FLOW MEASUREMENT

INTRODUCTION
• For example, the orifice plate flowmeter, which was first
used commercially in the early 1900s and has a typical
accuracy of ± 2% of reading, is still the only flowmeter
approved by most countries for the fiscal measurement
of natural gas.
• Although newer techniques such as Coriolis flowmeters
have become increasingly popular in recent years, the
flow measurement industry is by nature conservative and
still dominated by traditional measurement techniques.
• Fluid motion in a pipe can be characterized as one of
three types: laminar, transitional, or turbulent.

Principles of Fluid Flow in Pipes
• In laminar flow , the fluid travels as parallel layers
(known as streamlines) that do not mix as they move in
the direction of the flow.
• If the flow is turbulent, the fluid does not travel in parallel
layers, but moves in a haphazard manner with only the
average motion of the fluid being parallel to the axis of
the pipe.
• If the flow is transitional , then both types may be present
at different points along the pipeline or the flow may
switch between the two.
• In 1883, Osborne Reynolds performed a classic set of
experiments that showed that the flow characteristic can
be predicted using a dimensionless number, now known
as the Reynolds number.

Principles of Fluid Flow in Pipes
• The Reynolds number Re is the ratio of the inertia
forces in the flow to the viscous forces in the flow and
can be calculated using:




If Re < 2000, the flow will be laminar.
If Re > 4000, the flow will be turbulent.
If 2000<Re<4000, the flow is transitional
The Reynolds number is a good guide to the type of flow

Principles of Fluid Flow in Pipes

Principles of Fluid Flow in Pipes
• The Bernoulli equation
defines the relationship
between fluid velocity (v),
fluid pressure (p), and
height (h) above some
fixed point for a fluid
flowing through a pipe of
varying cross-section,
and is the starting point
for understanding the
principle of the differential
pressure flowmeter.
• Bernoulli’s equation
states that:

Bernoulli’s equation can be used to measure flow rate.
Consider the pipe section shown in figure below. Since the pipe is
horizontal, h 1 = h 2, and the equation reduces to:

Principles of Fluid Flow in Pipes
• The conservation of mass principle requires that:

Flow meter Selection
• Choosing which flowmeter is best for a particular
application can be very difficult.
• The main factors that influence this choice are the
required performance, the properties of the fluid to be
metered, the installation requirements, the environment
in which the instrument is to be used, and, of course,
cost.
• There are two standards that can be used to help select
a flowmeter: BS 1042: Section 1.4, which is a guide to
the use of the standard differential pressure flowmeters
• BS 7405, which is concerned with the wider principles of
flowmeter selection

Differential Pressure Flowmeters
The Orifice Plate
• The orifice plate is the simplest and cheapest. It
is simply a plate with a hole of specified size and
position cut in it, which can then clamped
between flanges in a pipeline
• The increase that occurs in the velocity of a fluid
as it passes through the hole in the plate results
in a pressure drop being developed across the
plate.
• After passing through this restriction, the fluid
flow jet continues to contract until a minimum
diameter known as the vena contracta is
reached.

The Orifice Plate

The Orifice Plate
• The orifice plate is the simplest and cheapest.
• The increase that occurs in the velocity of a fluid as it passes
through the hole in the plate results in a pressure drop being
developed across the plate. After passing through this restriction,
the fluid flow jet continues to contract until a minimum diameter
known as the vena contracta is reached.
• The equation to calculate the flow must be modified to

Rotameter
• Rotameter consists of a conical
transparent vertical glass tube
containing a “bob”.
• The flow rate is proportional to the
height of the bob.
• The rotameter is characterized by:
– Simple and robust construction
– High reliability
– Low pressure drop

Rotameter








Applicable to a wide variety of gases and liquids
Flow range 0.04 L/h to 150 m3/h for water
Flow range 0.5 L/h to 3000 m3/h for air
Uncertainty 0.4% to 4% of maximum flow
Insensitivity to nonuniformity in the inflow (no
upstream straight piping needed)
Typical maximum temperature 400°C
Typical maximum pressure 4 MPa (40 bar)
Low investment cost
Low installation cost

Installation
• Correct installation is essential for successful use of a
DP flowmeter because the assumption of a steady flow,
with a fully developed turbulent velocity profile, is
passing through the flowmeter.
• Standards contain detailed recommendations for the
minimum straight lengths of pipe required before and
after the flowmeter, in order to ensure a fully developed
flow profile.
• Straight lengths of pipe are required after the flowmeter
because disturbances caused by a valve or bend can
travel upstream and thus also affect the installed
flowmeter.
• If it is not possible to fit the recommended lengths of
straight pipe before and after the flowmeter, then the
flowmeter must be calibrated once it has been installed.

Installation
• The other problem one faces during installation is the
presence of a rotating flow or swirl.
• This condition distorts the flow velocity profile in a very
unpredictable way, and is obviously not desirable.
• Situations that create swirl, such as two 90° bends in
different planes, should preferably be avoided.
• However, if this is not possible, then swirl can be
removed by placing a flow conditioner (also known as a
flow straightener) between the source of the swirl and
the flowmeter.
• There many flow conditioner designs which can be used
to both remove swirl and correct a distorted velocity
profile.
• Because they obstruct the flow, all flow conditioners
produce an unrecoverable pressure loss,
• which in general increases with their capability (and
complexity).

Summary
• For pipe flows, variable area flowmeters are suitable for
low flow rates of gases or liquids at moderate
temperatures and pressures.
• Advantage rugged construction, high reliability, low
pressure drop, easy installation, and low cost.
• Disadvantages measurement uncertainty of 1% or more,
limited range (10:1), slow response, and restrictions on
the meter orientation.
• Variable area flowmeters in open-channel flows have
applications for flow measurements in waste water
plants, waterworks, rivers and streams, irrigation, and
drainage canals.