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FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF GAS TURBINE METERS

Wayland Sligh
Instromet Inc.
Stafford, Texas

INTRODUCTION

Gas Turbine Meters have developed greatly since their


introduction to the US 1963. From the mechanically gear
driven version, meters have developed into fully
electronic designs and self-correcting models. Although
these technological developments have greatly improved
the application of the meter, the meters basic design
and principles have remained very similar. FIGURE 1. Turbine Meter Construction

As an inferential meter, the gas turbine meter competes


with the rotary and diaphragm positive displacement Q = VA
meters. Like these meters, the turbine meter is versatile
and accurate over a wide range of flowing conditions. Where Q = Volumetric flow rate
Unlike these meters the turbine meter provides less V = Velocity
pressure drop for equivalent flow rates. It also provides A = Flow area
a digital pulse output for input with flow computers and
local readout devices. ROTATIONAL MEASUREMENT

Accuracy, the meters ability to measure as close to actual In the U.S., rotor rotation measurement is accomplished
flow as possible, are typically in the ±1% range or better. in one of two primary ways:
Repeatability, the meters’ ability to give the same readout
under similar flowing conditions, is listed as ±0.1%. • Mechanical
• Electromagnetic Proximity
The meters ability to hook up with local pressure and
temperature correctors as well as flow computers allows Mechanical meters use a gear train to determine the rotor
the full versatility of the meter to be utilized; to provide rotation. Gear ratios are such that the rotor revolution is
corrected flow output and higher accuracy’s across its mechanically connected to a rotating mechanism on the
flow range. meter top. This directly indicates total flow in actual
volume flowrate.
OPERATION/METER CONSTRUCTION
The electronic meter is equipped with two magnetic
As previously stated the Gas Turbine meter is an pickup coils that sense rotor rotation through accurately
inferential meter that infers volume by sensing flow positioned magnets in the rotor hub. As a magnet passes
velocity through a known area by measuring the rotational the coil, a voltage pulse is produced that represents a
speed of a turbine rotor. discrete unit of volume. The turbine meter output is rated
in pulses per unit volume.
As gas enters the meter inlet, it is guided through a flow
area created by the meters’ inside diameter and the Independent pickup coils can be used with a local
outside diameter of a flow deflector (Figure 1). The flow totalizer and/or flow instrumentation capable of
deflector, or nose cone, increases gas velocity to prepare accepting inputs from pressure, temperature and density
it for impingement on the rotor blades. transducers for corrected flow or mass calculations.

The accelerated gas flows through the meter rotor, Bearings typically are lubricated through an external fitting
designed with a specific number of blades positioned at or a pressurized connection to allow lubrication during
a precise angle, and impinges on the rotor blades, operation. Permanently lubricated bearings are available
causing the rotor to rotate. Rotor angular velocity is for vertical installations or where access is restricted.
directly proportional to gas velocity and consequently
to volumetric flow rate. INSTALLATION

By accurately measuring the rotor rotational velocity, AGA Report No. 7 provides standard practices and
volumetric flow rate can be determined: procedures for installing gas turbine meters and details

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correction factors and operating requirements. Several FIELD MAINTENANCE
common installations are described in the standard.
Normal maintenance includes lubricating and spin testing
In-Line meters. To maintain fluid velocity profile and the meter. While a spin test does not produce absolute
meter accuracy, it is recommended that an upstream proof of accuracy over the entire flow range, it does give
meter tube be installed. Minimum distances are 10 pipe an indication of the meter’s accuracy at low flowrates. A
diameters upstream and five diameters downstream of spin test is performed at the factory before calibration
the meter (Figure 2). and shipment.

To reduce swirl and maintain velocity profile, a


straightening vane, or tube bundle, should be installed a
minimum five pipe diameters upstream of the meter.

Offset, short-coupled meters. This installation has two


Elbows, or Tee sections, connected to the meter inlet
and exit. A shortened inlet pipe section, of four pipe
diameters, is equipped with straightening vanes.

FIGURE 2. FIGURE 3.

The spin-down time is the time the rotor takes to stop


VERTICAL INSTALLATIONS after being spun by hand or air blast. A reduction from
the original spin-down does not necessarily mean the
Turbine meters can operate vertically up or down. meter no longer is accurate. It does indicate reduced
Manufacturers offer permanently lubricated bearings or rangeability or an accuracy loss at the minimum flowrate
a pressure connection for lubrication during operation.
Accuracy relies on an installation without offsets at the A notable reduction in spin-down time means either
flanges and without protruding gaskets. deteriorated bearings, or debris buildup in the bearings

To protect internal components from foreign materials Meter proving. Each meter is calibrated to a recognized
in the gas stream, it is important that a strainer of filter standard at the factory. Calibration methods include low
be installed upstream of the straightening section. A 1/8- pressure, sonic nozzle, transfer proving and bell prover.
in. perforated cone or basket strainer may be
recommended. Alternatively, a filter capable of trapping Standard primary calibration methods are sonic nozzle
dust particles up to 10 microns can be used. and bell prover. Transfer proving is a common calibration
method that avoids resorting to the time-consuming
A pressure tap usually is provided on the meter body to primary methods. In transfer proving, a master meter
allow static-pressure measurement at the rotor. Other first is calibration curve with at least 15 points. This
instruments taps should be installed a minimum of two master meter then is used to prove other meters. Typical
to five pipe diameters downstream. calibration curves have five to ten calibration points at
atmospheric pressure or the customer’s pressure choice.
To control over-ranging the meter and damaging the rotor
mechanism, a downstream control orifice or venturi The typical calibration curve shows the percentage flow
nozzle is recommended. Although over-speeding the rate versus the percentage error. Calibration curves also
rotor to 120 % of maximum capacity is permissible for provide the flow rate versus the K factor. A turbine meter
short duration’s, it is recommended that the meter be has an accuracy of ± to 1.0%. Its repeatability, the ability
run within its normal working range. of the meter to provide the same reading at similar flow
conditions, is about ±0.1%.
Blowdown valves should be installed downstream of the
meter and, ideally, downstream of the control orifice to CONCLUSION
prevent damage.
Turbine meters are capable of handling wide flow ranges
over a wide range of pressures and offer accurate, reliable

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measurement over many years. With the addition of new
technology and the versatility of the meter it shall remain
a major standard in the field of gas measurement.

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