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Dhuwaraha Rajathelakan

Dr Zaki El Hassan

Introduction and Overview of Measurement Techniques in Fluid Flow

The measurements of flow of liquids are a very serious need in majority of the
industrial plants. The industrys profit making or even loss all depends on the
accuracy of the flow measurement. In some cases inaccurate results may cause
a disastrous result. With majority of the liquid flow measurement apparatuses,
the velocity or the change in kinetic energy is measured to determine the flow
rate. The pressure variance of the liquid that is forced through a pipe is what the
velocity depends on. The cross-sectional area of the pipe remains constant and
is known; the flow rate is indicated by the average velocity. In such cases to
determine the liquids flow rate the basic relationship is:

Q = liquid flow through the pipe

V = average velocity of the flow

A = cross-sectional pipe area

The liquid in contact with the pipe causes friction; viscosity and density affect
the liquid flow rate. To directly measure the liquid flow positive displacement
flow meters are used. The liquid is divided in to specific increments and move it
on. The total flow is an increase of the measured increments, which can be
counted by mechanical or electronic techniques
The majority of man-made flows are turbulent for example all natural occurring
flows on earth like lakes, rivers, oceans and even the atmosphere. Experimental
methods such as the Navier-Stokes equation were nearly impossible to solve in
majority of the actual applications.

D ui ij
Dt X j

Early turbulence research methods had a lot of restrictions like not being able to
measure reverse turbulence flow, vortices and high turbulent flows. To solve this
problem in the early sixtys lasers were developed. This made the measurement
of flows practical.

Types of Measurement

Mass flow rate / volume flow rate

The measurement of mass or volume of fluid flow is taken over certain cross
sectional area of pipe given per second. This is the method most industries use.
A wide range of devices exist for these commitments reflecting the wide range of
circumstances which may overcome gas flow, pressure, viscosity, conductivity,
liquid flow, the cleanliness of the fluid, fluid temperature, the presence of flow

Mass flow rate can also be calculated by:

= mass density of the fluid,

v = velocity field of the mass elements flowing,
A = cross-sectional vector area/surface,
Q = volumetric flow rate,
jm = mass flux.

In research lab local flow velocity is of importance rather than the total flow rate.
Laser Doppler velocimetry is an optical technique ideal for non-intrusive 1D, 2D
and 3D point measurement of velocity and turbulence distribution in both free
flows and internal flows. Velocimetry methods fall into two broad categories:
those which measure the flow velocity at a single point and those which offer
velocity data over a 2-D plane or even a 3-D volume. Point measurement
methods may provide very high resolution time histories of the velocity at a


Electronic Mass Flow Meters

Ultrasonic/Doppler Flow Meters

Turbine and Paddle Wheel Flow Meters

Variable Area Flow meters and Rota meters

Rota meters

Flow Meters with Analogue Output

Flow Indicators with Optional Pulse Output

Positive Displacement Flow

meters for High Viscosity Fluids

Low Flow Sensors

Vortex Shedding Flow meters and Pitot Tubes

Magnetic Flow meters


Air Velocity Indicators


What's New in pH, Flow and Environmental Products

Laser Doppler Anemometry

Laser Doppler Anemometry is a technique for measuring the direction and speed
of fluids. LDA was the most advanced invention for fluid diagnostics developed
by Yeh and Cummins. For this development no calibrations were required and
the output was accurately linear with low noise and high frequency response. In
this case velocity is measured in an independent way of other flow variables. The
LDA has had a lot of advancements over the years in terms of optical methods
for example fibres, software development and signal processing techniques.

The Doppler Effect is developed by Laser Doppler Anemometry to measure

instantaneous particle velocities. The velocity of the flow in the measuring
volume can be sensed without disturbance when Laser anemometers probe the
flow with focused laser beams. The fringe which is the crossing point of two
focused laser beams is the LDA measurement volume. The most commonly used
dimensions are 100 micron for the diameter and 1 millimetre for length. Using
beam expansion, larger beam separation on front lens and shorter focal length
lenses allows the measurements of smaller volumes. The increase on uncertainty
of Doppler frequency estimation can be achieved by using fewer fringes in the
measurement volume.

In the flow of the fluid being measured the LDA crosses two beams of
collimated, monochromatic, and coherent laser light in its simplest form. The
reflected radiation is collected by the Laser Doppler Anemometer sending a
monochromatic laser beam toward the target. The function of the targeted
object's relative velocity is the change in wavelength of the reflected radiation.
Usually, a Helium-Neon or Argon ion laser with a power of 10 mW to 20 W is
used. The particles should be suspended in the fluid for the operation of a Laser
Doppler Anemometry where the medium should be transparent through which
the laser beams pass. The LDA is very difficult to set up but gives a very
accurate reading of point measurement. The beams must intersect at the focal
point of the convex lens after passing through it and should be aligned around
the axis of rotation of the optics set. The cross sectional area at intersection
should be identical for each beam.

Two equal intensity laser beams that intersect across the target area at a known
angle are used on a typical LDA.
ADB . . . BEC . . . CFB
By using properties of similar s, =

= / (2 sin (/2))

When the particle has a velocity component vn vertical to the interference

fringe, the moving particle needs the following time for crossing a single fringe:

t = / vn
This brings about a signal frequency:
f = (1/t) = (vn.2 sin (/2)) /
The velocity component normal to the fringe pattern, not the actual velocity,
Is the measured velocity of the particle.
Data rates can be dealt by using commercial LDA signal processors at 100s of
kHz range. However in practice measurement volume size, and seeding
concentration requirements, validated data rates are typically in the ten kHz, or
kHz range. This update rate of velocity information is sufficient to recover the
frequency content of many flows.
Advantages and of LDAs

Measurement of local velocity in all three spatial coordinates is direct.

Greater frequency response of order of MHz is conceivable.
Larger accuracy rates.
Effectively measure very low flow velocities
Optical measurement method it is completely nonintrusive; no supports
for force balances, pressure taps or drag rakes are needed.

To measure wind velocities at heights no mast is required.

Flow field can also be measured, not just velocity at a point.
Works for any transparent medium containing particles.

Disadvantages of LDAs

Its very complicated to use because it has to be set up in a certain

accurate method for it to be precise.
The laser source, the target surface, and the photo detector must be
If the number of fringes decreases there will be fewer cycles therefore the
potential error will increase.
Only when there is a particle in the measurement volume does the LDA
sense the velocity.
The accuracy is highly reliant on position of emitted and reflected beams.
Successive particles at different positions in the gradient that are passing
through the measurement volume may have different velocities if the
measurement is being made in a flow with a velocity gradient for example
boundary layer. So in this case even if the flow turns out to be very steady
the LDA will still measure a velocity fluctuation.

Instrumentation, Measurement, and Analysis, Nakra and Chaudhry, TMH
Fluid Mechanics Measurement, Richard J.Goldstein
An Introduction to the Theory of Fluid Flows by Franz Durst
Unit Operations Of Chemical Engineering; McCabe, Smith, and Harriott
Biomechanical Systems Technology by Cornelius T. Leondes
Boundary-Layer Meteorology volume 8 by F. Durst, M. Zar and G. Wigley
Particle & Particle Systems Characterization Volume 4 by Dr Bodo Ruck

Springer Handbook of Experimental Fluid Mechanics, Volume 1

edited by Cameron Tropea, Alexander L. Yarin, John F. Foss