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BERISI TENTANG OPEN CHANNEL FLOW MEASUREMENT

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Flumes

written by: Harlan Bengtson edited by: Lamar Stonecypher updated:

11/3/2010

Parshall flumes are one of several types of open channel flow measurement devices. The

Parshall flume equations in this article are used for flow rate calculations with free flow

conditions in the flume. See also, dimensions for Parshall flumes and conditions for free flow

and submerged flow.

Introduction

Parshall flumes are widely used for open channel flow measurement, especially for flows

containing suspended solids, as for example the flow in wastewater treatment plants. A

Parshall flume has a converging section, throat, and diverging section, somewhat like a

venturi flume. It also has prescribed variations in the channel bottom slope as shown in the

diagram in the next section. Parshall flume equations are available for flow rate calculations

based on a measured head, for a Parshall flume constructed with prescribed dimensions as

discussed in the next section.

Parshall Flume Configuration and Dimensions

The size of a Parshall flume is designated by its throat width. Dimensions are available for

Parshall flume throat widths from 1 inch to 50 ft. The 1 inch flume

will carry a flow of 0.03 cfs at 0.2 ft of head, while a 50 ft Parshall flume will carry 3,000 cfs

at a head of 5.7 ft. The diagram at the left shows the overall configuration of a Parshall flume.

The picture at the right shows a small Parshall flume in

operation for open channel flow measurement. Standard dimensions for Parshall flumes with

throat widths from 1 ft to 8 ft are shown in the table below the figure at the left.

Image Credit: Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company

For the range of throat widths in the table, the other dimensions in the diagram are constant at

the following values:

E = 3'-0", F = 2'-0", G = 3'-0", K = 3 inches, N = 9 inches, X = 2 inches, Y = 3 inches.

Free Flow and Submerged flow in a Parshall Flume

The flow through a Parshall flume is said to be free flow when the flow rate through the

throat of the flume is not affected by the downstream flow. When this is the case, a hydraulic

jump should be visible in the Parshall flume throat. If the downstream level is high enough so

that flow is backed up into the throat, the hydraulic jump isnt visible, and the flow is said to

be submerged flow. A quantitative criterion to differentiate between free flow and submerged

flow uses head measurements at two locations, H

a

and H

b

as shown in the diagram at the left.

That criterion for several ranges of throat width is summarized here:

For 1 < W < 3 : free flow for H

b

/H

a

< 0.5; submerged flow for H

b

/H

a

> 0.5

For 6 < W < 9 : free flow for H

b

/H

a

< 0.6; submerged flow for H

b

/H

a

> 0.6

For 1 < W < 8 : free flow for H

b

/H

a

< 0.7; submerged flow for H

b

/H

a

> 0.7

For 8 < W < 50 : free flow for H

b

/H

a

< 0.8; submerged flow for H

b

/H

a

> 0.8

The Parshall Flume Free Flow Equation

The Parshall flume free flow equation is Q = CH

a

n

, where Q is the flow rate through

the flume in cfs, H

a

is the head over the flume in ft

(measured at the point shown for H

a

in the diagram above), and C and n are constants for a

Parshall Flume of given throat width. Values for C and n are given in the table at the right for

selected throat widths ranging from 1 in to 50 ft.

Graphs and tables are available for determination of the flow rate through a Parshall flume

under submerged flow conditions.

Also for Excel spreadsheet templates that can be downloaded to make flow rate calculations

for Parshall flumes for both free flow and submerged conditions, with either U.S. or S.I.

units, see the article, "Excel Formulas for Calculations with Parshall Flume Equations."

Example Calculation

Problem Statement: Consider a 6 ft Parshall flume operating under free flow condition with

a head, H

a

= 3.5 ft. What is the flow rate through this Parshall flume?

Solution: For a Parshall flume with 6 ft throat width, C = 24.00 and n = 1.59, from the table

above. The Parshall flume free flow equation can then be used:

Q = CH

a

n

= (24)(3.5

1.59

) = 175.9 cfs

References

References for further information:

1. U.S. EPA, Recommended Practice for the Use of Parshall Flume and Palmer Bowlus

Flumes in Wastewater Treatment plants, EPA600/2-84-180, 1984.

2. Wahl, Tony L., Equations for Computing Submerged Flow in Parshall Flumes, Bureau of

Reclamation, Denver, Colorado, USA.

3. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Water Measurement Manual, 2001

revised, 1997 third edition.

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