice plate (Figure A) has a sharp (square-edged) concentric bore that provides an almost pure line contact between the plate and the fluid. This method of installation is cost-effective. with negligible friction drag at the boundary. and the differential pressure. the volumetric flowrate Q for real flows is given by the equation. . That point is called the vena contracta. sometimes defined as b. although the various standards organizations are working to adopt a single. Since it depends on the orifice and pipe diameters (as well as theReynolds Number). SIZING THE ORIFICE PLATE The orifice plate is commonly used in clean liquid.75. Since the actual flow profile at location 2 downstream of the orifice is quite complex. inserted into the pipeline between the two flanges of an orifice union. it is very cost-effective for measuring flows in larger pipes (over 6" diameter).9 for most orifices. thereby making the effective value of A2 uncertain. and if the pressure drop it requires is free. The flow coefficient Cf is found from experiments and is tabulated in reference books. although stainless steel is the most common. the pressure. the following substitution introducing a flow coefficient Cf is made. and steam service. The thickness of the plate used ( 1/8-1/2") is a function of the line size. the universal orifice plate. where Ao is the area of the orifice.25 to 0. The mass flowrate can be found by multiplying Q with the fluid density. Orifice sizing programs usually allow the user to select the flow equation desired from among several. The orifice plate is also approved by many standards organizations for the custody transfer of liquids and gases. The orifice plate can be made of any material. but it calls for a process shutdown whenever the plate is removed for maintenance or inspection. one will often find Cf tabulated versus the ratio of orifice diameter to inlet diameter.

and. the vena contracta might lie under a flange. the minimum Reynolds number also rises. the relatively small clearances represent a potential maintenance problem. Corner taps are predominant in Europe for all sizes of pipe. in small pipes. but also the most noise.35D to 0. since friction has an effect on the fluid and the pipe wall. .000 to 107 in pipes under six inches. gases. Because the basic orifice flow equations assume that flow velocities are well below sonic. measurement errors are the greatest. In larger size pipes. it may require a change in the tap location. Therefore. therefore. They detect the smallest pressure difference and. The vena contracta taps provide the maximum pressure differential. a different theoretical and computational approach is required if sonic velocities are expected. Pipe taps are located 2.8D.5 pipe diameters upstream and 8 diameters downstream from the orifice . if the plate is changed. Also. They are not recommended for use on pipelines under 2 inches in diameter. and steam flows when Reynolds numbers range from 20. Vena contracta taps (which are close to the radius taps) are located one pipe diameter upstream from the plate. dimensional inconsistencies. and are used in the United States for pipes under 2 inches . the effects of pipe roughness. vena contracta taps normally are used only in pipe sizes exceeding six inches. and downstream at the point of vena contracta.5D from the orifice plate . Radius taps are similar to vena contracta taps. except the downstream tap is fixed at 0. The minimum recommended Reynolds number for flow through an orifice varies with the beta ratio of the orifice and with the pipe size. Additionally. With corner taps. ORIFICE TYPES & SELECTION The concentric orifice plate is recommended for clean liquids. Flange taps are predominantly used in the United States and are located 1 inch from the orifice plate's surfaces . because of the tap distance from the orifice.Measuring the differential pressure at a location close to the orifice plate minimizes the effect of pipe roughness. This location varies (with beta ratio and Reynolds number) from 0.

but only corner taps should be used with a conical orifice. In extreme cases. or it can change the flow pattern. If the secondary phase is a liquid in a gas or a slurry in a liquid stream. If the secondary phase is a gas. and. and must be carefully installed to make sure that no portion of the flange or gasket interferes with the opening. and are located in the quadrant opposite the opening for the eccentric orifice. In multi-element restriction orifice installations.Because of this minimum Reynolds number consideration. square-edged orifices are seldom used on viscous fluids. this can clog the opening. creating measurement error. in line with the maximum dam height for the segmental orifice. These are proprietary devices with little published data on their performance. single-phase fluids only because even small amounts of build-up will create significant measurement errors or will clog the unit. The pressure drop across a single restriction orifice should not exceed 500 psid because of plugging or galling. their flow coefficients are based on actual laboratory calibrations. because they often plug up. Restriction orifices are installed to remove excess pressure and usually operate at sonic velocities with very small beta ratios. In this design. The unmeasured flow passing through the vent or drain hole is usually less than 1% of the total flow if the hole diameter is less than 10% of the orifice bore. Quadrant-edged and conical orifice plates are recommended when the Reynolds number is under 10. or with vent holes for venting entrained gases from liquids (Figure A above). Eccentric and segmental orifice plates are better suited for such applications. Flange taps are used with both types of plates. it is preferred in applications with high proportions of the secondary phase. and radius taps can all be used with quadrant-edged orifices. . therefore. Concentric orifice plates can be provided with drain holes to prevent buildup of entrained liquids in gas streams. the plates are placed approximately one pipe diameter from one another in order to prevent pressure recovery between the plates. a d/p cell with an integral orifice may be the best choice. however. the total process flow passes through the d/p cell. corner. the opening should be at the bottom of the pipe. Concentric orifices are still preferred for multi-phase flows in vertical lines because accumulation of material is less likely and the sizing data for these plates is more reliable. The opening of the segmental orifice (Figure C above) is a segment of a circle. The drainage area of the segmental orifice is greater than that of the eccentric orifice. eliminating the need for lead lines. Flange taps. Concentric orifice plates are not recommended for multi-phase fluids in horizontal lines because the secondary phase can build up around the upstream edge of the plate. They are recommended for clean. The eccentric orifice (Figure B above) is similar to the concentric except that the opening is offset from the pipe's centerline. The effectiveness of vent/drain holes is limited.000. the opening of an eccentric orifice will be located towards the top of the pipe. For the measurement of low flow rates. These plates are usually used in pipe sizes exceeding four inches in diameter.

5% AR. the quality of the installation.lmnoeng. Compute flowrate.ORIFICE PERFORMANCE Although it is a simple device. or differential pressure.htm LARGE DIAMETER ORIFICE FLOWMETER CALCULATION FOR GAS FLOW For pipe diameter > 5 cm. cheap and can be delivered for almost any application in any material. Equations: ISO 5167 http://www. Orifice plates are. orifice diameter. Compute flowrate. gasket interference.lmnoeng. Equations: ASME MFC-14M-2001.com/Flow/SmallOrificeGas. senior orifice fittings. or differential pressure. Under ideal conditions.com/Flow/OrificeGas. Precision in the bore calculations. http://www. Equations: ISO 5167 http://www. adequacy of straight pipe runs. misalignment of pipe and orifice bores. Their accuracy are poor at low flow rates. the inaccuracy of an orifice plate can be in the range of 0. however. Other adverse conditions include the dulling of the sharp edge or nicks caused by corrosion or erosion. these problems can be even more worrisome and the net effect unpredictable. flow straighteners. the orifice plate is. with a sharp edge to the upstream side. orifice diameter. Installation factors include tap location and condition. a typical orifice installation can be expected to have an overall inaccuracy in the range of 2 to 5% AR. under average operating conditions. Wear reduces the accuracy. or differential pressure. Equations: ASTM MFC-14M-2001 http://www. The typical custody-transfer grade orifice meter is more accurate because it can be calibrated in a testing laboratory and is provided with honed pipe sections.lmnoeng. Therefore. quite sensitive to a variety of error-inducing conditions. a precision instrument.htm SMALL BORE ORIFICE FLOWMETER CALCULATION FOR GAS FLOW For pipe diameter < 5 cm. Compute flowrate. and grease or secondary phase deposits on either orifice surface.lmnoeng. and temperature controlled enclosures.com/Flow/SmallOrificeLiq. The orifice plates are simple.htm SMALL DIAMETER ORIFICE FLOWMETER CALCULATION FOR LIQUID FLOW For pipe diameter < 5 cm. In combination. and the condition of the plate itself determine total performance. condition of the process pipe. bore diameter. A high accuracy depend on an orifice plate in good shape.com/orifice. and lead line design. Any of the above conditions can change the orifice discharge coefficient by as much as 10%. or differential pressure. in principle.75-1. orifice diameter. LARGE DIAMETER ORIFICE FLOWMETER CALCULATION FOR LIQUID FLOW For pipe diameter > 5 cm. Compute flowrate. warpage of the plate due to waterhammer and dirt.htm . The TurnDown Rate for orifice plates are less than 5:1.