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**Jai Ganesh****Administrator**- Registered: 2005-06-28
- Posts: 47,307

**Flow meter**

**Gist**

A flow meter (or a flow sensor) is type of flow instrument that is used to indicate the amount of liquid, gas, or vapor moving through a pipe or conduit by measuring linear, non-linear, mass, or volumetric flow rates.

**Summary**

A flow meter (or a flow sensor) is type of flow instrument that is used to indicate the amount of liquid, gas, or vapor moving through a pipe or conduit by measuring linear, non-linear, mass, or volumetric flow rates. Since flow control is often essential, measuring the flow of liquids and gasses is a critical need for many industrial applications – and there are many different types of flow meters that can be utilized depending on the nature of the application.

When choosing a flow meter, one should consider such intangible factors as familiarity of plant personnel, their experience with calibration and maintenance, spare parts availability, and meant time between failure history, etc., at the particular plant site. It is also recommended that the cost of the installation be computed only after taking these steps. One of the most common flow measurement mistakes is the reversal of this sequence: instead of selecting a sensor which will perform properly, an attempt is made to justify the use of a device because it is less expensive. Those “inexpensive” purchases can be the costliest installations.

**How to Choose a Flow Meter**

The basis of good flow meter selection is a clear understanding of the requirements of the particular application. Therefore, time should be invested in fully evaluating the nature of the process fluid and of the overall installation. The development of specifications that state the application requirements should be a systematic, step-by-step process.

**Details**

Flow measurement is the quantification of bulk fluid movement. Flow can be measured using devices called flowmeters in various ways. The common types of flowmeters with industrial applications are listed below:

* Obstruction type (differential pressure or variable area)

* Inferential (turbine type)

* Electromagnetic

* Positive-displacement flowmeters, which accumulate a fixed volume of fluid and then count the number of times the volume is filled to measure flow.

* Fluid dynamic (vortex shedding)

* Anemometer

* Ultrasonic flow meter

* Mass flow meter (Coriolis force).

Flow measurement methods other than positive-displacement flowmeters rely on forces produced by the flowing stream as it overcomes a known constriction, to indirectly calculate flow. Flow may be measured by measuring the velocity of fluid over a known area. For very large flows, tracer methods may be used to deduce the flow rate from the change in concentration of a dye or radioisotope.

**Kinds and units of measurement**

Both gas and liquid flow can be measured in physical quantities of kind volumetric flow rate or mass flow rates, with respective SI units such as cubic meters per second or kilograms per second, respectively. These measurements are related by the material's density. The density of a liquid is almost independent of conditions. This is not the case for gases, the densities of which depend greatly upon pressure, temperature and to a lesser extent, composition.

When gases or liquids are transferred for their energy content, as in the sale of natural gas, the flow rate may also be expressed in terms of energy flow, such as gigajoule per hour or BTU per day. The energy flow rate is the volumetric flow rate multiplied by the energy content per unit volume or mass flow rate multiplied by the energy content per unit mass. Energy flow rate is usually derived from mass or volumetric flow rate by the use of a flow computer.

Gas mass flow rate can be directly measured, independent of pressure and temperature effects, with ultrasonic flow meters, thermal mass flowmeters, Coriolis mass flowmeters, or mass flow controllers.

**Liquid**

For liquids, various units are used depending upon the application and industry, but might include gallons (U.S. or imperial) per minute, liters per second, liters per m^2 per hour, bushels per minute or, when describing river flows, cumecs (cubic meters per second) or acre-feet per day.

**Primary flow element**

A primary flow element is a device inserted into the flowing fluid that produces a physical property that can be accurately related to flow. For example, an orifice plate produces a pressure drop that is a function of the square of the volume rate of flow through the orifice. A vortex meter primary flow element produces a series of oscillations of pressure. Generally, the physical property generated by the primary flow element is more convenient to measure than the flow itself. The properties of the primary flow element, and the fidelity of the practical installation to the assumptions made in calibration, are critical factors in the accuracy of the flow measurement.

**Mechanical flowmeters**

A positive displacement meter may be compared to a bucket and a stopwatch. The stopwatch is started when the flow starts and stopped when the bucket reaches its limit. The volume divided by the time gives the flow rate. For continuous measurements, we need a system of continually filling and emptying buckets to divide the flow without letting it out of the pipe. These continuously forming and collapsing volumetric displacements may take the form of pistons reciprocating in cylinders, gear teeth mating against the internal wall of a meter or through a progressive cavity created by rotating oval gears or a helical screw.

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