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Basic Principle of Orifice Meter

When an orifice plate is placed in a pipe carrying the fluid whose rate of flow is to be
measured, the orifice plate causes a pressure drop which varies with the flow rate.
This pressure drop is measured using a differential pressure sensor and when
calibrated this pressure drop becomes a measure flow rate. The flow rate is given by.

Where, Qa = flow rate

Cd = Discharge coefficient
A1 = Cross sectional area of pipe
A2 = Cross sectional area of orifice
P1, P2 = Static Pressures

Description of Orifice Meter

The main parts of an orifice flow meter are as follows:

A stainless steel orifice plate which is held between flanges of a pipe carrying the
fluid whose flow rate is being measured.

It should be noted that for a certain distance before and after the orifice plate fitted
between the flanges, the pipe carrying the fliud should be straight in order to maintain
laminar flow conditions.

Openings are provided at two places 1 and 2 for attaching a differential pressure
sensor (U-tube manometer, differential pressure gauge etc) as shown in the

Operation of Orifice Meter

The detail of the fluid movement inside the pipe and orifice plate has to be

The fluid having uniform cross section of flow converges into the orifice plates
opening in its upstream. When the fluid comes out of the orifice plates opening, its
cross section is minimum and uniform for a particular distance and then the cross
section of the fluid starts diverging in the down stream.

At the upstream of the orifice, before the converging of the fluid takes place, the
pressure of he fluid (P1) is maximum. As the fluid starts converging, to enter the
orifice opening its pressure drops. When the fluid comes out of the orifice opening, its
pressure is minimum (p2) and this minimum pressure remains constant in the
minimum cross section area of fluid flow at the downstream.

This minimum cross sectional area of the fluid obtained at downstream from the
orifice edge is called VENA-CONTRACTA.

The differential pressure sensor attached between points 1 and 2 records the
pressure difference (P1 P2) between these two points which becomes an indication
of the flow rate of the fluid through the pipe when calibrated.

Applications of Orifice Meter

The concentric orifice plate is used to measure flow rates of pure fluids and has a
wide applicability as it has been standardized.

The eccentric and segmental orifice plates are used to measure flow rates of fluids
containing suspended materials such as solids, oil mixed with water and wet steam.

Advantages of Orifice Meter

It is very cheap and easy method to measure flow rate.

It has predictable characteristics and occupies less space.

Can be use to measure flow rates in large pipes.

Limitations of Orifice Meter

The vena-contracta length depends on the roughness of the inner wall of the pipe
and sharpness of the orifice plate. In certain cases it becomes difficult to tap the
minimum pressure (P2) due to the above factor.

Pressure recovery at downstream is poor, that is, overall loss varies from 40% to
90% of the differential pressure.

In the upstream straightening vanes are a must to obtain laminar flow conditions.

Gets clogged when the suspended fluids flow.

The orifice plate gets corroded and due to this after sometime, inaccuracy occurs.
Moreover the orifice plate has low physical strength.

The coefficient of discharge is low.

Note: the materials used for maintaining orifice plate are stainless steel, phosper
bronze, nickel and monel.


Rotameters are the most widely used type of variable-area

(VA) flowmeter. In these devices, the falling and rising action
of a float in a tapered tube provides a measure of flow rate
(see Figure 1). Rotameters are known as gravity-type
flowmeters because they are based on the opposition
between the downward force of gravity and the upward force
of the flowing fluid. When the flow is constant, the float stays

in one position that can be related to the volumetric flow

rate. That position is indicated on a graduated scale. Note
that to keep the full force of gravity in effect, this dynamic
balancing act requires a vertical measuring tube.
Other forms of gravity-type VA meters may incorporate a
piston or vane that responds to flow in a manner similar to
the float's behavior. All these devices can be used to
measure the flow rates of most liquids, gases, and steam.
There are also similar types that balance the fluid flow with a
spring rather than gravitational force. These do not require
vertical mounting, but corrosive or erosive fluids can damage
the spring and lead to reduced accuracy.
Figure 1. The rotameter's operating principle is based
on a float of given density's establishing an equilibrium position where, with a given flow rate, the
upward force of the flowing fluid equals the downward force of gravity. It does this, for example,
by rising in the tapered tube with an increase in flow until the increased annular area around it
creates a new equilibrium position. By design, the rotameter operates in accordance with formula
for all variable-area meters, directly relating flow rate to area for flow.
Compensation for viscosity changes. The float can be designed to compensate for normal
variations in viscosity and density so that certain viscous oils and chemicals, such as sulfuric
acid, can be measured accurately in spite of wide temperature changes.
Easy to install and maintain. The inherent simplicity of design makes the rotameter easy to
install and maintain. It mounts vertically in the pipe without pipe taps, connecting lines, seal pots,
or valves, or requirements for a straight run of pipe upstream or downstream as is necessary with
a dp transmitter, nor is there a need to keep such parts free of foreign matter.
Needs no electric power. The simple indication of flow rate locally requires no connection to an
electric power source, and hence make explosionproofing unnecessary where flammable fluids
may be present.

A rotameter is a device that measures the flow rate of a liquid or gas in a tube. Karl
Kueppers invented the rotameter in 1908, which has been widely used since then for a
variety of applications. Rotameters are included in a class of devices known as variable
area meters that depend on the substance they are measuring to change the area of the
test field being measured.
How Rotameters Work
Rotameters consist of a tube, generally made of glass, and an object known as a float. The
float is always denser than the substance it is resting in and does not actually float on the
substances surface, but rests somewhere between the substances surface and the bottom

of the container. As a liquid or gas passes through the tube, the flow causes the float to rise.
Under normal circumstances, gravity causes the float to fall. Depending on the substances
flow rate, the float will rest at a specific level in the tube. By marking each level in the tube, a
precise flow rate measurement can easily be obtained by noting where the float rests.
Rotameters are used in systems that involve a liquid or gas travelling through a tube. For
example, rotameters are used in oil pipelines to measure the flow rate of oil as it is dispersed
from one location to another across great distances. Portable rotameters can also be
constructed to measure the flow rate of large bodies of liquid or gas, such as rivers, oceans,
streams, as well as the atmosphere. These portable rotameters can simply be dunked into
the substance they are measuring in order for a measurement to be taken.
Rotameters have several important advantages over other variable area meters. They are
easy to construct and are often made from inexpensive materials. Rotameters do not require
any external force aside from the substance they are measuring and can be used in a wide
variety of systems due to their portability and small design.
Rotameters must be made of glass or other transparent material in order for the user to see
the float in the tube. They must also be used vertically because of their dependence on
gravity. Also, rotameters are only reliable for a specific substance at a specific temperature.
Therefore, multiple scales or even multiple rotameters must be used for measuring different


Flow Over Notches and Weirs

Flow Through Rectangular Notch
Flow Over a Triangular Notch
Trapezoidal Notch
Submerged Rectangular Notch


A weir is an opening in the sidewall of a tank at top. The stream of liquid coming out the
weir is known as a nappe, sheet, or vein. There is no difference between a notch and weir
except that the former is a small structure and has sharp edges. A weir is generally an overflow
structure, with a broad crest, built across an open channel. The terms air and weirs are used
synonymously in general. The top of weir wall over which the liquid flows is known as the sill or
crest. The head under which the weir is discharging is measured from the crest to the free
surface. A weir or notch is generally used for measuring the flow of liquids.


Flow Through a Rectangular Notch:

Discharge over the rectangular notch of crest length b and working under a head H.
Q=2/3 cd b 2g H3/2
Where cd= coefficient of discharge which depends on length of weir, the head H, the degree of
sharpness of the edge etc. and is about 0.62. The actual value of the c d for a particular notch should be
obtained from experiments.

End contractions:
If the length of the weir is less than the width of the channel, the nappe contracts at the sides.
The width of the nappe at the crest is less than the crest length b, and the weir is said to have end
contractions. Effective length, b=b-0.1 n H
Where n= no. of end contractions.

Velocity approach correction:

If the approach channel is narrow, the liquid when reaches the weir has the velocity of approach
(va). It creates the velocity head, and the effective head over the notch is increased. Thus the notch
formula needs correction.
Q=2/3 Cd 2g [b-0.1n (H+Ha)] [(H+Ha) 3/2-Ha3/2]

Ha=va2/2g for uniform velocity and

Ha= va v/2g for non-uniform velocity.
Francis formula: - Q=1.84 [b-0.1 n H] H3/2
Brazins formula: - q=2/3 [0.607 + 0.0045/H] b 2g H3/2
Rehbock formula: - q=2/3 [0.605 +0.08He/p] b 2g He 3/2
He =H+0.0011 m
P=height of weir.
A rectangular notch of crest width 40 cm is used to measure the discharge in a rectangular
channel 60 cm wide and 45 cm deep. If the head over the crest is 20 cm, find the discharge. Take
Solution: Q=2/3 cd b 2g H3/2
=0.066 m3/sec
The discharge over a rectangular notch is 0.15 cumecs when the head over the crest is 0.25 m. if the
coefficient of discharge is 0.6; determine the length of the notch. (Q=2/3 cd b 2g H3/2)

Flow over a Triangular notch:

A triangular notch, also called a V-notch, is of triangular shape with apex down.
Q=8/15 Cd2g tan (/2) H5/2
Where Cd=0.6 in general.

The coefficient of contraction of a notch depends upon the length of the wetted perimeter. In a
triangular notch there is no base to contraction. The contraction is due to sides only.
Consequently the coefficient of discharge is fnotchesly constant in a triangular notch for all
heads. A triangular notch is very accurate for the measurement of low discharges.

Why is a triangular weir more suitable than a rectangular weir for measuring discharge?
Calculate the top width and depth of a triangular notch capable of discharging a maximum
quantity of 700 liters per second. The weir discharges 5.7 liters per second when the head over
the crest is 7.5cm. Take Cd=0.62.

Trapezoidal notch:

It has the shape of trapezium. Discharge through a trapezoidal notch is Q =2/3 c d b 2g H3/2 +
8/15 Cd2g tan (/2) H5/2.
Cippoletti weir:

It is a trapezoidal weir with side slopes 1 in 4 (1H: 4V). The formula for the discharge
over a cippoletti weir is the as that for a rectangular weir without end contractions.
Then Q=2/3 Cd b 2g H3/2
Problem: what length of a cippoletti weir would be required to discharge 3.5 cumecs under a head of
0.5m? Take Cd=0.62.
Broad crested rectangular weir:

It is a weir having a broad crest or sill. The crest is wide enough to cause adherence
of the nappe to the top surface of the sill. The head over a crest on the u/s is H and d/s edge is
Q = Cd b 2g (H h2-h3)

Here H=h+(Va2/2g)

For maximum discharge h=(2/3)H

Q=1.7 Cd b H 3/2

If the crest width is less than 2/3 H, the nappe springs clear and the weir acts as a

sharp-crested weir. On the other hand, if the crest is excessively wide, i.e. l is large, the broadcrested weir would become a short flume. A hydraulic jump (when the velocity is very high) may
also occur. If the sill of the broad-crested weir is sharp at the entrance, the nappe springs up
and creates pockets of negative pressure at the u/s edge. This may result in cavitations. Thus
corners must rounded to avoid cavitations.

1. A water weir has to pass flood discharges of 3 cumecs. Find the length of the broadcrested weir, if the head over the crest is not to exceed 0.6 m. take C d=0.96.
The crest of a broad crested weir is 2m below the u/s water level. Find the length of the crest if the
discharge is 30 cumecs. Take Cd=0.97.

Submerged rectangular notch:

It is one in which the level of the liquid in the channel on the d/s of the notch in above the crest
of notch. The discharge over a submerged notch can be obtained by dividing the flow in two
The first portion act as a weir and second portion acts as a drowned orifice.
Q= 2/3 Cd b 2g H3/2 + Cd b H22gH

Because it is very difficult to measure the head H accurately, owing to undulation in the liquid surface,
the submerge weir is not suitable as a measuring device.

1. Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics And Hydraulic Machines K.R.Arora.