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F1
Theory and Calibration Procedures
for the Use of a Rotameter
F.1 Nomenclature
A
f
= crosssectional area of the float
A
m
= annular area between the circumference of the float and the
inside circumference of the meter tube at that position
C = drag coefficient
C
m
= length which is characteristic of the physical system under
study (used to calculate Reynolds Number)
d = length which is characteristic of the physical system under
study
D
f
= diameter of the float
D
t
= diameter of the tube at the float position
g = local acceleration due to gravity
g
c
= dimensional constant
m
f
= mass of the float
M
m
= molecular weight of the metered gas
M
1
, M
2
, M
3
...etc.= value of molecular weight of the metered gas at conditions 1,
2, 3...etc.
Re = Reynolds Number
Re/C
m
= dimensionless factor defined by Equation F14
P
m
= absolute pressure of the metered gas
P
1
, P
2
, P
3
...etc. = values of absolute pressure at conditions 1, 2, 3...etc.
Q
m
= volumetric flow rate through the meter at conditions of
pressure (P
m
), temperature (T
m
), and molecular weight (M
m
)
R = universal gas constant
T
m
= absolute temperature of the metered gas
T
1
, T
2
, T
3
...etc. = values of absolute temperature at conditions 1, 2, 3...etc.
v = average gas velocity through the annular area of the meter
V
f
= volume of the float
µ = viscosity of flowing fluid (used to calculate Reynolds
Number)
Appendix
F
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F2
µ
m
= viscosity of the metered gas
ρ = density of flowing fluid (used to calculate Reynolds Number)
ρ
f
= density of the float
ρ
m
= density of the metered gas
F.2 Description of a Rotameter
The rotameter (Figure F1) is a variable area meter which consists of a vertical,
tapered, transparent tube containing a float. The float moves upward as the fluid
flow increases. A variable ring or annulus is created between the outer diameter
of the float and the inner wall of the tube. As the float moves upward in the
tube, the area of the annulus increases. The float will continue to move upward
until a pressure drop across the float, which is unique for each rotameter, is
reached. This pressure drop across the float is constant regardless of the flow
rate. Graduations are etched on the side of the tube so that an instantaneous
reading may be observed.
Figure F1. Rotameter.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F3
F.3 Development of Flow Equations
General Flow Rate Equations
A free body diagram of the forces acting upon the rotameter float is shown in
Figure F2. The weight of the float is equal to the force of gravity acting on the
float. The buoyant force is equal to the weight of the gas that is displaced by
the float. The drag force is equal to the frictional forces acting between the
float and the moving gas stream.
Figure F2. Forces acting upon a rotameter float.
Mathematically, these forces are as follows:
c
2
m f
2g
v ρ CA
force Drag =
c
f f
g
g ρ V
float of Weight =
c
m f
g
g ρ V
force Buoyant =
Where: A
f
= cross sectional area of the float
C = drag coefficient
g = local acceleration due to gravity
g
c
= dimensional constant
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F4
v = average gas velocity through the annular area of the
meter
V
f
= volume of the float
ρ
f
= density of the float
ρ
m
= density of the metered gas
When the forces acting in an upward direction exactly equal the force
acting in a downward direction, the float will remain stationary in the tube.
Equating these forces yields:
c
f f
c
m f
c
2
m f
g
g V
g
g V
2g
v CA ρ ρ ρ
= +
Cancelling like terms (g
c
) and rearranging yields:
2
v CA
g V  g V
2
m f
m f f f
ρ
ρ ρ =
Solving for v and factoring out V
f
and g from the first two terms yields:
(Eq. F1)
( )
2 1
ρ
ρ ρ
(
(
¸
(
¸
÷
=
m f
m f f
CA
g 2V
v
The area of the float is equal to 4 D
2
f
t , where D
f
is the diameter of the float.
Substituting 4 D
2
f
t for A
f
in Equation F1 yields:
(Eq. F2)
( )
2 1
(
(
¸
(
¸
t
÷
=
m
2
f
m f f
D C
g 8V
v
ρ
ρ ρ
Let C
m
equal ( )
2 1
t C 8 , where C
m
is called a meter coefficient and is dependent
on the drag coefficient. Substituting C
m
for ( )
2 1
t C 8 in Equation F2 yields:
(Eq. F3)
( )
2 1
(
(
¸
(
¸
÷
=
m
2
f
m f f
m
D
g V
C v
ρ
ρ ρ
Because the drag coefficient C is dependent on Reynolds Number, C
m
must
also be a function of Reynolds Number. Because the density of the gas flowing
in the rotameter is very small compared to the density of the float, it can be
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F5
ignored in the (
m f
ρ ρ ÷ ) term. Modifying the (
m f
ρ ρ ÷ ) term in Equation F3
yields:
(Eq. F4)
2 1
(
(
¸
(
¸
=
m
2
f
f f
m
D
g V
C v
ρ
ρ
The volumetric flow rate (Q,.) through the rotameter is equal to the product of
the velocity (v) and the annular area of the meter (A
m
). Substituting
m m
A Q for
v in Equation F4 yields:
2 1
(
(
¸
(
¸
=
m
2
f
f f
m
m
m
D
g V
C
A
Q
ρ
ρ
Rearranging terms and removing
2
f
D from the radical yields:
(Eq. F5)
2 1
(
¸
(
¸
=
m
f f
f
m m
m
g V
D
A C
Q
ρ
ρ
The density of the float
f
ρ is equal to the mass of the float (m
f
) divided by the
volume of the float. Substituting
f f
V m for
f
ρ in Equation F5 and cancelling
the V
f
’s yields:
(Eq. F6)
2 1
ρ
(
¸
(
¸
=
m
f
f
m m
m
gm
D
A C
Q
The density of the gas mixture passing through the meter (
m
ρ ) is equal to
m m m
RT M P , where P
m
is the absolute pressure at the meter, M
m
is the apparent
molecular weight of the gas mixture passing through the meter, R is the universal
gas constant, and T
m
is the absolute temperature of the gas mixture. Substituting
m m m
RT M P for
m
ρ in Equation F6 yields the general flow rate equation for a
rotameter:
(Eq. F7)
2 1
(
¸
(
¸
=
m m
m f
f
m m
m
M P
RT gm
D
A C
Q
Computation of Reynolds Number
Reynolds Number is defined as µ ρ vd , where v is the velocity flow, d is a
length which is characteristic of the physical system under study, ρ is the
density of the flowing fluid, and µ is the viscosity of the flowing fluid. When
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F6
calculating Reynolds Number for a gas flowing through a rotameter, the length
characteristic of the physical system ( d ) is the difference between the tube
diameter (D
f
) and the diameter of the float (D
r
). Therefore, Reynolds Number
may be calculated by using the following equation:
(Eq. F8)
( )
μ
ρ D D v
Re
f r
÷
=
The average velocity of flow through the rotameter is given by
m m
A Q where
m
Q is the volumetric flow rate through the meter and
m
A is the annular area
between the inside circumference of the tube at the float position.
Substituting
m m
A Q for v in Equation F8 yields:
(Eq. F9)
( )
µ
÷
=
m
f r m
A
D D Q
e R
ρ
The density of the flowing fluid ρ is equal to
m m m
RT M P , where
m
P is the
absolute pressure of the metered gas,
m
M is the apparent molecular weight of
the metered gas, R is the universal gas constant, and
m
T is the absolute
temperature of the metered gas.
Substituting
m m m
RT M P for ρ in Equation F9 yields:
(Eq. F10)
( )
m m
m m f r m
RT A
M P D D Q
e R
µ
÷
=
Adding the subscript m to the viscosity termµ in Equation F10 to denote the
viscosity of the metered gas yields the following equation, which is used to
calculate Reynolds Number for gas flow in a rotameter.
(Eq. F11)
( )
m m m
m m f r m
RT A
M P D D Q
e R
µ
÷
=
F.4 Common Practices in the Use of a Rotameter
for Gas Flow Measurement
It can be seen from Equation F7 that the volumetric flow rate through a
rotameter can be calculated when such physical characteristics as the diameter
and the mass of the float and the annular area of the meter at each tube reading
are known, providing measurements are made of the temperature, pressure, and
molecular weight of the metered gas. Before these calculations of the
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F7
volumetric flow rate can be made, data must be known about the meter
coefficient, C
m
. The meter coefficient being a function of Reynolds Number is
ultimately a function of the conditions at which the meter is being used. To
obtain data on the meter coefficient, the meter must be calibrated. However,
because of the ease involved in using calibration curves, common practice is to
use calibration curves to determine volumetric flow rates instead of calculating
the flow rates from raw data.
Procedures for the Calibration of a Rotameter
A common arrangement of equipment for calibrating a rotameter is
shown in Figure F3.
Figure F3. Test setup for calibrating a rotameter.
Flow through the calibration train is controlled by the metering valve. At
various settings of the rotameter float, measurements are made of the flow rate
through the train and of the pressure and temperature of the gas stream at the
rotameter. The temperature of the gas stream is usually assumed to be the same
as the temperature of the ambient air. If the test meter significantly affects the
pressure or temperature of the gas stream, measurements should also be made of
the actual pressure and temperature at the test meter. A typical rotameter
calibration curve is illustrated in Figure F4.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F8
Figure F4. Rotameter calibration curve.
To make the calibration curve useful, the temperature and pressure of the
volumetric flow rate must be specified.
A Universal Calibration Curve
The normal arrangement of the components in a sampling train is shown in
Figure F5. Since the meter is usually installed downstream from the pollutant
collector, it can be expected to operate under widely varying conditions of
pressure, temperature, and molecular weight. This requires a different
calibration curve for each condition of pressure, temperature, and molecular
weight. This can be facilitated by drawing a family of calibration curves,
which would bracket the anticipated range of pressures, temperatures and
molecular weights, as shown in Figure F6.
Figure F5. Arrangement of sampling components.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F9
Figure F6. Family of rotameter calibration curves.
Operation of a rotameter under extreme sampling conditions, particularly
extreme temperatures, complicates the calibration setup. It is difficult, if not
impossible, for most laboratories to be able to calibrate flow metering devices at
high temperatures or unusual gas mixtures (especially where toxic gases are
involved). For these reasons, it is desirable to develop a calibration curve which
is independent of the actual expected sampling conditions. As previously
mentioned, the flow through a rotameter is dependent upon the value of C
m
, the
meter coefficient (see Equation F7), which is a function of the Reynolds
Number for the flow in the rotameter. Therefore, to be independent of the
sampling conditions, the calibration curve must be in terms of C
m
and Re.
Development of a Universal Calibration Curve
Solving Equation F7 for C
m
gives the following relationship:
(Eq. F12)
2 1


.

\

=
m f
m m
m
f m
m
RT gm
M P
A
D Q
C
Dividing Equation F11 by Equation F12 yields:
( )
2 1
m f
m m
m
f m
m m m
m m f r m
m
RT gm
M P
A
D Q
RT μ A
M P D D Q
C
Re


.

\

÷
=
Cancelling the like terms Q
m
and A
m
yields:
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F10
( )
2 1
m f
m m
f
m m
m m f r
m
RT gm
M P
D
RT μ
M P D D
C
Re


.

\

÷
=
Simplifying:
( )
(
(
¸
(
¸


.

\

(
¸
(
¸
÷
=
2 1
m m
m f
f m m
m m f r
m
M P
RT gm
D
1
RT μ
M P D D
C
Re
Combining the like terms P
m
, M
m
, and T
m
yields:
(Eq. F13)
( )
2 1
m
m m f
f m
f r
m
RT
M P gm
D μ
D D
C
Re


.

\

(
(
¸
(
¸
÷
=
Simplifying the ( )
f r
D D ÷ and D
f
relationship in Equation F13 yields a
dimensionless factor which has no limitations on either Reynolds Number or
the meter coefficient C
m
.
(Eq. F14)
2 1
m
m m f
f
r
m m
RT
M P gm
D
D
C
Re


.

\

(
(
¸
(
¸
µ
=
1
A plot of the dimensionless factor
m
C Re defined by Equation F14 versus
the meter coefficient C
m
as calculated from Equation F12 on regular graph
paper will yield a universal calibration curve which is independent of the
sampling conditions. Such a plot is illustrated in Figure F7.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F11
2 1
1
1


.

\

(
(
¸
(
¸
÷


.

\

µ
=
m
m m f
f
r
m m
RT
M P gm
D
D
C
Re
Figure F7. A universal calibration curve for a rotameter.
F.5 Use of the Universal Calibration Curve for a
Rotameter
To Determine an Existing Flow Rate
To determine an existing flow rate, measurements must be made of the gas
temperature and pressure as well as the float position. Data from the
manufacturer of the rotameter will yield information on the diameter of the
tube at the various float positions and on the diameter and mast of the float .
The apparent molecular weight of the gas being metered can be calculated if
the composition of the gas stream is known. The viscosity of the gas stream
can be determined if the temperature of the gas stream is known (see Perry’s
Chemical Engineer’s Handbook). From this data the
m
C Re factor (see Equation
F14) can be calculated. The universal calibration curve is then entered at the
calculated value of
m
C Re and the corresponding
m
C is noted.
m
Q is then
calculated from Equation F7.
To Establish a Required Sampling Rate
To establish a required sampling rate, estimates are made of the metered gas
pressure (
m
P ), the metered gas temperature (
m
T ), the apparent molecular
weight of the metered gas (M
m
), and the area of the meter (
m
A ) which will exist
at the desired sampling rate. Using these estimated values, the meter
coefficient,
m
C , is calculated (see Equation F12) for the desired sampling
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F12
rate
m
Q . The universal calibration curve (see Figure F7) is entered at this value
of
m
C and the corresponding factor is noted. ( )   1 ÷
f r
D D is solved by using
the following equation which is a rearrangement of Equation F14:
(Eq. F15)
2 1
m m f
m
m
m
f
r
M P gm
RT
C
Re
D
D


.

\



.

\

µ =
(
(
¸
(
¸
÷


.

\

1
The float position can be determined from the value ( )   1 ÷
f r
D D . For some
rotameters the value of ( )   1 ÷
f r
D D is the tube reading divided by 100. If the
area of the meter corresponding to this float position is not equal to the
original estimated value for the meter area, the new value of area is used as an
estimate and the entire procedure is repeated until the estimated area and the
calculated area are equal. Then upon setting the float position at this tube
reading,
m
T ,
m
P , and
m
M , are noted. If they are different from the original
estimates, the procedure is repeated using the observed values of
m
T ,
m
P , and
m
M as estimates. Experience will aid in selecting original estimates that are
nearly accurate so that the required sampling rate may be set fairly rapidly.
To Predict Calibration Curves
The above techniques are very cumbersome to apply in the field and, as a
result, the universal calibration curve should not be used in such a manner.
The real utility of the universal calibration curve is that it can be used to
predict calibration curves at any set of conditions. This results in a great
reduction in laboratory work in that the rotameter need only be calibrated once
and not every time the conditions at which the meter is operated change.
The first step in predicting calibration curves from the universal calibration
curve of a rotameter is to ascertain the anticipated meter operating range for the
sampling application of concern. Once this operating range is established, an
arbitrary selection of a point on the universal calibration curve is made (see point
in Figure F8). The coordinates of point a, point b ( )
m
C Re , and point c (
m
C )
are determined. Values of
1
T ,
1
P , and
1
M and the value of
m
C Re are used to
calculate a value for ( ) 1 ÷
f r
D D by means of the following equation:
(Eq. F15)
2 1
m m f
m
m
m
f
r
M P gm
RT
C
Re
D
D


.

\



.

\

µ =
(
(
¸
(
¸
÷


.

\

1
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F13
Figure F8. Predicting calibration curves from the universal calibration curve
(NRe=Re, or Reynolds Number).
The area of the meter (
m
A ) is calculated from this value of ( )   1 ÷
f r
D D and
is used along with the assumed values of
1
T ,
1
P , and
1
M and the value of
m
C
from the universal calibration curve to calculate a volumetric flow rate by means
of the following equation:
(Eq. F7)
2 1
(
¸
(
¸


.

\

=
m m
m f
f
m m
m
M P
RT gm
D
A C
Q
This procedure is repeated until enough points are available to plot a normal
calibration curve. The entire procedure is repeated using new values for
temperature, pressure, and molecular weight until a family of calibration curves is
plotted. Of course, this family of curves should bracket the anticipated meter
operating conditions for the sampling application of concern. The volumetric
flow rate (
m
Q ) is plotted versus either the area of the meter (
m
A ) or the tube
reading that corresponds to the meter area.
Field operation is greatly simplified if the tube reading is used. A typical family
of calibration curves is shown in Figure F9.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E
F14
Figure F9. Calibration curves predicted from universal calibration curve.
Notice that these curves are similar to the calibration curves illustrated in
Figure F6. The difference between them is the manner in which they were
obtained. The curves of Figure F6 were obtained by an actual laboratory
calibration run for each set of conditions illustrated, whereas the curves of Figure
F9 were obtained by mathematical manipulation of data from only one
calibration run. This can, of course, save considerable laboratory time. In
addition, it may not be possible to ascertain, in the laboratory, calibration data at
extreme conditions, particularly at high temperatures.
Figure F1. A variable ring or annulus is created between the outer diameter of the float and the inner wall of the tube. The float will continue to move upward until a pressure drop across the float. Rotameter. As the float moves upward in the tube. transparent tube containing a float. the area of the annulus increases. The float moves upward as the fluid flow increases.2 The rotameter (Figure F1) is a variable area meter which consists of a vertical. F2 . Graduations are etched on the side of the tube so that an instantaneous reading may be observed. tapered. is reached. This pressure drop across the float is constant regardless of the flow rate.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E µm ρ ρf ρm = = = = viscosity of the metered gas density of flowing fluid (used to calculate Reynolds Number) density of the float density of the metered gas F Description of a Rotameter . which is unique for each rotameter.
these forces are as follows: Drag force CA f ρm v 2 2g c Weight of float Vf ρf g gc Buoyant force Where: Af C g gc = = = = V f ρm g gc cross sectional area of the float drag coefficient local acceleration due to gravity dimensional constant F3 . The buoyant force is equal to the weight of the gas that is displaced by the float. The weight of the float is equal to the force of gravity acting on the float.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E F Development of Flow Equations . Forces acting upon a rotameter float.3 General Flow Rate Equations A free body diagram of the forces acting upon the rotameter float is shown in Figure F2. The drag force is equal to the frictional forces acting between the float and the moving gas stream. Mathematically. Figure F2.
F3) V f g ρ f ρ m v Cm 2 D f ρm 12 Because the drag coefficient C is dependent on Reynolds Number.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E v = average gas velocity through the annular area of the meter Vf = volume of the float ρf = density of the float ρm = density of the metered gas When the forces acting in an upward direction exactly equal the force acting in a downward direction. Substituting D f 2 4 for Af in Equation F1 yields: 8V f g ρ f ρ m v 2 CD f ρ m (Eq. Cm must also be a function of Reynolds Number. Because the density of the gas flowing in the rotameter is very small compared to the density of the float. F1) 2V f g ρ f ρ m v CA f ρ m 12 The area of the float is equal to D f 2 4 . it can be F4 . where Df is the diameter of the float. F2) 12 Let Cm equal 8 C 1 2 . where Cm is called a meter coefficient and is dependent on the drag coefficient.V f ρm g CA f ρ m v 2 2 Solving for v and factoring out Vf and g from the first two terms yields: (Eq. Substituting Cm for 8 C 1 2 in Equation F2 yields: (Eq. Equating these forces yields: CA f ρ m v 2 2g c V f ρm g gc Vf ρ f g gc Cancelling like terms (gc) and rearranging yields: V f ρ f g . the float will remain stationary in the tube.
A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E ignored in the ( ρ f ρ m ) term. Substituting Pm M m RTm for ρ m in Equation F6 yields the general flow rate equation for a rotameter: (Eq.) through the rotameter is equal to the product of the velocity (v) and the annular area of the meter (Am). ρ is the density of the flowing fluid. Modifying the ( ρ f ρ m ) term in Equation F3 yields: (Eq. d is a length which is characteristic of the physical system under study. Substituting m f V f for ρ f in Equation F5 and cancelling the Vf’s yields: (Eq. Mm is the apparent molecular weight of the gas mixture passing through the meter. F6) C A Qm m m Df gm f ρm 12 The density of the gas mixture passing through the meter ( ρ m ) is equal to Pm M m RTm . F7) C A gm f RTm Qm m m D f Pm M m 12 Computation of Reynolds Number Reynolds Number is defined as vdρ . F4) V f gρ f v Cm 2 D f ρm 12 The volumetric flow rate (Q. and Tm is the absolute temperature of the gas mixture.. F5) C A V f gρ f Qm m m D f ρm 12 The density of the float ρ f is equal to the mass of the float (mf) divided by the volume of the float. R is the universal gas constant. When F5 . Substituting Q m Am for v in Equation F4 yields: V f gρ f Qm Cm 2 Am D f ρm 2 12 Rearranging terms and removing D f from the radical yields: (Eq. where v is the velocity flow. where Pm is the absolute pressure at the meter. and is the viscosity of the flowing fluid.
Substituting Qm Am for v in Equation F8 yields: (Eq. providing measurements are made of the temperature. Therefore. F9) Re Q m Dr D f ρ Am The density of the flowing fluid ρ is equal to Pm M m RTm . M m is the apparent molecular weight of the metered gas. where Pm is the absolute pressure of the metered gas. and Tm is the absolute temperature of the metered gas. Before these calculations of the F6 . (Eq. which is used to calculate Reynolds Number for gas flow in a rotameter. pressure. the length characteristic of the physical system ( d ) is the difference between the tube diameter (Df) and the diameter of the float (Dr).A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E calculating Reynolds Number for a gas flowing through a rotameter. and molecular weight of the metered gas. F10) Re Q m Dr D f Pm M m Am RTm Adding the subscript m to the viscosity term in Equation F10 to denote the viscosity of the metered gas yields the following equation. F11) Re Q m Dr D f Pm M m Am m RTm F Common Practices in the Use of a Rotameter .4 for Gas Flow Measurement It can be seen from Equation F7 that the volumetric flow rate through a rotameter can be calculated when such physical characteristics as the diameter and the mass of the float and the annular area of the meter at each tube reading are known. R is the universal gas constant. Reynolds Number may be calculated by using the following equation: v Dr D f ρ μ (Eq. Substituting Pm M m RTm for ρ in Equation F9 yields: (Eq. F8) Re The average velocity of flow through the rotameter is given by Q m Am where Q m is the volumetric flow rate through the meter and Am is the annular area between the inside circumference of the tube at the float position.
At various settings of the rotameter float. Test setup for calibrating a rotameter. If the test meter significantly affects the pressure or temperature of the gas stream. Cm. The temperature of the gas stream is usually assumed to be the same as the temperature of the ambient air. A typical rotameter calibration curve is illustrated in Figure F4. data must be known about the meter coefficient. common practice is to use calibration curves to determine volumetric flow rates instead of calculating the flow rates from raw data. Figure F3. measurements are made of the flow rate through the train and of the pressure and temperature of the gas stream at the rotameter. Procedures for the Calibration of a Rotameter A common arrangement of equipment for calibrating a rotameter is shown in Figure F3. Flow through the calibration train is controlled by the metering valve. measurements should also be made of the actual pressure and temperature at the test meter. To obtain data on the meter coefficient. F7 .A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E volumetric flow rate can be made. However. The meter coefficient being a function of Reynolds Number is ultimately a function of the conditions at which the meter is being used. the meter must be calibrated. because of the ease involved in using calibration curves.
To make the calibration curve useful. which would bracket the anticipated range of pressures. Rotameter calibration curve. Since the meter is usually installed downstream from the pollutant collector.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E Figure F4. Figure F5. F8 . temperature. temperature. This can be facilitated by drawing a family of calibration curves. and molecular weight. This requires a different calibration curve for each condition of pressure. it can be expected to operate under widely varying conditions of pressure. Arrangement of sampling components. as shown in Figure F6. temperatures and molecular weights. A Universal Calibration Curve The normal arrangement of the components in a sampling train is shown in Figure F5. the temperature and pressure of the volumetric flow rate must be specified. and molecular weight.
As previously mentioned. Therefore. particularly extreme temperatures. for most laboratories to be able to calibrate flow metering devices at high temperatures or unusual gas mixtures (especially where toxic gases are involved). it is desirable to develop a calibration curve which is independent of the actual expected sampling conditions. It is difficult. which is a function of the Reynolds Number for the flow in the rotameter. the calibration curve must be in terms of Cm and Re. F12) Q m D f Pm M m Cm A m gm f RTm 12 Dividing Equation F11 by Equation F12 yields: Q m Dr D f Pm M m Am μ m RTm Re Cm Q m D f Pm M m Am gm f RTm Cancelling the like terms Qm and Am yields: 12 F9 . the meter coefficient (see Equation F7). Operation of a rotameter under extreme sampling conditions. Family of rotameter calibration curves. if not impossible.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E Figure F6. Development of a Universal Calibration Curve Solving Equation F7 for Cm gives the following relationship: (Eq. For these reasons. the flow through a rotameter is dependent upon the value of C m. complicates the calibration setup. to be independent of the sampling conditions.
and Tm yields: (Eq. Such a plot is illustrated in Figure F7. Mm. F14) Re 1 Dr C m m D f gm f Pm M m RTm 12 A plot of the dimensionless factor Re C m defined by Equation F14 versus the meter coefficient Cm as calculated from Equation F12 on regular graph paper will yield a universal calibration curve which is independent of the sampling conditions. F13) Re Dr D f Cm μmD f gm Pm M m RTm f 12 Simplifying the Dr D f and D f relationship in Equation F13 yields a dimensionless factor which has no limitations on either Reynolds Number or the meter coefficient Cm. F10 . (Eq.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E D Re Cm Simplifying: r D f Pm M m μ m RTm 12 P M Df m m gm f RTm Re Dr D f Pm M m 1 Cm μ m RTm D f gm f RTm P M m m 12 Combining the like terms Pm.
C m .5 Use of the Universal Calibration Curve for a Rotameter To Determine an Existing Flow Rate To determine an existing flow rate. The viscosity of the gas stream can be determined if the temperature of the gas stream is known (see Perry’s Chemical Engineer’s Handbook). the metered gas temperature ( Tm ). measurements must be made of the gas temperature and pressure as well as the float position. F. Using these estimated values. the apparent molecular weight of the metered gas (Mm). The apparent molecular weight of the gas being metered can be calculated if the composition of the gas stream is known. A universal calibration curve for a rotameter. Q m is then calculated from Equation F7. To Establish a Required Sampling Rate To establish a required sampling rate. estimates are made of the metered gas pressure ( Pm ). the meter coefficient. is calculated (see Equation F12) for the desired sampling F11 . The universal calibration curve is then entered at the calculated value of Re C m and the corresponding C m is noted. Data from the manufacturer of the rotameter will yield information on the diameter of the tube at the various float positions and on the diameter and mast of the float.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E Re 1 Dr C m m D f gm f Pm M m 1 RTm 12 Figure F7. and the area of the meter ( Am ) which will exist at the desired sampling rate. From this data the Re C m factor (see Equation F14) can be calculated.
point b Re C m . Once this operating range is established. F15) D r D f 1 m Re C m RTm gm P M f m m 12 F12 . and M 1 and the value of Re C m are used to calculate a value for Dr D f 1 by means of the following equation: (Eq. To Predict Calibration Curves The above techniques are very cumbersome to apply in the field and. Experience will aid in selecting original estimates that are nearly accurate so that the required sampling rate may be set fairly rapidly. an arbitrary selection of a point on the universal calibration curve is made (see point in Figure F8). This results in a great reduction in laboratory work in that the rotameter need only be calibrated once and not every time the conditions at which the meter is operated change. and point c ( C m ) are determined. Pm . and M m . Tm . the procedure is repeated using the observed values of Tm . are noted. and M m as estimates. The universal calibration curve (see Figure F7) is entered at this value of C m and the corresponding factor is noted.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E rate Q m . the universal calibration curve should not be used in such a manner. as a result. The first step in predicting calibration curves from the universal calibration curve of a rotameter is to ascertain the anticipated meter operating range for the sampling application of concern. The real utility of the universal calibration curve is that it can be used to predict calibration curves at any set of conditions. If they are different from the original estimates. Dr D f 1 is solved by using the following equation which is a rearrangement of Equation F14: (Eq. For some rotameters the value of Dr D f 1 is the tube reading divided by 100. P1 . Then upon setting the float position at this tube reading. the new value of area is used as an estimate and the entire procedure is repeated until the estimated area and the calculated area are equal. F15) D r D f 1 m Re C m RTm gm P M f m m 12 The float position can be determined from the value Dr D f 1 . The coordinates of point a. Pm . Values of T1 . If the area of the meter corresponding to this float position is not equal to the original estimated value for the meter area.
and M 1 and the value of C m from the universal calibration curve to calculate a volumetric flow rate by means of the following equation: (Eq. this family of curves should bracket the anticipated meter operating conditions for the sampling application of concern.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E Figure F8. Field operation is greatly simplified if the tube reading is used. pressure. A typical family of calibration curves is shown in Figure F9. F7) C A Qm m m Df gm f RTm Pm M m 12 This procedure is repeated until enough points are available to plot a normal calibration curve. The entire procedure is repeated using new values for temperature. Of course. Predicting calibration curves from the universal calibration curve (NRe=Re. or Reynolds Number). and molecular weight until a family of calibration curves is plotted. The volumetric flow rate ( Q m ) is plotted versus either the area of the meter ( Am ) or the tube reading that corresponds to the meter area. The area of the meter ( Am ) is calculated from this value of Dr D f 1 and is used along with the assumed values of T1 . P1 . F13 .
This can. Notice that these curves are similar to the calibration curves illustrated in Figure F6. it may not be possible to ascertain. whereas the curves of Figure F9 were obtained by mathematical manipulation of data from only one calibration run. The difference between them is the manner in which they were obtained.A P T I 4 3 5 : A T M O S P H E R I C S A M P L I N G C O U R S E Figure F9. In addition. of course. Calibration curves predicted from universal calibration curve. calibration data at extreme conditions. particularly at high temperatures. in the laboratory. F14 . The curves of Figure F6 were obtained by an actual laboratory calibration run for each set of conditions illustrated. save considerable laboratory time.
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