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The Engineer’s

Guide to DP Flow
Table of Contents

1. Differential Pressure Flow Measurement ..................1

2. Fluids Basics and Concepts ......................................13

3. Theory of DP Flow ..................................................23

1 DP Flow Measurement


1.1 Introduction ............................................... 2

1.2 Objectives ................................................... 2

1.3 History of DP Flow ..................................... 2

1.4 Pressure ..................................................... 3

1.5 DP Flow 101 ............................................... 4

1.6 DP Flow Measurement Applications ......... 7

1.7 Flow Meter Installations ............................. 7

1.8 Alternate Flow Technologies ...................... 9

1.9 Summary .................................................... 9

1 – DP Flow Measurement 1 – DP Flow Measurement

1.1 INTRODUCTION This book focuses on practical engineering problems

and challenges. That said, the elements of theory
Bernoulli’s principle dictates that the total pressure
within a system is equivalent to the summation of its
Most famously, he studied the flow of fluids in pipes,
and more specifically, the conditions under which the
found here are crucial to the successful engineering of dynamic and static pressures. flow transitions from laminar flow to turbulent flow.
1.1.1 Differential Pressure most DP Flow solutions. Out of this was created the dimensionless Reynolds
Flow Measurement Mathematically in the simplest terms, this is expressed number (Re).
1.3 HISTORY OF DP FLOW in Bernoulli’s equation:
Differential pressure flow measurement (DP Flow) is The Reynolds number quantifies the relation of inertial
one of the most common technologies for measuring Flow measurement in general began thousands of (1.1) forces to viscous forces, thus:
flow in a closed pipe. Flow rate of the fluid in the pipe years ago. Ancient Egyptians made approximate
is derived from the pressure differential between the predictions of harvests based on the relative level of Where:
upstream (high) side and downstream (low) side of an spring floods of the Nile. Centuries later, as Romans q = Dynamic pressure (1.2)
engineered restriction in the pipe. engineered aqueducts to convey water into their
cities for sustenance, baths and sanitation, the need
p = Static pressure

There are many reasons for the wide usage of DP Flow to monitor steady flow became important. Operators p0 = Total pressure
Reynolds number quantifies the relative importance
technology: used flow through an orifice or the welling of water of these two types of flow forces in a given flow
over obstructions to roughly gauge flow rates. Marks Much more detail on Bernoulli’s equation can be found
in the next chapter. Bernoulli’s equation describes the condition.
• Its technology is based on well-known laws of on the walls of the flow stream, strength of the stream
through the orifice or other methods gave a rough idea conservation of hydraulic energy across a constriction
physics, particularly around fluid dynamics and Because Reynolds number describes the flow regime
of flow rates. in a pipe. It states that the sum of the static energy
mass transport phenomena of a fluid, under certain conditions it is central to
(pressure), kinetic energy (velocity), and potential
• Its long history of use has also led to the designing and operating DP Flow meters. Specifically,
Advancements toward measured, repeatable flow energy (elevation) upstream and downstream of the
development of standards for manufacture Reynolds number can be applied as a constraint on
metering increased after Newton’s discovery of the law constriction are equal.
and use of DP flow meters the range of a flow meter’s applicability. Operating
• Manufacturers offer a large catalog of both of gravitation in 1687. This concept enabled physicists a flow meter outside of its Reynolds number range
and mathematicians to begin to formulate a broad In the years since Bernoulli, many follow-on
general and application-specific instrumentation constraints can degrade accuracy.
range of theories and hypotheses around motion expressions of Bernoulli-based equations have been
and installation choices
and force. These in turn helped develop a range of developed. These capture the behaviors of a broad
• Finally, DP Flow technologies can achieve high
accuracy and repeatability instruments that quantified flow volumes and rates. range of compressible and incompressible liquids in 1.4 PRESSURE
many types of applications.

1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THIS BOOK 1.3.1 Bernoulli The most critical background concept in the domain of
Much has been developed from Bernoulli’s work. For DP Flow is pressure.
Swiss mathematician Daniel example, flow over an airfoil, the mechanism of lift,
This handbook is intended to help engineers and Bernoulli (1700-1782), whose study harnesses Bernoulli’s principle in aircraft. Flow through Accurate measurement of liquid, gas, and steam
process technicians bring all the elements of DP Flow of hydrodynamics centered on the a restriction, while named for another researcher, pressure is basic to many industrial processes. A
together in a comprehensive reference. The book will principle of conservation of energy, Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746-1822), exhibits typical plant will use more pressure measurement
present enough theory and technical background to provided the first key breakthrough Bernoulli’s principle in carbureted internal combustion and pressure control devices than all other types of
provide a solid context for engineering, procurement, in the development of technologies engines, where the pressure drop across a venturi measurement and control instruments combined.
and configuration of DP Flow technologies. This for flow measurement. sucks gasoline into the air stream entering the engine.
includes the following:
Bernoulli strove to discover as much as possible
1.4.1 What Is Pressure?
• The necessary equations and calculations
about the flow of fluids and his work led to the
1.3.2 Reynolds
commonly needed for developing DP Flow Pressure is the amount of force applied over a defined
development of what is known as Bernoulli’s Principle.
systems Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912) area.
This states that for a hypothetical fluid with no
• A full discussion of components commonly is a second key researcher who
viscosity, an increase in the speed of the fluid creates a
found in DP Flow systems in gas, liquid, and contributed significantly to the The Pressure Equation
simultaneous decrease in the fluid’s potential energy.
steam applications theoretical development of DP Flow The relationship between pressure, force, and area is
• Discussions of DP Flow instrumentation technologies. represented in the following formula:
Conservation of energy is the basis for DP Flow
technologies found in primary elements
measurements. The Bernoulli principle says that the
and transmitters Reynolds was not a physicist but a student of
sum of all energy in the fluid flow—remains constant
• Common uses including the challenges and mechanics. His work began with the practical (1.3)
regardless of conditions. When the speed of the fluid
points to consider with specific applications steamfitting of ships, though he progressed to an
increases, its static pressure and potential energy
• Installation guidelines astonishing array of studies. Among them are the
decrease, while its dynamic pressure and kinetic Where:
• Maintenance and calibration procedures mechanism of the drag of ships in water, condensation
energy increase.
of steam, propeller design, turbine propulsion design, P = Pressure
and hydraulic brakes. F = Force
A = Area

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1 – DP Flow Measurement 1 – DP Flow Measurement

If a force is applied over an area, pressure is being

applied. Pressure increases if the force increases, or the
1.5 DP FLOW 101–THE ROOTS Reynolds Number: By factoring in the relationships
between the various factors in a given system,
Volume can be broken down to area multiplied by
size of the area over which the force is being applied (SQUARED) Reynolds number can be calculated to describe the
decreases. type of flow profile. This becomes important when (1.6)
1.5.1 What Is Flow? choosing how to measure the flow within the system.
Why Measure Pressure?
Flow theory is the study of fluids in motion. A fluid is Where:
Four of the most common reasons that process There are three different flow profiles that are defined
any substance that can flow, and thus the term applies
industries measure pressure are: by different Reynolds number regimes. Laminar A = Area
to both liquids and gases. Precise measurement and
flow, Reynolds number below 2000, is a smooth flow s = length
control of fluid flow through pipes requires in-depth
• Safety in which a fluid flows in parallel layers. It is usually
technical understanding, and is extremely important
• Process efficiency characterized with low velocities, very little mixing, Flow can thus be expressed as:
in almost all process industries.
• Cost savings and sometimes high fluid viscosity. When a fluid’s
• Measurement of other process variables 1.5.2 Key Factors of Flow Through flow profile has a Reynolds number between 2000
Pipes and 4000, it is in a transitional zone. A Reynolds (1.7)
Safety: Pressure measurement helps prevent number above 4000 is called turbulent flow. This is
overpressurization of pipes, tanks, valves, flanges, There are 5 factors that are key to flow: characterized by high velocity, low viscosity, and rapid
and other equipment; minimizes equipment damage; and complete fluid mixing.
This can be further simplified, since length divided by
controls levels and flows; and helps prevent unplanned 1. Physical piping configuration time yields velocity:
pressure or process release or personal injury. 2. Fluid velocity Best accuracy in DP flow metering occurs with
3. Friction of the fluid along the walls of the pipe turbulent flow, where Reynolds number is greater
Process Efficiency: In most cases, process efficiency is 4. Fluid density than 4000 (varies primary element to element). This is (1.8)
highest when pressures (and other process variables) 5. Fluid viscosity because in turbulent flow, the point at which the fluid
are maintained at specific values or within a narrow separates from the edge of the flow restriction is more
range of values. Piping Configuration: The diameter and cross- predictable and consistent. This separation of the fluid Substituting velocity for s/t:
sectional area of the pipe enables both the creates the low pressure zone on the downstream
Cost Savings: Pressure or vacuum equipment (e.g., determination of fluid volume for any given length side of the restriction, thus allowing that restriction
pumps and compressors) uses considerable energy. of pipe and is included in the determination of the to function as the primary element of a DP meter. (1.9)
Pressure optimization can save money by reducing Reynolds number for a given application. Depending on the type of restriction and design of
energy costs. the flow meter, the minimum pipe Reynolds number This yields the simplest representation of equation.
Velocity: Depends on the pressure or vacuum that at which a specific meter should be operated can be
Measurement of Other Process Variables: Pressure forces fluid through the pipe. considerably higher than 4000.
is used to measure numerous processes. Pressure
transmitters are frequently used in a number of Friction: Because no pipe is perfectly smooth, fluid in 1.5.3 Flow Continuity
applications, including: contact with a pipe encounters friction, resulting in a Hence,
slower flow rate near the walls of the pipe compared to When liquid flows through a pipe of varying diameter,
• Flow rates through a pipe at the center. The larger, smoother, or cleaner a pipe, the same volume flows at all cross sectional slices. This
• Level of fluid in a tank the less effect on the flow rate. means that the velocity of flow must increase as the (1.12)
• Density of a substance diameter decreases and, conversely, velocity decreases
• Liquid interface measurement Density: Density affects flow rates because the more when the diameter increases. (1.13)
dense a fluid, the higher the pressure required to
The square root of the differential pressure across obtain a given flow rate. Because liquids are (for all Volumetric flow equates to the volume of fluid divided
a restriction in a pipe is proportional to flow. This is practical purposes) incompressible and gases are by time:
expressed mathematically as: compressible, different methodologies are required to
measure their respective flow rates.
(1.4) Viscosity: Defined as the molecular friction of a fluid,
viscosity affects flow rates because in general, the
Where: higher the viscosity more work is needed to achieve Where:
Q = Flow rate the desired flow rates. Temperature affects viscosity, Q = Volumetric flow rate
but not always intuitively. For example, while higher
∝ (signifies proportionality) temperatures reduce most fluid viscosities, some fluids
V = Volume
ΔP = Differential pressure actually increase in viscosity above a certain tempera- t = Time
Figure 1.5.3.a - Graphical representation of the simplest
representation of the flow law where Q1 = Q2.

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1 – DP Flow Measurement 1 – DP Flow Measurement

The derivation of flow continuity above describes the 1.5.5 Primary Element Types Multivariable transmitters, unlike traditional Internal Billing & Resource Allocation: Tighter
basic principle of energy conservation. The Bernoulli differential pressure transmitters, are capable of control over inventories and process rates contributes
equation, which will be covered in more detail in There are many kinds of primary elements: calculating mass flow, energy flow, volumetric flow, directly to profitability. For many sophisticated
Chapter 3, builds on this principle to define the energy and totalized flow. producers, internal billing around process costs
conservation appropriate for flowing fluid. • Single hole and conditioning orifice plates directly impacts the bottom line.

1.5.4 The DP Flow meter

• Single and multiple-port pitot tubes 1.6 DP FLOW MEASUREMENT– Custody Transfer: Flow metering is the cash register
• Venturi tubes
Differential pressure is the most common flow • Flow nozzles APPLICATIONS for products sold by volume or weight. An accurate
• Cones measurement on the dispensing side accounts for
measurement methodology today. There are three
• Segmental wedges DP Flow measurement allows the optimization of every drop and on the receiving side minimizes over-
important elements that are combined to create a
many different aspects of a process including the charging.
differential pressure flow meter.
The primary element creates a pressure drop across
• Product consistency
1.7 Flow meter
the flow meter by introducing a restriction in the
pipe. This pressure drop is measured by the secondary
PHigh PLow • Production efficiency INSTALLATIONS: TRADITIONAL
element, a differential pressure transmitter. The
• Process variable control
• Safety
tertiary element consists of everything else within the
• Internal billing / allocation
system needed to make it work, including impulse Sensor and process instrumentation in general has
• Custody transfer
piping and connectors that route the upstream and
downstream pressures to the transmitter.
Flow seen a great deal of integration of both form and
function over the last two decades with DP Flow being
Product Consistency: Batch-based products depend
no exception.
on accurate proportions of ingredients—DP Flow helps
By creating an engineered restriction in a pipe,
ensure the accurate of delivery of liquids and gases.
Bernoulli’s equation can be used to calculate flow rate Figure 1.5.5.a - Pressure flow diagram showing how DP Flow At this point in time, there are two broad types of DP
because the square root of the pressure drop across works. As fluids pass the restriction from the high side, the flow meters installations: traditional and integrated.
restriction induces a pressure drop. Flow is then calculated from Production Efficiency: Metering and measurement
the restriction is proportional to the flow rate.
the pressure drop (DP) across the restriction. of flow are part of a broad range of process control
variables related to efficiency, from batch control, to 1.7.1 Traditional
There are some important cautions around DP flow
by-product scavenging, to emissions monitoring.
metering, including (1) ensuring that impulse lines do The Traditional Installation Method calls for three
not clog with particles or sludge; (2) orienting impulse 1.5.6 Transmitter Options
separate component categories.
lines correctly—they have to be sloped to prevent
gas accumulation in liquid applications and liquid There are two main types of pressure transmitters
used to calculate flow using differential pressure. 1. Primary element (differential pressure producer)
accumulations in gas applications; and (3) ensuring 2. Secondary element (transmitter)
that periodic calibration does not degrade accuracy— The first is the traditional differential pressure type,
which only measures differential pressure, with no 3. Tertiary elements (impulse lines, connecting
avoided by the use of highly accurate calibration hardware, tubing, fittings, valves, etc.)
equipment. ancillary functionality. The second is the multivariable

A multivariable transmitter is a differential pressure

transmitter that is capable of measuring a number of
independent process variables, including differential
pressure, static pressure, and temperature. When used
as a mass flow transmitter, these independent values
can be used to compensate for changes in density,
viscosity, and other flow parameters. 3
Figure 1.6.a - Utility monitoring is a major component of 2
Although multivariable transmitters can be more production efficiency.
expensive than traditional differential pressure
transmitters, they eliminate the need for multiple
Process Variable Control: Processes often include
devices at a single measurement point. This means
multiple variable inputs. Control over these variables,
fewer transmitters, less wiring, fewer process
including flow rates, is key to quality production.
penetrations, and lower overall installed cost.
Figure 1.7.1.a - The traditional DP Flow installation has separate
Safety: DP Flow helps prevent a broad range of threats primary element, top left, tertiary elements (impulse lines,
Figure 1.5.4.a - An integrated DP flow meter. to safety including overfilling, reactor control, and valves, connectors, and manifold), and secondary element, the
others. transmitter, center right).

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1 – DP Flow Measurement 1 – DP Flow Measurement

The traditional form enables component-by- The integrated flow meter works much the same Optical flow meters use photodetectors to gauge the
component engineering to meet a wide variety of way as that of the traditional flow meter. It uses the
1 5 movement of particles in an illuminated fluid stream.
applications and can be engineered to meet custody same equations, works largely with the same primary 7 8
transfer standards. elements, and is available with the same transmitters Vortex flow meters use electrical pulse generators—
(both differential pressure and multivariable). commonly a piezoelectric crystal—to measure flow
Owing to its long history, many traditions around disturbances (vortices) around a calibrated
DP-based flow measurement have emerged. Some 1.7.3 Benefits of the Integrated 3 obstruction.
of these traditions, however, have led to inherent Flow meter 4
limitations or problems. These include multiple 9 Each of the various flow measurement technologies
An integrated flow meter design eliminates the need
potential leak points at connectors, separate /incorrect in existence today has its ideal range of applications.
for fittings, tubing, valves, adapters, manifolds, and
piping and manifolding; accuracy problems traceable However, thanks to its long history, its ease of use, and
mounting brackets.
to long impulse lines. In addition, installation is its immense range of applicability, DP Flow remains
complex, requiring long straight runs (dependent on the most commonly used form of flow measurement
Compared to traditional installation, the benefits of
the primary element used) and careful configuration of 10 in industry.
integrated flow meters include:

Much work has been done over the years to correct for
• Fewer potential leak points (factory leak- 1.9 SUMMARY
some of these issues, and thus extend the usefulness
• Fewer flow measurement error sources
2 Differential pressure flow metering is the most
and value of DP Flow installations.
• Simplified ordering and installation Figure 1.7.3.b - Integrated multivariable instrumentation. common technology for measuring flow in a closed
• Decreased susceptibility to freezing and pipe.
1.7.2 Integrated
The integrated flow meter integrates the primary • More compact footprint In Figures 1.7.3.a and 1.7.3.b: • The technology is based on well-known laws
element and the transmitter into a single flow meter of physics, fluid dynamics and mass transport
assembly. It was in large part developed to minimize Rosemount integrated flow meters combine industry 1. Flow Computer • Its long history of use has led to the creation of
the issues around installations of the older-style leading transmitters with innovative primary element 2. Primary Element basic and practical engineering solutions for a
traditional flow meter. As a result, its installation calls technologies and connection systems. There are 3. Thermowell broad range of applications
for components and less labor than traditional flow in effect 10 devices in one flow meter, simplifying 4. Temperature Sensor • Manufacturers offer a large catalog of general
meters installations. engineering, procurement, and installation. 5. Temperature Transmitter and application-specific DP Flow instrumentation
6. Sensor Wiring
7. Pressure Transmitter 1.9.1 History
8. DP Transmitter
2 3 9. Manifold Over the past centuries great strides have been made
4 10. Connection Hardware
5 in the advancement of flow measurement. Two major
of the major players in these advancements were
1.8 ALTERNATE FLOW Daniel Bernoulli and Osborne Reynolds.
TECHNOLOGIES • Decreased susceptibility to freezing and
10 Flow measurement can be performed with a broad
8 • More compact footprint
1 range of technologies other than pressure-based.
7 These include open channel, mechanical, ultrasonic, Rosemount integrated flow meters combine industry
electromagnetic, Coriolis, optical, thermal mass, and leading transmitters with innovative primary element
vortex types. technologies and connection systems. There are
9 in effect 10 devices in one flow meter, simplifying
Electromagnetic flow meters, which require an engineering, procurement, and installation.
electrically-conductive fluid and a means for inducing
magnetic energy to the flow, use electrodes to sense
Figure 1.7.2.a - This integrated DP flow meter combines both the current induction from the magnetic flux.
Figure 1.7.3.a - Traditional DP Flow structure. See page 17 for
primary element and the transmitter into a single flow meter
call outs.
assembly, reducing potential leak points during installation and
use.. Coriolis flow meters, as the name implies, use the
Coriolis effect, which induces distortion in a vibrating

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1 – DP Flow Measurement 1 – DP Flow Measurement

1.9.2 The Phenomenon of Pressure 1.9.4 Applications of DP Flow

The most crucial background concept in the domain
of DP flow is pressure, the physical phenomenon Process engineering and cost engineering are the two
that is harnessed to derive measurements. Accurate primary disciplines that exploit DP flow. The primary
measurement of liquid, gas, and steam pressure is objectives include engineering for:
basic to many industrial processes—and, of course,
specific to DP flow measurement. • Product consistency
• Production efficiency
1.9.3 DP Flow 101—The Basics • Process variable control
• Safety
A DP flow meter consists of two major elements, a • Internal billing / allocation
primary element, a restrictor in a pipe; and a secondary • Custody transfer
element, the differential pressure transmitter.
1.9.5 Instrument Form Factors:
There are many kinds of primary elements: Traditional Versus Integrated
• Orifice plates There are two broad types of DP flow meters available,
• Venturi tubes traditional and integrated.
• Elbows
• Flow nozzles The traditional form consists of three component
• Single- and multiple-port pitot tubes categories.
• Cones
• Segmental wedges 1. Primary element (Differential pressure producer)
2. Secondary element (transmitter)
3. Tertiary elements (impulse lines, connecting
hardware, tubing, fittings, valves, etc.)

The integrated form integrates the primary element

and the transmitter into a single entity. See figure

1.9.6 Alternate Flow Technologies

Flow measurement can be performed with a broad
range of technologies other than pressure-based.
These include:
• Open channel
• Mechanical
• Ultrasonic
• Electromagnetic
• Coriolis
• Optical
Figure 1.9.3.a - The modern DP Flow meter which integrates the • Thermal mass
primary and secondary elements. • Vortex

Thanks to its range of usability and its critical mass of

knowledge, DP flow remains the most-used form of
flow measurement in industry.

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2 Fluids Basics and Concepts


2.1 Introduction ................................................ 14

2.2 Force, Weight , and Mass ............................ 14

2.3 Density ........................................................ 15

2.4 Specific Gravity ............................................ 15

2.5 Pressure ....................................................... 15

2.6 Temperature ................................................ 17

2.7 Viscosity ...................................................... 18

2.8 Fluid Velocity ............................................... 19

2.9 Mass and Volumetric Flow .......................... 19

2.10 Isentropic Exponent .................................... 19

2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts 2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts


Weight of an object can be defined as:
This chapter presents an overview of the physical Specific gravity (SG) is the ratio of density of one
properties of fluids, a review of basic concepts, and substance to the density of a second, or reference,
covers the fundamentals required to understand Acceleration, a substance. The reference substance for liquids is
the theory of measuring flow, which is presented in Mass, Where: generally water at 68°F (20°C). The density of distilled
Chapter 3. m water at 68°F is 62.316 lbm /ft3, or at 20°C, 998 kg/m3.
W = The weight in force units Specific gravity thus provides a simple number that
A fluid is a substance that continues to deform when indicates whether a liquid is lighter or heavier than
subjected to a shear stress. Fluids can be liquids, gl = The local acceleration of gravity
vapors, or gases. For most fluids, some of the fluid Figure 2.2.a - Newton’s Second Law states force is equal to mass
properties can be calculated by knowing other times its acceleration. The value of earth’s gravity is slightly higher at the
poles and slightly lower at the equator due to the Specific gravity of liquids is generally obtained with
properties. hydrometers, instruments whose scales read in
Where: earth’s rotation. At 45° latitude, gl = gc, and the force
exerted by a Lbm is exactly a Lbf . specific gravities, degrees Baume (°B), or degrees API
There are five key fluid properties that must be known
(American Petroleum Institute).
to properly size and use a DP flow meter: density F = The force applied to or by an object
This concept is used to account for the weight of fluids
or specific weight, static pressure, temperature,
isentropic exponent and viscosity. These properties
m = The mass of the object in the energy equation (such as the elevation or “z” The reference fluid for specific gravity of gases is
factor into DP Flow calculations. a = The resulting acceleration of the object term in the Bernoulli flow equation), and in fluid statics air. Specific gravity of a gas is defined as the ratio of
when converting gravitational head to pressure, as is the molecular weight of the gas of interest to the
molecular weight of air (defined as 28.9644). This
2.2. FORCE, MASS AND To account for the force of gravity, a gravity conversion
constant gc is needed. Thus, Newton’s second law
done with the manometer.
method avoids the difficulty of calculating the gas
WEIGHT becomes:
2.3 DENSITY density based on temperature and pressure, as well
as accounting for the non-linear behavior of gases. As
long as the composition of a gas does not change, the
Property Symbol Units (2.1) ratio of molecular weight against that of a reference
Property Symbol Units
gas will remain the same regardless of temperature,
Mass m lbm , kg pressure, or location.
The SI unit of force is the Newton, N, and is the amount Density ρ lbm /ft2, kg/m2
of force needed to move a 1kg mass at an acceleration
Force F lbf , N of 1m/s2. So:
The density of a fluid is its mass per unit volume.
Note that for the same quantity of mass, the volume
When working with fluids in motion, it is important to (2.2) occupied by that mass will vary with temperature Property Symbol Units
review the physics behind the concept of force, mass, and pressure (see 2.9 Mass and Volumetric Flow).
and weight. The DP flow meter uses the concept of Fluctuations in density are typically small for liquids Pressure P psi, Pa
In SI units, gc = 1kg-m/(N-s2). Since the value of gc is 1, but is much greater for gases. Fluids whose densities
energy conversion to determine the rate of flow in a
this factor is often left out of force calculations using change slightly with moderate temperature and
pipe by measuring a physical difference in pressures.
the metric system. pressure fluctuations are considered incompressible. Pressure is the force acting on a surface in the normal
The US Customary unit of mass is the lbm and the SI If the density changes significantly with varying direction (i.e., perpendicularly) per unit area (figure
In imperial US units, the unit of force is the pound 2.2.4.a). The US unit of pressure is related by:
unit is the kilogram. They are related by: pressures and temperatures, it is considered a
force, lbf, and is the amount of force needed to move
1 pound mass, lbm, one foot at an acceleration of compressible fluid.
32.174 ft/s2. Thus:
For industrial gas measurement applications it is
Newton’s Second Law of Motion describes the common to use the Real Gas Law or the Ideal Gas where the lb /in is force and not mass.
relationship between force, mass and acceleration as: (2.3) Law. The Ideal Gas Law is applicable for moderate
temperatures and low pressures. It fails to account The SI unit of pressure is the Pascal and is equal to:
(2.1) for the interaction between gas molecules. When
Where: assumptions regarding the Ideal Gas Law do not
apply the Real Gas Law is applicable. See Chapter 4
for more information on density and compressibility Where:
N = Newton and is in units of kg-m/s2

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2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts 2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts

The Pascal is a very small unit of pressure and is 2.5.2 Differential Pressure Differential pressure can be calculated with a simple
Unknown Pressure
generally expressed in kPa (kiloPascals) or MPa relation:
(megaPascals). Another common SI unit of pressure is
the bar which is equal to 100 kPa. Property Symbol Units (2.6)
Ambient Fluid
Fluid of Interest (Atmospheric
(Gas in most cases) pressure in
Differential h
2.5.1 Absolute and Gage Pressure Pressure
ΔP or DP inH20 @ 68°F, inHg*, kPa, mbar The simplest of instruments used for the measurement
most cases)

*inches of mercury; can also be inches of water, alcohol, oil or other fluid
of a small difference in pressures is the manometer Reference Fluid
The absolute pressure is the pressure relative to a A manometer uses a U-shaped tube or two vertical Density p (Liquid,
perfect vacuum. The gage pressure is the pressure tubes connected at the bottom, with a liquid filling e.g., water or mercury)
relative to atmospheric pressure. Thus: When the difference in two pressures is needed,
as called for in DP Flow calculations, it is called the the tubes part-way (figure 2.5.2.b). When the two
differential pressure or DP (figure 2.5.2.a). pressures are applied at the top of each tube, the
(2.5) liquid in the two tubes change height, and a scale fixed Figure 2.5.2.b - Example of how a manometer works.
The SI unit for DP is Pa or kPa. to the manometer is used to measure the height or
The absolute pressure is used to compute the density elevation difference, h. The differential pressure is then
of gases. The gage pressure, since it is relative to calculated using the relation: Note that manometers and mechanical pressure
atmospheric pressure, is used to ensure that pressure The US unit for DP is psi or inches of water (inH2O) at gages are old technology. Current best practices
retaining parts (ie the pipe or parts of flow meters a specified temperature. The inches of water unit is a exploit electronic differential pressure and static
that retain the pressure when installed in the pipe) will carryover from the past where manometers were used pressure transmitters (figure 2.5.2.c), which provide
to measure flow rate and indicates the pressure at the (2.7)
remain within safe working limits. extremely accurate readings over very large ranges
bottom of a column of water of the specified height of pressure or DP, and can operate over a wide
when the water is at a specific temperature. As an range of ambient temperatures without external
example a DP of 25 inches H2O at 68°F means that this Where:
correction. The electronic signal output is easily fed
is the pressure at the bottom of a column of water that into microprocessors for calculating the flow rate or
is 25 inches high when the temperature of the water is ΔP = Differential pressure, in appropriate units
logging data.
Force Area a uniform 68°F. There are two commonly used versions gl = The local acceleration of gravity
of this unit inches H2O at 68°F (used in the US process
control industry) and inches H2O at 60°F (used in the
gc = Units conversion constant from mass to
US natural gas industry). The conversion factors in psi force
for each of these is: p m = The density of the manometer fluid
pf = The density of the fluid conveying the
Figure 2.5.1.a - Pressure is force acting perpendicularly on an
area. pressure
h = Elevation difference or height of the fluid
Standard atmospheric pressure is typically defined at the points of measure
as 1atm, or 14.69595 psi or101.325 kPa. Actual
Figure 2.5.2.c - Modern differential pressure transmitter.
atmospheric pressure at any given location depends This is a difference of 0.08% between the two reference The standard manometer fluid for gas flow DP
on that location’s elevation above sea level and day- temperatures, thus it is important to know the measurement is water, with the height indicated in
to-day weather conditions. Typically, changes in the reference temperature.
Standard orifice plate inches, and the DP expressed as “Inches of Water
atmospheric pressure due to weather are not used Column.” Of course, if water or other liquids are being
when calculating absolute pressure. However local measured, a heavier manometer fluid is needed.
standard atmospheric pressure–adjusted for elevation Typically, mercury (S.G. = 13.5), or bromide-based Property Symbol Units
–is used to determine the atmospheric pressure for fluids are used (S.G. = 2.5 to 3.0). Any fluid that is
purposes of measuring the flow rate. heavier than water could be used, but it must be Temperature T °C, °F, °K, °R
P2 “immiscible,” or unable to mix with the fluid in contact
The value of pressure for a flow meter application P1 with the manometer.
is used to provide information for two separate but
important engineering tasks:

• For the calculation of fluid parameters–

especially gas or vapor density and gas
expansion factor
• To check the compatibility and safety margins 1
More in-depth information can be found in The Engineer’s
for the mounting hardware Guide to Industrial Temperature Measurement,
Rosemount literature reference number 00805-0100-
Figure 2.5.2.a - Differential pressure. P1 has higher pressure than 1036 or go to

16 17
Rosemount Conditioning Nozzle
2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts 2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts

Industrial methods of measuring temperature

are based on substances that change electrical
Shear thinning 2.9 MASS AND VOLUMETRIC
resistance with temperature, such as RTDs (resistance τ = The shearing stress in the fluid, or the Bingham plastic
temperature detectors), or thermocouples that
force required to move the fluid against a
generates a voltage at the junction of dis-similar
Property Symbol Units

Shearing stress, τ
metals that is based on temperature. surface per unit area
= The change in velocity or “strain” between Volumetric
Outside of the engineering world, measurements are Qv 1/hr, m3/hr
the wall or surface and the free-stream Flow Rate
generally done on the relative Fahrenheit or Celsius μ
scales, which were originally devised to measure the velocity Mass Flow
Qm lb/hr, kg/hr
1 Rate
earth’s temperate range. However, flow engineering
problems require a different temperature scale, one γ dimension Shear thickening
that represents an absolute temperature. Absolute Volumetric flow is measured in terms of volume, as the
boundary plate name implies, yielding how much volume is passing
temperature has units of Kelvin in SI units and Rankine
(2D, moving) through a given area, as follows:
in US customary units. The relationships between velocity, ν
absolute temperature and the conventionally used δυ
shear stress,τ Rate of shearing strain, (2.12)
units of °F and °C are: δγ
δυ Figure 2.7.b - Fluid classification based on the behavior of
(2.8) fluid gradient, Mass flow is dependent on density and the volumetric
δγ viscosity, m.
flow rate, as follows:
459.67 (2.9)

The absolute temperature is required in the calculation boundary plate (2D, stationary)

of the fluid properties (i.e., density, viscosity and Figure 2.7.a - Viscosity defines the resistance to movement of a Volumetric flow and mass flow can be related by the
insentropic exponent). The calculation of thermal fluid. Property Symbol Units following:
expansion effects involves temperature differences so
it is common to use °F or °C. Every real fluid has viscosity, which changes primarily Velocity v ft/s, m/s
with temperature. For this reason, fluid viscosity is
Absolute zero Rankine and absolute zero Kelvin are
usually plotted against temperature, and equations are
equivalent. The Rankine scale increments by degrees Velocity is not a fluid property, but can be used to
developed that allow the calculation of viscosity once
Fahrenheit, while the Kelvin scale increments by predict the behavior of fluids in motion and will frame
the temperature is known. For a liquid, the viscosity
degrees Celsius. the application of DP flow meters. In general, velocity
decreases with temperature; for a gas, the viscosity
is the rate of change of an object’s position relative to
increases with temperature.
2.7 VISCOSITY a reference, and is equivalent to the specification of
speed and direction of an object. As applied to fluid (2.14)
Kinematic viscosity is the absolute viscosity divided by
the density of the fluid at the same temperature, or: dynamics, velocity defines the speed of a particle of
Property Symbol Units fluid with respect to a stationary reference such as a In other words, when the mass flow rate (units of
pipe. When a fluid flows around an object or through a mass/unit time) is divided by the density at reference
Absolute (2.11) pipe, the viscosity of the fluid creates a velocity profile.
μ centipoise (μcp), lbm/ft-s, kg/m-s conditions, the flow rate is equivalent to the volume
If there were no viscosity, the velocity of a flowing fluid the fluid would occupy if its pressure and temperature
Dynamic in a pipe would be uniform across a pipe section. With
ν centistokes Fluids are classified by the relationship between fluid were adjusted from the flowing conditions to reference
stress (the force needed to overcome viscosity) and the slightest of viscosity, however, shearing between conditions. So if the flowing pressure is 146.96 psia,
the strain (the fluid velocity). Figure 2.7.b shows the adjacent fluid particles produces a non-uniform the temperature is 68 °F, and the reference conditions
Absolute viscosity defines the resistance to movement plot for different types of fluids based on the behavior velocity profile in the pipe, with a velocity of zero at are 14.696 psia and 68°F when the mass flow rate is
of a fluid (figure 2.7.a). It is a measure of the resistance of μ. DP flow meters are restricted to “Newtonian” the pipe wall and maximum at the pipe centerline for converted to standard volume flow rate (by dividing
of fluid molecules to velocity change due to shear type fluids, or those where the slope of the fluid developed flow. by the density of the fluid at reference conditions)
stress. Stated differently, viscosity tends to resist one stress/strain curve (μ) is constant. Shear-thinning the numerical value will increase by a factor of 10.
particle from moving faster than an adjacent particle. Fluid flow in a pipe also defines a velocity field.
fluid viscosities decrease with increasing shear The flow of fluids through pipes has been studied The mass will remain the same, but in order for the
Absolute viscosity is defined as: stress; examples include ketchup, lava, or polymer pressure to be at 14.696 psia it must occupy 10 times
extensively and velocity fields can be predicted when
solutions and molten polymers. Shear thickening the rate of flow and fluid properties are known. the volume as it did under flowing conditions.
(2.10) (with viscosity increasing as shear stress increases)
include suspensions—corn starch in water for example.
Bingham plastics do not flow until a critical stress yield
is exceeded; examples of this type of fluid include

18 19
2 – Fluids Basics and Concepts

For a given quantity of liquid, mass does not change,

but volume can with changes in pressure and
temperature (figure 2.9.a).

40.9 gal 42.0 gal


20˚F 60˚F

342 lb 0.0% 342 lb

Figure 2.9.a - Mass does not change with fluctuations in pressure
and temperature, but volume can. This illustration depicts an
example of how much volume can change with temperature.

The measurement of mass flow is preferred for most

gases and liquids, while volumetric flow can be
acceptable for stable liquids. Flow meters suitable for
mass flow include multivariable DP flow meters or
Coriolis meters. Volumetric flow meters include DP
flow meters, turbine, vortex, magmeter, or variable
area meters.


As gases flow through a restriction in a pipe the
density changes due to pressure changes. The
expansion of the gas is assumed to be an isentropic
process and the effect of the density changes on the
flow rate can be determined theoretically for some
obstructions or empirically for others. The relevant
fluid property is the isentropic exponent of the gas,
designated by k (sometimes designated by g) and
primarily is a function of temperature. It is common
practice to determine k at a nominal temperature and
use this value for all flow rates. Typical values of k can
range from 1.0 to 1.4.

20 21
3 Theory of DP Flow


3.1 Introduction ............................................... 24

3.2 The Physics and Engineering of Fluids

and Flow ..................................................... 24

3.3 Developed and Undeveloped Flow ............ 24

3.4 Reynolds Number ....................................... 25

3.5 The Bernoulli Principle................................ 27

3.6 The DP Flow Equation ................................. 32

3.7 Types of Area Meters .................................. 33

3.8 Averaging Pitot Tubes................................. 35

3.9 Things to Consider ...................................... 40

3.10 Summary .................................................... 40

3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

3.1 INTRODUCTION 3.2 THE PHYSICS AND 3.4 REYNOLDS NUMBER As the velocity increases, this laminar condition
begins to change and the flow transitions. The layers
Chapter 3 covers the theoretical and computational ENGINEERING OF FLUIDS Reynolds Number, is an important non-dimensional breakdown into smaller eddies as the parabolic shape
details for DP Flow. Its purpose is two-fold: AND FLOW parameter used in fluid mechanics. It is defined as of the velocity profile begins to flatten. At higher
velocities, the laminar region exists only at the wall
the ratio of the inertial force of a fluid to the viscous
• Introduce industry users to some of the general The concepts used in DP Flow theory and calculations force. The Reynolds number allows modeling of a fluid and is very thin. The fluid throughout the rest of the
aspects of fluid flow and specifically DP Flow originate mainly in two areas of fluid mechanics: flow so that specific operational characteristics can be pipe becomes turbulent. Although, the velocity profile
technologies fluid kinematics, the study of fluids in motion; and indexed to a common value. Aerodynamicists use the flattens, the highest velocity is still at the center.
• Explain the underlying assumptions and fluid dynamics, the study of the effects of forces Reynolds number to allow the determination of how
approaches behind the engineering of due to fluid motion. The DP Flow equation is based Figure 3.4.a shows the profiles for the two types of
an aircraft will perform based on much smaller models
Rosemount DP Flow products on the conservation of energy, and applies to the flow. In Reynolds number values, the regimes are as
used in wind tunnels. For flow metering, the Reynolds
measurement of almost every type of fluid found in follows:
number is used to define a universal measuring range
Note that an in-depth understanding of the physical
industrial or commercial use. for all types of fluids. This ability greatly simplifies the • Re <2000 = laminar flow
relationships that affect DP Flow are useful in
evaluation, sizing, and use of flow meters. • Re 2000 ≤ 4000 = transition flow
helping technical personnel cover all the aspects in The advantages of using DP devices to measure flow
the engineering of a specific application, but is not rate include the simplicity of the sensing system, the • Re >4000 = turbulent flow
For flow through a pipe the Reynolds number is
required for the installation and daily operation of DP availability of many types of primary devices, the given by: The turbulent regime covers the majority of the
flow meters. What is important to understand is that ability to verify the measurement, and the wide range velocities seen for fluids used in industrial and
there is a great deal of complexity that exists under the of applications that are suitable for DP Flow. commercial flow. It is rare that piping is sized such that
surface of even the simplest application.
The challenges for using DP flow meters are overcome (3.1) flows to be read are in the laminar regime unless the
3.1.1 Available Resources by becoming familiar with the theory and operation of fluid has a high viscosity.
the devices used for DP Flow measurement.
There are many readily available resources that allow Where: V
engineers to resolve complexities. Among these average
resources are the following: 3.3 DEVELOPED AND ρ = Fluid density
• Application and sales engineering resources UNDEVELOPED FLOW D = Pipe diameter Turbulent
available from the vendor of a given product = Average fluid velocity
Re > 4000
• Industry training and discussion by both experts When evaluating the performance of flow meters Laminar flow
and in assessing their use in a potential application, μ = Absolute (dynamic) velocity of the fluid
Re < 2000
and peers at user group and formal workshop
sessions the condition of the velocity profile at the plane of
measurement should be considered. A flow rate is The flow through a pipe is characterized by ranges
• Software toolboxes and utilities usually of the Reynolds Number. The identification of these
developed by vendors and designed to considered “developed” when the velocity profile does
not change significantly as it travels downstream. DP ranges, or regimes, is the result of extensive studies by
streamline the engineering of a given application scientists and engineers researching the theory that
• A large body of technical articles and books on Flow calculations assume there is a developed flow. Figure 3.4.a - Flow profiles of laminar and turbulent flow.
Achieving developed flow requires either a sufficient fluids flowing in pipes go through a transition between
the subject low and high velocities. This transition causes a change
• Standards documents from standards length of straight piping, or devices installed upstream
that remove excessive turbulence or “straighten the in the velocity profile in a pipe, which greatly affects
organizations (ISO, ASME, AGA, etc) the dynamics of the fluid and the ability accurately to
flow.” Since most flow meters are primarily tested
The following chapters discuss the practical side of in developed flows, the potential effects on the measure the flow rate.
DP Flow — which technologies best serve a given performance of a meter must be considered separately The regime at very low Reynolds Numbers is referred
class of application (gases, liquids, steam), insight if the flow at the measuring plane is not developed. to as “Laminar” flow, where the fluid remains in layers.
into the hardware and software of available products The velocity increases consistently from the pipe wall
(transmitters, primary elements), and considerations Different types of flow devices are affected differently
by underdeveloped flows. Underdeveloped flow can to the pipe axis. The velocity profile for laminar flow is
for installation and use. represented by a parabola. In this case, fluid viscosity
result from additional turbulence in a pipe caused by
piping fittings and types of valves installed upstream plays a major role in driving the flow pattern to remain
of the measurement location. Because of this, in steady layers. See Figure 3.4.a.
manufacturers usually provide a chart that shows how
the flow meter device should be installed to achieve
the stated performance.

24 25
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

3.4.1 Calculating the Pipe While the density and viscosity can usually be found,
Reynolds Number the velocity is not typically on the specification sheet
for a flow meter. Instead the desired minimum and substitute 3.6 for V then simplify to base units:
The basic Reynolds number equation is described by a maximum flow rates are commonly given. It is possible
velocity, pipe ID, the fluid density, and viscosity. Since to calculate the Reynolds number using the flow rate
the Reynolds number is dimensionless, the units must rather than the velocity. We start with the area for a
circular pipe or duct: (3.7)
be given in a consistent mass, volume/length, and time
basis. The following base units are commonly used to
calculate the pipe Reynolds number for US and SI units:
(3.3) Standard Volume Flow:

Parameter US-CU Base Units SI Base Units

For units other than the base units, a conversion (3.8) Figure 3.4.2.a - Rosemount Annubar™ primary element remote-
Velocity ft/s m/s factor is needed. The following are the equations mounted in a non-circular duct.
for converting to the pipe average velocity, and
calculating the Reynolds Number:
Density lbm /ft3 kg/m3
Diameter ft m
Actual Volume Flow:
substitute 3.8 for V then simplify to base units:
In fluid dynamics, the Bernoulli Principle and the
Viscosity lbm/ft•s kg/m•s (3.4) equations derived from it are a special form of the
(3.9) conservation of energy equation first described
Volumetric Flow ft3/s m3/s mathematically by Leonhard Euler2 in 1757. This
principle is a collection of related equations whose
Mass Flow lbm/min kg/min Knowing Where: forms can differ for different kinds of flow. The basic
Bernoulli Equation for steady, incompressible flow is:
Table 3.4.1.a - Reynolds Number Base units. substitute 3.4 for V then simplify to base units: Qs = Standard volume flow rate
ρb = Density at standard conditions
The poise is the unit of measurement for absolute (3.11)
viscosity, also known as dynamic viscosity and is (3.5)
3.4.2 Special Case: Non-Circular Ducts
commonly measured using centipoise (cP) in US units
and Pa·s in the SI system of measurement. To convert For non-circular ducts (Figure 3.5.2.a), the hydraulic Where:
to the viscosity units shown above use: Where: diameter is used in place of pipe diameter. This is
defined as 4 times the cross-sectional area divided by ρ = Density of the fluid
Qv = Actual volumetric flow rate the wetted perimeter. The equation is:
p = Pressure of the fluid
ρ = Fluid density
g = Local gravitational constant
μ = Dynamic viscosity of the fluid
(3.10) z = Height above a datum
or D = Pipe ID
Vs = Velocity of the fluid in the streamline
Mass Flow: Where: This equation applies to a fluid that is moving along a
To convert from to Multiply by
“streamline” (denoted as “s”), a continuous path that is
cP kg/m•s 1 x 10-3 DH = Hydraulic diameter followed. All changes in the fluid will only occur along
(3.6) A = Duct wetted area the streamline, and no fluid will flow out of or into the
streamline. For the application of this concept to fluid
cP lbm/ft•s 6.7197 x 10-4 P = Duct wetted perimeter
meters, where the fluid is flowing in a conduit or pipe,
H = Duct height (span) the pipe is the streamline. For steady-state conditions
Table 3.4.1.b - Units conversions. Where: W = Duct width with developed flow, this one-dimensional model is
sufficient to describe the flow field in a pipe.
Q m = Actual volumetric flow rate
For introduction, see Chapter 1, “Bernoulli.”
Swiss physicist and mathematician, 1707-1783. He
ρf = Fluid density created much of the mathematical terminology and
notation used today in addition to his work in mechanics,
fluid dynamics, astronomy, and optics.

26 27
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

The Bernoulli Equation acts as the operating equation Where:

for DP Flow. It is the transfer function between the
Constant Energy Line P1
3.5.1 Deriving the DP Flow Equation
(P 1 P2)
input: the flow rate and fluid condition, and the P2 Beginning with Bernoulli’s equation: D = Inside diameter of the pipe
output: the differential pressure. The benefit of the
Bernoulli Equation is that it is simple, well defined, and
d = Inside diameter of the restriction
accepted in the engineering community as a viable Re-writing Equation 3.14 and substituting Equation
1 p, V 1, A 1
p, V 2, A 2
(3.12) 3.18 and 3.19 for A1 and A2,
method for measuring fluid flow. 2

For flow metering, the flow of fluid must be considered

“steady-state,” meaning that there is no appreciable And re-writing where z = h for height, the equation
Arbitrary Datum Plane Z1 Z2
becomes: (3.20)
change in the rate or conditions while measurements
are made. While these conditions might seem Figure 3.5.a - Typical energy and flow diagram for a restriction
restrictive, in reality most fluid systems are designed in a pipe.
(3.15) Combining with 3.17 and substituting in Equation
to operate at a steady state with changes occurring
To determine the flow rate in mass/time or volume/ 3.20, the resulting equation relates the velocity at the
slowly to prevent excessive pressure transients or
time the continuity equation must be used which restriction to a differential pressure:
vibration in the system.
Kinetic Energy
assures that mass is conserved (Eqn 3.13):
For an energy balance, the assumption is that no heat Potential Energy
is added to the system and no work is done to or by (3.13)
the system. Of course work is done to the fluid by 1 2 1 2 (3.21)
pumps and fans. However when the system boundary P1 + 2 pV1 + pgh1 = P2 + 2 pV2 + pgh2
is drawn around the meter, it is a good approximation For an incompressible fluid, For an incompressible
to eliminate the system energy terms. In the applied fluid, p1 = p2, and the continuity equation becomes: Pressure Energy
form for fluid flow, the Bernoulli Equation represents Figure 3.5.1.a - Categorization of the energy terms in the To calculate a volumetric flow rate multiply both sides
an energy transformation at two points in the fluid Bernoulli equation..
of the equation by the area of the restriction:
flow stream. In this description, Point 1 records the
higher pressure; point 2 records the lower pressure When it’s assumed the fluid is flowing horizontally
(Figure 3.5.a), due to a transformation of energy from To reach the above form of the continuity or Bernoulli’s and there is no change in height, the potential energy
potential (pressure) to kinetic (velocity) energy. equation, some assumptions were made: terms are equal:
If Bernoulli’s Equation is applied to two points along • Steady flow – the equations represent constant
the same stream line: velocity flow (3.16)
• Negligible viscous effects – represents a fluid
with perfect uniformity while flowing and a Combined with the continuity equation (Equation To calculate a mass flow rate, multiply both sides of the
consistent flow profile. 3.15) and rearranged: velocity equation by the density:
• No work is added to the system – Bernoulli’s
equation was derived from an energy balance on
a system boundary around the meter. (3.17)
When an energy balance is applied around the area • Incompressible fluid – it is assumed that density
change or restriction within the pipe, the equation remains constant across the streamline. (3.23)
becomes: • Negligible heat transfer effects – the simplified
Assuming density is constant:
Bernoulli energy balance excludes frictional
effects which create local energy transfer in the
(3.12) form of heat. (3.14) Equations 3.22 and 3.23 are the theoretical mass and
volumetric flow equations based on the assumptions
listed in section 3.5. These are not representative of
And with a circular pipe and a circular restriction (for
real-world fluid interactions. As a result two correction
The equation shows the sum of the energy terms example, an orifice plate),
factors were developed, the discharge coefficient Cd
going into the restriction at point 1 must equal the
and the gas expansion factor Y1.
sum of the energy terms after the restriction at point
2. (3.18) The discharge coefficient, Cd corrects for the following

• No viscous effects
(3.19) • No heat transfer
• Pressure taps at ideal locations

28 29
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

The Gas Expansion Factor corrects for gas density Assume that an orifice plate is installed in a flow lab Once all of the data is collected, an equation can be This is shown in the below lab test case (Figure 3.5.4.a)
changes as a gas flows through a restriction. so that a steady flow of water can be collected in a developed to fit the curve of the data, as represented using the discharge coefficient from Figure 3.5.3.b:
weigh tank. A flow calculation based on the theoretical by the black line in Figure 3.5.3.b. This equation can
3.5.2 Beta Ratio equation shows that a total 1000 pounds of water then be used to predict the discharge coefficient of 90.0 lb

flowed through the orifice plate during the test period any geometrically similar primary element. In this
Instead of a “restriction,” this type of meter can be and was collected in the tank. way, the equation serves as a calibration constant
called an “area” meter, as the meter is based on a so that primary elements of similar construction do
change in area. For convenience, the ratio “d/D” is not need to each be calibrated in a laboratory. The
called “Beta”, or “β.” The term “d4/D4” would then uncertainty for this variable can then be determined
be β4. Area meters such as orifice plates or venturis as shown by the orange dotted line in Figure 3.5.3.b.
are defined by Beta, and the result of calibrations is The uncertainty of a curve that is fitted to data is done
classified by the type of area meter. To further simplify using the Standard Estimate of the Error (SEE), which is
the flow equation, the term for Beta replaces the the standard deviation of the data sample referenced
diameter ratio: 1000.0 lb to the calculated (curve) values.
Cd Y1 = 54.1 = 0.601


The parameter: is defined as “E,” sometimes 54.1 lb

607 lb

called the velocity of approach, so that the equation

simplifies to: Figure 3.5.4.a - Flow lab set-up for one gas expansion data point
Figure 3.5.3.a - Flow lab set-up for one discharge coefficient data using air flow.
(3.25) In this example, the lab testing for the gas expansion
However, during the same period, the weigh tank factor determines that 90 lbs should be collected
actually collected 607 pounds of water (Figure according to the theoretical equation and 54.1 lbs was
Figure 3.5.3.b - The curve fit and uncertainty of the discharge
This is still the theoretical equation for incompressible 3.5.3.a). This means that the discharge coefficient actually collected. The 54.1 lbs represents the mass
coefficient data collected.
flow, as it does not account for energy losses for a real (Equation 3.31) for this orifice plate was 0.607 at the flow including the discharge coefficient and the gas
fluid. When the discharge coefficient is added to the steady flow rate that was observed. This discharge expansion factor.
equation, it is called the “Actual Mass Flow Equation for coefficient represents just one data point on the graph 3.5.4 The Gas Expansion Factor (Y1)
an incompressible flow” and is: in Figure 3.5.3.b. Thus:
The gas expansion factor is also derived from
laboratory testing where a gaseous fluid (typically
air) can be used to generate a known flow rate. The
(3.26) c (3.27) reason the incompressible fluid assumption does not (3.29)
hold true in actual flowing conditions is because as a
gas flows through a restriction, there is a decrease in
3.5.3 The Discharge Coefficient (Cd) Since the discharge coefficient for most primary
pressure which results in the expansion of the gas and Since the same pipe and beta ratio was used for this
elements varies with Reynolds number, this test is test, Cd= 0.607. Solving for Y1 is now possible.
a decreased density, so ρ1 ≠ρ2. With a lowered density,
The discharge coefficient is dependent on the Reynolds done over a range of Reynolds numbers to determine
the velocity will be slightly higher than predicted by
Number, and the value approaches a constant as the the Cd vs. Re curve, or the meter characteristic. For
the theoretical flow equation.
Reynolds number approaches infinity. A given meter area meters the same curve is also determined for
type, Beta, and Reynolds number value will generate a various beta ratios. This body of data characterizes Since:
unique discharge coefficient. Discharge coefficients are the discharge coefficient over a wide range of possible
determined in the flow laboratory where an actual flow flow conditions for a range of area ratios, or Beta. This
rate and the fluid conditions are known for a defined will result in hundreds or thousands of data points (3.28) For gas or vapor flows, the density is determined at
flow field. The following example illustrates how this depending on the extent of the parameters to be the upstream tap. For liquid flows, Y1 = 1.000. Figure
factor is determined. tested. 3.5.4.b below shows a plot of the expansion factor vs.
the ratio ∆P : Pabs for gases with a ratio of specific heats
= 1.4 for the typical concentric, square-edged orifice
plate. The gas expansion factor is plotted this way
because the slight change in density is proportional to
the percent change in line pressure.

30 31
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

ΔP The flow equation is simplified to become: Standard orifice plate Venturi For a DP flow meter, there are two primary design
Pabs drivers:
Gas Expansion Factor

0 0.025 0.05 0.075 0.1 0.125 0.15

1 (3.34) 1. The geometry of the meter – including the pipe,
Uncertainty of the
Gas Expansion Factor
the location and size of the openings to measure
the DP signal (called the “taps”), and the
Rosemount Conditioning Nozzle
condition of the components that make up the
Orifice Plate meter.
0.97 Q m = Mass flow
0.96 N = Units conversion factor 2. The discharge coefficients assigned to the
appropriate meter geometry.
CD = Discharge coefficient

Figure 3.5.4.b. - After data is collected a line can be fit and the
Y1 = Gas Expansion Factor Primary elements such as the orifice plate or venturi
uncertainty of the gas expansion factor determined. E = Velocity of approach Figure 3.6.1.a - Types of area meters, also known as throated shown in Figure 3.6.1.a have been tested and many
standards have been created to establish the value of
d2 = Bore diameter of differential producer meters, include Conditioning and standard orifice plates, nozzles,
the discharge coefficients and design requirements for
Because the calculated flow rate depends on Cd and and venturis.
ΔP = Differential pressure fabricating and installing an orifice plate. These efforts
Y1 and these factors depend on the flow rate, it is
necessary to re-calculate the flow rate, and then
ρ = Density Each meter will have different levels of energy loss, resulted in equations that were derived from series of
calculate new values for Cd and Y1, or iterate, until the so the values of the discharge coefficient will be calibrations for a range of pipe sizes and beta ratios
Based on Bernoulli’s equation and an energy balance to allow the calculation of the discharge coefficient.
difference between subsequent calculations is small. different. Figure 3.6.1.b shows the values of Cd for
(Continuity Equation), this is the basic flow equation Different types of Cd prediction equations have been
three throated primary elements plotted against the
that uses the physical fluid properties mentioned developed with varying degrees of success. Because
3.6 The DP Flow Equation above. d2, E, are geometrical terms and are
pipe Reynolds Number. When the primary meter
calibration factor is plotted over the operating range, it the orifice plate is the simplest, least expensive and
determined by the primary element geometry. Cd, Y1 easiest to retrofit and maintain, it is the most widely
By adding the discharge coefficient and gas expansion is called the “signature curve” of the meter. Note that
are empirical terms and are calculated using the test- used. Each primary element type has a slightly
factor, the flow equation now can accurately calculate the venturi shown in the figure approximates the path
derived equations either for a fixed set of flow equation different flow coefficient, but the equation used to
flow applications. Recall the theoretical mass flow taken by the streamlines of the flow. For this reason,
parameters, or when a microprocessor-based flow calculate the flow rate is the same.
equation: there is little energy loss, so the value of the discharge
computer is used, are continuously calculated DP, and
coefficient is nearly 1.00. The nozzle has more energy
ρ vary with changing process conditions such as flow,
temperature, and pressure.
loss as the streamlines separate from the walls, but the 3.7 Types of Area Meters
orifice has the most because it is an abrupt change in
There are many design variations of the primary
area that creates more turbulence in the fluid.
3.6.1 Difference Between Empirical and elements shown above. These variations allow the
application of DP Flow to fluid and process conditions
Geometric Terms Area Meter Discharge Coefficient that would not be possible with standard designs. In
For Venturi, Orifice Plate and Flow Nozzle
1.05 every case, the modification to the standard design
Substituting: As mentioned above d and E are geometric terms
will use the same basic Bernoulli equation form, but
that change depending on the primary element with a modified discharge coefficient and expansion

Discharge Coefficient
geometry. Orifice plates, venturis, and flow nozzles are factor (for compressible flows). These types of primary
considered area-change primary elements. Averaging elements include Rosemount Conditioning Orifice
(3.32) pitot tubes use a velocity calculated by measuring the Venturi Tube
Plates, standard orifice plates, venturis, and nozzles.
stagnation pressure (see section 3.8 for details). Flow Nozzle
Orifice Plate
Please see Chapters 8 and 9 for more information on
Orifice Plate
Flow Nozzle
0.70 the types of primary elements available.
The Bernoulli equation is used to calculate the velocity
And at an area change in a pipe or conduit. This form is
used for DP meters based on an area change, also
called “area meters,” including orifice plates, flow 0.50
(3.33) nozzles, and venturi meters. 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 10,000,000
Pipe Reynolds Number, RD
Figure 3.6.1.b - Discharge coefficient curves for three types of DP
flow meters.

32 33
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

3.7.1 Standard Orifice Plates Each standards organization continuously examines Rosemount Conditioning Orifice flow meters follows
the equation structure to be used for their standard, the intent of three main standards, ISO 5167/ASME
As discussed in Chapter 1, the type of flow meter most usually when more data becomes available or a new MFC 3M and AGA Report Number 3. See Table 3.8.3.I
often specified for industrial flow is the orifice plate analysis of the original data has been completed. Even Profile for details of compliance and deviations from the
(Figure 3.7.1.a). The diameter of the orifice bore or For example, the ASME MFC-3M committee in 2004 Even Profile
throat is less than the diameter of the pipe, creating updated its equation structure to one virtually
pressure differential as it restricts flow. As with all identical to ISO 5167. 3.8 Averaging Pitot Tubes
differential pressure producing flow meters, the Figure 3.7.3.b - Illustration of how the four holes in the
underlying theoretical principle for orifice flow meters 3.7.3 Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate conditions irregular flow Pitot tubes calculate velocity by measuring the
is Bernoulli’s Equation, while the calculation of actual Plates profiles to provide accurate flow measurement with little straight pressure created by the fluid impact of the fluid on the
flow rates depend on the addition Cd and Y1 terms to run.
pitot tubes. If the pressure at the low static pressure
the equation. The Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate design tap is considered to be the pipe or conduit static
is an orifice plate with four bores (Figure 3.7.3.a.) The four holes in the plate are placed equally around pressure, the DP is called the dynamic pressure of the
Note that the discussion in the next section is generic The primary purpose of this type of orifice is to the plate center. When a kinetic energy balance is done fluid. This form is used for the pitot tube, invented
and applicable to square-edge concentric orifice condition the flow being measured. This self- at the conditioning orifice plate and the continuity and first used by Henri de Pitot in 1784. The modern
plates. The discussion of other orifice geometries is in conditioning eliminates the need to install separate equation is applied, the result requires the rate of incarnation of the pitot tube is the Averaging Pitot
Chapter 8. flow conditioners or the need for, in some cases, 40+ the flow through the four holes to be the same. This Tube, or APT. The purpose of the APT is to measure the
diameters of straight run after a flow disturbance pattern forces a distribution of the flow through the flow rate in a pipe or duct by measuring the velocity
dictated by the standards mentioned above. holes, creating a consistent downstream dynamic pressure over the diameter of the pipe and average the
even when the upstream fluid velocity distribution results.
is highly asymmetric or cyclonic. Since most of the
orifice DP signal is created downstream, the COP
provides equivalent results when installed in very close
proximity to typical piping components or long runs
of straight pipe. This removes the requirement for a
flow conditioner to provide high performance in short
straight pipe runs.

Category 1595 and 405C Conditioning Orifice Plate Technology

Total Straight Pipe Run Diameters 1595 and 405C ASME MFC 3M AGA Report Number 3 ISO 5167
Upstream (in Pipe Diameters) 2 Up to 54 Up to 95 Up to 60
Figure 3.7.1.a - Standard orifice plate. Downstream (in Pipe Diameters) 2 Up to 5 Up to 4.2 Up to 7
Not Reqired. All three standards sometimes require flow conditioners to shorten
Flow Conditioners
3.7.2 ISO, ASME, and AGA Standards required straight pipe run.
Provide a Basis for Calculating Figure 3.7.3.a - Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate showing Pressure Taps
Flange Taps Complies with all three standards
Discharge Coefficients its characteristic four holes orthogonally arranged around the
center. Corner Taps Complies with ASME and ISO. Corner taps not included in AGA Report Number 3
D and D/2 In development
Three major standards have been written to define O-Plate Thickness
the Cd and Y1 coefficients, as well as the detailed The Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate (COP) 2’’ to 4’’ Complies with all three standards
construction, installation requirements and technology is based on the same Bernoulli equation 6’’ Complies with ASME and ISO. Thicker than AGA Report Number 3
as is used for standard orifice plates. As a result, the 8’’ to 20’’ Complies with all three standards
uncertainty factors. They are ISO 5167 Parts 1-4 from
the International Organization for Standardization; Conditioning Orifice Plate follows the same general Beta Area of 4 holes = Area of same β for standard oriface of all three standards.1
ASME MFC-3M from the American Society of discharge coefficient versus Reynolds number
Mechanical Engineers; and AGA Report No. 3 for relationship as ISO 5167 designed orifice plates with a All other plate dimensions (including
Natural Gas and Hydrocarbon fluids from the American slight shift in value depicted by the calibration factor angle of bevel, bore thickness (e), etc.) Complies with all three standards
Gas Association. (Fc).
Surface Finish Complies with all three standards
Many independent test laboratories both public and Discharge Coefficient Uncertainty Follows ISO 5167.2
private have contributed to the test data to correlate
Reynolds Number, discharge coefficient, and gas Expansion Factor Follows ISO 5167.
expansion factor. 1
At Schedule Standard
Follows ISO 5167 with a bias shift – the bias is determined from previous test or is determined by lab calibration by request

Table – Comparison of the Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate to single-hole concentric orifice plates.

34 35
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

A pitot tube measures only a point velocity. Unless When compared to a single-point pitot tube, the
the velocity profile is known or the flow is considered following are the important distinctions for the
well developed, a single velocity measurement will not Rosemount Annubar APT:
represent an average velocity needed to calculate an
accurate flow rate. A pitot traverse, a procedure which 1. The velocity profile is sampled at the slots or
involves moving the pitot tube across the pipe or duct holes in the front of the tube, which is installed
while taking samples, can be done to improve the across the pipe. This is equivalent to a
accuracy of the measurement. “continuous pitot-traverse.” Bullet Shape Round Shape
2. The fluid that comes to rest (or stagnates) in
Impact Pressure front of each slot or hole creates a pressure
Static Pressure that represents the velocity at that point in the
Fluid Flow
Sensing Ports velocity field. In addition, the opening at the
front of the pitot tube must be perpendicular
to the fluid velocity vector to achieve a proper
stagnation pressure.
High (Impact)
Pressure Tap 3. The pressure sensed at the top of the Annubar
Figure 3.8.b - The Rosemount Annubar 485 averaging pitot tube APT front chamber is the averaged stagnation
Low (Static) Pressure Tap
design. pressure for the sampling slots or holes.
Figure 3.8.a - Pressure points for a single point pitot tube.
4. The rear chamber measures the pressure at Scallop Shape Scallop Shape
the rear of the tube, or the suction pressure. Figure 3.8.d - Various averaging pitot tube sensor shapes. The
The average velocity can be calculated from these This pressure will be below the pipe static above shapes can result in weaker DP signal strengths due to lack
pressure due to the fact that for real fluids in the of a separation point.
sample values. The sampling locations provide Stagnation

positions in a pipe or duct so that the average velocity FLOW turbulent flow regime, separation of the
can be obtained.
Zone fluid from the element has occurred. This is The Rosemount 485 Annubar T-shape has a flat
advantageous because the DP signal is higher upstream surface which creates a fixed separation
The averaging pitot tube (APT) was developed to than that obtained with a standard pitot. point (Figure 3.8.e), resulting in a strong DP signal.
provide a faster method to obtain a velocity average. Additionally, the T-shape design includes frontal slots
Figure 3.8.b depicts a Rosemount 485 Annubar Figure 3.8.c - Depiction of how vortices are shed off the Rose- The pressure sensed at the top of the rear chamber is (Figure 3.8.f) which capture more of flow profile for a
mount Annubar sensor. The Rosemount Annubar T-shape design the average suction pressure. However in most cases, more comprehensive averaging and higher accuracy.
averaging pitot tube. The main benefits of an APT over
has a flat upstream surface which creates a fixed separation
a traditional area meter such as a nozzle or an orifice the pressure created behind the tube is nearly the The fixed separation point also creates a stagnation
point. This improves the performance over a wider flow range
plate are: over other APT sensor designs as well as stabilize the low pressure same across the pipe diameter due to the span-wise zone (Figure 3.8.c) in the back of the T-shape, which
measurement. vortex-shedding or separation of the flowing fluid from stabilizes the low pressure measurement for overall
1. The APT can be installed through a pipe the element. less signal noise.
coupling which requires less welding and
expense. The sensor shape design of averaging pitot tubes varies
2. The APT can be “hot-tapped,” or installed while greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and can
the pipeline is under pressure. have a great deal of impact. Generally, sensor shapes
3. The APT creates a much lower permanent such as the bullet shape, round, scalloped or ellipse
pressure loss than a typical area meter. shapes (Figure 3.8.d) will perform more poorly over a
flow range, especially at lower Re numbers because the
Low Pressure Ports
Primary element selection is covered in more detail in signal strength of the DP signal is weaker with no fixed
Chapters 8 and 9. separation point.

Figure 3.8.e - Cutaway of the Rosemount Annubar T-shaped sen-

sor. Holes in the backside of the Rosemount 485 Annubar T-Shape
average the low pressure measurement.

36 37
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

Mulitplying the velocity by the cross-sectional area of Where:

the pipe the theoretical volumetric flow equation is Sensor Size Probe Width
obtained: N = Units conversion factor and
1 0.59 in
K = Averaging pitot tube flow coefficient
Y1 = Averaging pitot tube gas expansion factor
1.06 in
D = Pipe diameter
ΔP = Differential pressure 3 1.935 in
ρ = Density
And multiplying by flowing density to obtain the
Table - Rosemount 485 Probe Widths for each available
theoretical mass flow equation: 3.8.2 Flow Coefficient, K, for Averaging sensor size. Probe width is dimension d in Figure 3.8.2.a
Frontal Slot
Pitot Tubes
Once the blockage is known, the K factor can be
(3.39) The K factor has to be determined by extensive calculated.
laboratory testing, similar to that of the discharge
Figure 3.8.f - The 485 Annubar T-Shape APT design includes fron- coefficient for orifice plates. Empirical equations have For a blockage, B, ≤0.25 use the following K factor
tal slots that average the high pressure side measurements been created to calculate the K factor based on the equation and C1 and C2 values from Table
Simplifying to: test data. To calculate the K factor for an averaging
For more information on averaging pitot tubes please pitot tube, it is common to start from a function
see Chapter 8, DP Flow Primary elements, or Chapter of blockage. Blockage is the ratio of the area of the
9 for the Rosemount Annubar averaging pitot tube (3.40) averaging pitot tube to the area of the pipe.

Again the theoretical equations are based on the For a blockage, B >0.25 use equation 3.45 below and
3.8.1 Averaging Pitot Tube Flow following assumptions:
• No viscous effects And substituting terms shown in figure 3.8.2.a (B is the
Recall Bernoulli’s equation assuming a horizontal pipe: • No heat transfer (3.45)
blockage factor and is unitless)
• Incompressible fluid

(3.35) For averaging pitot tubes the flow coefficient (K)

(3.43) Sensor Size C1 C2 C3
corrects for the following assumptions:

For pitot style DP meters, the velocity at the sensing • Negligible viscous effects 1 -1.515 1.4229 5.3955
• Negligible heat transfer D
port is stagnated, meaning the velocity V2, is actually
zero simplifying the equation to: • Pressure taps at ideal locations d 2 -1.492 1.4179 —

The gas expansion factor corrects for the —

3 -1.5856 1.3318
incompressible fluid assumption. a =d xD
π 2 Table - Constants for determining the flow coefficient for
So the full flow equation for averaging pitot tubes A= D the Rosemount 485 Annubar primary element. Where C1, C2, and
becomes: 4
And solving for velocity, V1: C3 are constants that are determined empirically based on the
sensor width and shape. The values shown are applicable to the
(3.41) Rosemount 485 Annubar primary element.

Figure 3.8.2.a - Cross section of pipe with averaging pitot tube
installed, showing terms of the blockage equation.

38 39
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

3.8.3 Gas Expansion Factor for The other option is to utilize multivariable transmitters Note that an in-depth understanding of the physical 3.10.3 Reynolds Number
Averaging Pitot Tubes with the ability to calculate flow specifically the relationships that affect DP Flow are useful to help
Rosemount 3051SMV. Rosemount Engineering technical personnel to cover all the bases in the Reynolds number is an important non-dimensional
The gas expansion factor for averaging pitot tubes is Assistant is a PC-based software program used for engineering of a flow measurement, but is not parameter used in fluid mechanics. It is defined as
calculated slightly differently than area meters such configuring Rosemount MultiVariable™ devices required for the installation and daily operation of DP the ratio of the inertial force of a fluid to the viscous
as orifice plates. It is a function of blockage, DP, static with mass flow output. In addition to being able flow meters. There are many readily available resources force. The Reynolds number allows modeling of a fluid
line pressure, and the ratio of specific heats. Again, this to configure and calibrate the device, Engineering that allow engineers in charge of DP Flow projects to flow so that specific operational characteristics can be
factor is determined by laboratory testing. Assistant also performs configuration of the mass flow resolve complexities, including the following: indexed to a common value.
equation inside the transmitter. This software makes
The equation for the gas expansion factor of the setting up a compensated flow equation simpler than • Engineering expertise available from the vendor 3.10.4 The Bernoulli Principle
Rosemount Annubar primary elements is as follows – manually setting up the flow equation in the control of a given product
note this form requires the pressure and differential system. This is because the configuration of the flow • Industry training and discussion by both experts In fluid dynamics, the Bernoulli Principle and the
pressure to be in the same units: equation all happens within Engineering Assistant and and peers at user group and formal workshop equations derived from it is a form of the conservation
the flow calculation is done with the transmitter. The sessions of energy. It is in actuality a collection of related
user only needs to enter their basic flow meter and • Software toolboxes and utilities usually equations whose forms can differ for different kinds of
(3.46) process information to configure their transmitter for developed by vendors and designed to flow.
fully compensated mass or energy flow. streamline the engineering of a given flow
measurement The Bernoulli Equation acts as the operating equation
Where: Engineering Assistant can be used as a “Stand-Alone” • A large body of technical articles and books on for DP Flow — that is, the transfer function between
Windows based program, or as a SNAP-ON to AMS the subject the input: the flow rate and fluid condition, and the
(covered in detail in Chapter 7). The SNAP-ON version
Y a = Gas expansion factor for an averaging output: the differential pressure. The benefit of the
runs within AMS, while the stand-alone version can be 3.10.1 The Physics and Engineering of Bernoulli Equation is that it is simple, well defined, and
pitot tube run without an AMS installation. Fluids and Flow accepted in the engineering community as a viable
Y1 = Adiabatic gas expansion factor method for measuring fluid flow.
(0.3142329) A common error in DP Flow installations is performing The concepts used in DP Flow theory and calculations
a double square root, or taking the square root of the
Y2 = Pressure ratio factor (0.09483556)
Differential Pressure in the flow equation in both the
originate mainly in two divisions of fluid mechanics: 3.10.5 Beta Ratio
fluid kinematics, the study of fluids in motion; and fluid
B = Blockage factor of averaging pitot tube transmitter and in the control system. The square root dynamics, the study of the effects of forces due to fluid Some DP flow meters are called “area” meters,
ΔP = Differential pressure should only be taken once, either in the control system motion. The basic DP Flow equation is based on the because the flow calculation is based on a change in
Pf = Static line pressure or in the transmitter. conservation of energy. area. For convenience, the ratio “d/D” is called “Beta,”
γ = Ratio of specific heats
3.10 SUMMARY or “β.” Area meters such as orifice plates or venturis
3.10.2 Developed and Undeveloped are defined by Beta.
Note ∆P and Pf must be in the same units of measure
Chapter 3 has focused on the theoretical and
for pressure so that Ya will be unitless.
computational details for DP Flow, with a two-fold
3.10.6 Discharge Coefficient
The condition of the velocity profile at the plane
3.9 THINGS TO CONSIDER purpose: of measurement is necessary for the evaluation of The discharge coefficient is dependent on the Reynolds
flow meters and their applications. A flow rate is number. A given primary element, Beta, and Reynolds
1. Introduce industry users to some of the many
3.9.1 Computational Software aspects of fluid flow in general and of DP Flow
considered “developed” when the velocity profile does number value will generate a unique discharge
not change significantly as it travels downstream. coefficient. Discharge coefficients are determined
technologies specifically
Flow computers are often used to calculate flow Achieving developed flow requires either a sufficient in the flow laboratory where an actual flow rate and
2. Explain the underlying assumptions and
utilizing the variables from the DP Flow installation length of straight piping, or devices installed upstream the fluid conditions are known. Once all of the data
approaches behind the engineering of
or other measurement points. Flow computers are that remove excessive turbulence or “straighten the is collected, an equation can be developed to fit the
Rosemount DP Flow products
configured to calculate the flow based on the fluid flow.” Since most flow meters are primarily tested curve of the data. This equation can then be used to
properties and installation specifics such as line size in developed flows, the potential effects on the predict the discharge coefficient of any geometrically
and process variables either from individual pressure performance of a meter must be considered separately similar primary element.
and temperature measurements or a multivariable if the flow at the measuring plane is not developed.
transmitter such as the Rosemount 4088 (see chapter
7 for details).

40 41
3 – Theory of DP Flow 3 – Theory of DP Flow

3.10.7 Gas Expansion Factor 3.10.11 ISO, ASME and AGA Standards 3.10.13 Averaging Pitot Tubes
Provide the Means for Calculating
The gas expansion factor is also derived from Discharge Coefficients The purpose of the averaging pitot tube is to measure
laboratory testing where a gaseous fluid (typically the flow rate in a pipe or duct by measuring the
air) can be used to generate a known flow rate. The Three major standards have been written to detail average differential pressure over the entire flow
reason the incompressible fluid assumption does not the Cd and Y1 coefficients, as well as the detailed profile.
hold true in actual flowing conditions is because as a construction, installation requirements and
gas flows through a restriction, there is a decrease in uncertainty factors. They are ISO 5167 Parts 1-4 from The Averaging Pitot Tube (APT) was developed to
pressure which results in the expansion of the gas and the International Organization for Standardization; provide a faster method to obtain a velocity average.
a decreased density, so ρ1 ≠ ρ2. With a lowered density, ASME MFC-3M from the American Society of Figure 3.9.b depicts a Rosemount 485 averaging pitot
this means the velocity will be slightly higher than Mechanical Engineers; and AGA Report No. 3 for tube. The main benefits of an APT are:
predicted by the theoretical flow equation. Natural Gas and Hydrocarbon fluids from the American
• The APT can be installed through a pipe coupling
Gas Association. Each standards organization
which requires less welding and material expense
3.10.8 The DP Flow Equation continuously examines the equation structure to
• The APT can be “hot-tapped,” or installed while
be used for their standard, usually when more data
By adding the discharge coefficient and gas expansion the pipeline is under pressure
becomes available or a new analysis of the original data
factor, the flow equation now can accurately calculate • The APT creates a much lower permanent
has been completed. For example, the ASME MFC-3M
flow rate. Refer to section 3.7 above to see how this pressure loss than a typical area meter
committee in 2004 updated its equation structure to
equation is simplified to become the following: one virtually identical to ISO 5167.
3.10.14 Flow Coefficient K for
3.10.12 Rosemount Conditioning Averaging Pitot Tubes
Orifice Plates The K factor has been determined by extensive
The Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate design laboratory testing, similar to that of the discharge
There have been standards created to establish the
coefficient for orifice plates. Empirical equations have
value of the discharge coefficients as well as the design is an orifice plate with four bores (refer to Figure
3.8.3.a). The primary purpose of this type of orifice been created to calculate the K factor based on the
requirements for fabricating and installing each type
test data. The K factor for an averaging pitot tube is a
of meter. is to condition the flow being measured within the
area. This self-conditioning eliminates the need to function of blockage and differs with differing types of
meters. See Section 3.8.2 for full details.
3.10.9 Types of Area Meters install separate flow conditioners or the need for 40+
diameters of straight run after a flow disturbance.
There are many variations of the basic types of DP area The Rosemount Conditioning Orifice Plate (COP) 3.10.15 Gas Expansion Factor for
meters, venturi, orifice plate, and flow nozzle. These technology is based on the same Bernoulli equation Averaging Pitot Tubes
different designs offer flexibility to allow the use of as is used for standard orifice plates. As a result, the
DP flow meters to various applications. In every case conditioning orifice plate follows the same general The gas expansion factor for averaging pitot tubes is
area meters will use the same basic Bernoulli equation discharge coefficient versus Reynolds number calculated slightly differently than area meters such
form, but with a modified discharge coefficient, and relationship as standard orifice plates with a slight shift as orifice plates. It is a function of blockage, DP, static
expansion factor (for compressible flows). These types in value, depending on the Beta ratio. line pressure, and the ratio of specific heats. Again, this
of primary elements include Rosemount Conditioning factor is determined by laboratory testing. See Section
Orifice Plates, standard orifice plates, venturis, and 3.8.3 for details.
nozzles. Please see Chapter 8 for more information on
the available types of primary elements.

3.10.10 Standard Orifice Plates

The type of primary element most often specified
in industry is the orifice plate. The diameter of the
orifice bore is less than the diameter of the pipe,
creating differential pressure as it restricts flow. As
with all Bernoulli Principle-based differential pressure
producing primary elements, the calculation of actual
flow rates depends on Cd and Y1.

42 43
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