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Flow Rate Measurement

Flow measurement

Flow Rate Measurement


Flow measurement is extremely important in all the process

industries. The fluid involved in the measurement may be a solid,
a liquid or a gas.
In the case of solids it is appropriate to measure the rate of mass
flow rate, whereas in the case of liquids and gases, flow is
usually measured in terms of the volume flow rate.

Volume flow rate is the appropriate way of quantify the flow of all materials which
are in gaseous, liquid or semi-liquid slurry form ( where particles are suspended in
a liquid host).

Flow Rate Measurement

Mass Flow Rate Measurement

Measurement of mass flow rate of solids in process industries is

normally concerned with solids which are in the form of small particles
produced by a crushing or grinding process. Such materials are usually
transported by some form of conveyor, this allows the mass flow rate to be
calculated in terms of the mass of the material on a given length of the
conveyor multiplied by the speed of the conveyor.

weight measurement. The weight
is measured by means of a load
cell, which is then a strain gauge
measurement. Another popular
device for weight measurement of
moving systems like this is an
LVDT that measures the drop of
the conveyor at the point of
measurement because of the
material that it carries.

Flow Rate Measurement

Volume flow rate

Materials in gaseous, liquid or semi-liquid slurry forms are carried in
pipes, and the common categories of instrument used for measuring
flow rate can be summarized as follows:
Differential pressure meters
Variable area meters
Positive displacement meters
Turbine flow meters
Electromagnetic flow meters
Vortex shedding flow meters
Ultrasonic flow meters
Hot wire flow meters
Gate type flow meters
Cross correlation flow meters
Laser Doppler flow meter
In this chapter, only the most widely used meters will be covered.

Flow Rate Measurement

Differential pressure type flow meters (flow restriction type)

Differential pressure flow meters involve the insertion of some device into a fluidcarrying pipe which causes an obstruction and create a pressure difference on either
side of the device. Such devices include

Orifice plates,
Venturi tubes ,
Flow nozzles,
Dall tubes and
Pitot tube.
Flow-restriction-type instruments are popular because they have no moving parts and
are therefore robust, reliable and easy to maintain.

Flow Rate Measurement

Basic principle of operation of Differential pressure flow meters

The basic principle of operation of Differential pressure flow meters can be easily
explained with the help of Bernoullis equation.
The Bernoullis theorem states that algebraic sum of the pressure head, velocity head
and elevation head is constant at any point in the flowing stream for an incompressible

P1 V1

z1 2 2 z 2


Q A1V1 A2V2


P1 P2
2 g

1 A2 / A1

If we assume



and the


h P1 P2

2 gh


It may noted that A1 and A2 depend on

the point of pressure measurement
upstream and downstream of the
restriction. It is the usual practice to
assume that A1 to be the bore area of the
pipe and A2 to be the area of the
restriction. This assumption is true if the
tapings for pressure measurement are
made at a distance more than 1 diameter
at the upstream and immediately after the
restriction for the downstream.

Flow Rate Measurement

Actual flow rate expression

In developing the flow rate equation the effect of viscosity has been neglected.
In viscous flow the loss of head along the pipe will be more than a fluid free from
The actual mass flow will be less than that computed using the above equations for
viscous fluids.
In addition, the area of cross-section of the fluid stream continues to contract for
some distance even after the fluid stream has passed through the restriction due to the
inertia of the fluid. Thus the actual area of the stream at a pressure represented by P2
may be less than the area of the restriction.
Therefore volume and mass flow rate through the section 2 will be less tan that given by
equation above.
To incorporate the effects of viscosity and the difference between the pipe and flow
diameters a factor C is introduced in the above equation. This C is known as the coefficient
of discharge, which represents the ratio of the actual flow rate to the theoretical flow rate.


1 2

Qa KA2 2 gh
K is called flow coefficient

Flow Rate Measurement

C and K versus Re
Standards tables can be used to obtain the value of the discharge coefficient and the
flow coefficient appropriate to the pipe diameter and fluid involved.
The discharge coefficient and flow coefficient depend upon the Reynolds number Re

Vav D


is the absolute viscosity of the fluid, D is the diameter of the pipe,

density of the fluid and Vav the average flow velocity.

The Reynolds number is used to determine the point at which the flow goes from
viscous to turbulent and vice versa

Flow Rate Measurement

Orifice plate
The oldest and most common form of pressure differential device for measuring the flow
rate is the orifice plate. There are three types of orifices plates namely concentric,
eccentric and segmental type.

The concentric type is used for clean fluids. In metering dirty fluids, slurries and
fluids containing solids eccentric or segmental type is used in such way that its lower
edge coincides with the inside bottom of the pipe.
The orifice plate is inserted into the main pipe between adjacent flanges, the outside
diameters of the plate being turned to fit within the flange bolts. The flanges are
either screwed or welded to the pipes.

Flow Rate Measurement

Pattern developed by flow through an orifice plate

The minimum flow area is known as the vena contracta. At the vena contracta
the minimum pressure is reached then there is a rapid recovery in the static pressure.

Flow Rate Measurement

Different positions of the pressure taps

The differential pressure obtained with an orifice plate will also depend upon the position
of the pressure taps. The most common taps locations used in practice are: Flange taps,
1D and 1/2D taps, pipe taps and the vena contracta taps.

Vena contracta position varies with d/D ratio and it is difficult to locate the vena contracta

Flow Rate Measurement

Coefficient of discharge function of Reynolds number for OP.

Figure shows ranges for typical orifice coefficients versus the ratio of orifice diameter to
pipe diameter for different Reynolds number. For Reynolds number greater than 100000,
the value of K remains essentially constant.

Typical value of flow coefficient is about 0.6.

Flow Rate Measurement

Feature of OP

The edge thickness of the orifice must not be greater than 0.1d if d/D is less than or
equal to 0.2.

If d/D is greater than 0.2, the edge thickness is 0.02D.

If the thickness of the plate exceeds this downstream edge is beveled.

The material chosen for orifice plate is any rigid material of non-rusting and noncorrodible.
The common material used for fabricating orifice plate are stainless steel, phosphor
bronze, glass, ceramics, plastic, copper, aluminum, and tantalum.
Orifice plates are used for measuring the flow of gases, liquids or vapors but not
compressible fluids. Orifice plate is not suitable for measuring the flow of viscous

Flow Rate Measurement

Flow nozzle
The small hole in the thin wall orifice plate causes the flow stream to be squeezed
together, and the jet downstream from the orifice has a smaller diameter (vena
contracta) than the orifice diameter itself. The flow nozzle however is a smooth,
convergent section that discharges the flow parallel to the axis of the downstream pipe.

Pattern developed by flow through a flow nozzle

Flow Rate Measurement

The downstream end of a nozzle approximates a short tube and has the diameter
of the vena contracta of an orifice plate of equal capacity.
Thus the diameter ratio for a nozzle is smaller and its flow coefficient is larger than
that of orifice, typical value 0.99 or greater. Pressure recovery is better than that of
an orifice.

Figure 6.7 Discharge coefficient function of Reynolds number for flow nozz

Flow Rate Measurement

Recommended proportions and pressure tap locations for a long radius flow
nozzle (high ratio nozzle, as specified by the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers (ASME) code.

The upstream pressure is measured with a piezometer ring located one pipe
diameter upstream from the inlet face of the nozzle, and the throat pressure is
measured with a piezometer ring located one-half pipe diameter downstream from
the inlet face of the nozzle.

Flow Rate Measurement

Feature of flow nozzle

Flow nozzles are usually made of gun metals, stainless steel, or bronze.

A typical application of flow nozzle is in the measurement of steam flow.

It is not suitable for metering viscous liquids.

It is considerably cheaper than a standard venturi tube and

It may be installed in an existing main without great difficulty.

Its main disadvantage is that it produces a large overall loss pressure,

although this loss is slightly less than that produced by an orifice plate.

Flow Rate Measurement

Venturi tube
Pressure recovery is improved by extending the flow nozzle downstream in a
gradual and, divergent, conical section until the pipe diameter is again attained.

The greater pressure recovery obtained by a venturi tube results in a power

savings which pays for the added cost of the tube itself.
Other advantages are the smooth inner surface of the venturi which permits
continuous flow of slurries that would collect behind an orifice and later changes
its characteristic (high accuracy), resistance to abrasion, almost no maintenance
requirement and very long working life.

Flow Rate Measurement

Pattern developed by flow through a venturi tube

The conical type consists of a straight inlet section of the same diameter as the
pipe and in which the high pressure tap is located, a converging conical inlet
section in which the cross section of the stream decreases and the velocity
increases with a consequent increase in velocity head and decrease of pressure
head, a cylindrical throat which provides for the low pressure tap location of the
decreased pressure in an area where flow velocity is neither increasing nor
decreasing, and a diverging recovery cone in which velocity decreases and the
decreased velocity is head is recovered as pressure head.
The pressure taps are located one quarter to one half pipe diameter up-stream of
the inlet cone and at the middle of the throat section.

Flow Rate Measurement

Discharge coefficient
The discharge coefficient of venturi tube is between 0.95 and 0.98.

Flow Rate Measurement

Recommended proportion of venturi tube

The ISA 1932 nozzle type of venturi tube is in effect a shortened venturi tube. The
entrance cone is much shorter and has a curved profile as shown in figure.

Flow Rate Measurement

Feature of venturi tube

Venturi tube find wide application in large pipe line such as city water and
sewage lines, where large quantities of fluid are being pumped and the
power required to overcome the pressure drop of the measuring element is

This meter is often used to measure large flows of combustion air at low
pressure where available pressure is limited.

Venturi is preferred as it develops sufficient pressure differential for reliable

flow measurement within limits of available pressure loss.

The main disadvantages are its high cost,

it cannot be easily installed in an existing pipe line because of its length and
once tube is manufactured and installed it is impossible to change the range
of the flow installation instrument.

Flow Rate Measurement

Dall tube
It is a modified version of Venturi tube which gives a higher differential pressure but a
lower head loss than the conventional venturi tube.
It consists of two conical reducers inserted into the fluid-carrying pipe. It has similar
internal shape to the venturi, except that it lacks a throat.

Flow Rate Measurement

Feature of Dall tube

Like other flow meters the Dall tube is affected by disturbances upstream and it
needs a greater length of straight pipe upstream than a venturi tube.

The discharge coefficient for the Dall tube becomes variable below a Reynolds
number considerably higher than that at which venturi tube coefficient start to vary.

It is suitable for measuring the flow of fluids containing solids which could settle in the
throat slot.

The construction of Dall tube is easier and this gives an advantage to Dall tube in
cost over the venturi.

Its short length makes the engineering tasks of inserting it into the flow line easier.

Flow Rate Measurement

Pitot tube

Pitot tube is mainly used for making temporary measurement of flow, although it is also
used in some instances for permanent measurement flow monitoring.
It measures the local velocity of flow at a particular point within a pipe rather than the
average flow velocity as measured by other type flowmeter.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Principle of pitot tube

The instrument depends on the principle that a tube placed with its open end in a
stream fluid will bring to rest that part of the fluid which impinges on it, and the loss of
kinetic energy will be converted to a measurable increase in pressure inside the tube.

The static pressure is measured

using piezometer ring or by a
tapping incorporated in the pitot.

Flow Rate Measurement

Velocity measurement
The difference between the tube (stagnation pressure) and static pressure of flow stream
will be measure of the velocity of stream.

Using the installation shown, the Bernoulli equation gives


Po Ps Vs Vo

Since Vs = 0, therefore

P Ps Vo
h o


The negative sign indicates that it is an increase in pressure and not a decrease.
Increase in head h Vo

P Po
Vo 2 g s

2 gh

Since not all fluid incident on the end of

the tube will be brought to rest, and some
may be deflected around the edge, this
value of Vo may varies from the true
velocity. To correct for this variation, a
coefficient C called the pitot tube
coefficient is introduced in the above
equation i.e.

Vo C 2 gh

Flow Rate Measurement

Pitot tube feature

Pitot tubes have the advantage that they cause negligible pressure loss in the flow.

They are also cheap,

the installation procedure consists of the very simple process of pushing them down
a small hole drilled in the flow-carrying pipe.

Pitot static tube which is compact,

efficient, velocity measuring instruments
measurements and stagnation pressure
measurements into a single unit.

Flow Rate Measurement

Elbow meter
The principle of operation of elbow is shown in figure, which shows pressure taps
located on the inside (low pressure) and outside (high pressure) circumferential walls of
the elbow.


Q CA 2 g o z o i z i

Where C is the discharge coefficient, which must found experimentally for each
installation (changes from 0.56 to 0.88).

Flow Rate Measurement

Elbow meter feature

Venturi meter, flow nozzle, and orifice meter all contribute to the energy
losses in the system.
Elbow meters, however, do not introduce additional energy losses, since
they replace an elbow that is already being used in the system to
change the direction of flow.
Elbow meters, like the other obstruction meters, require a minimum of
10 to 30 pipe diameters of unobstructed upstream flow (to reduce large
scale turbulence) for satisfactory operation and accurate flow

Flow Rate Measurement

Differential pressure transducer for flow measurement

In practice, the differential pressure can be measured with manometers
or with pressure gages, as discussed in chapter on pressure
The popular differential pressure transducer utilizes a thin diaphragm
as the elastic element. Electrical resistance strain gages used in
conjunction with Wheatstone bridge provide for continuous monitoring
of differential pressure.
The flow is determined using the appropriate equation corresponding to
the primary elements.

Flow Rate Measurement

Strain-Gage Based Pressure Cell

Flow Rate Measurement

Capacitance-Based Pressure Cell

As shown in Figure , the
deflection of the diaphragm
causes a change in capacitance
that is detected by a bridge
circuit. This circuit can be
operated in either a balanced or
unbalanced mode. In balanced
mode, the output voltage is fed
to a null detector and the
capacitor arms are varied to
maintain the bridge at null.
Therefore, in the balanced
mode, the null setting itself is a
measure of process pressure.
When operated in unbalanced
mode, the process pressure
measurement is related to the
ratio between the output voltage
and the excitation voltage.

Flow Rate Measurement

Potentiometric Pressure Transducer

The device consists of a precision

potentiometer, whose wiper arm is
mechanically linked to a Bourdon or
bellows element. The movement of
measurement, using a Wheatstone

Flow Rate Measurement

Typical Piezoelectric Pressure Sensor

When pressure, force or

acceleration is applied to
a quartz crystal, a charge
is developed across the
crystal that is proportional
to the force applied.

The fundamental difference between these crystal sensors and static-force devices
such as strain gages is that the electric signal generated by the crystal decays
rapidly. This characteristic makes these sensors unsuitable for the measurement of
static forces or pressures but useful for dynamic measurements.

Flow Rate Measurement

Magnetic Pressure Transducer Designs

Figure A illustrates the use of a linear

variable differential transformer (LVDT)
as the working element of a pressure
transmitter. The LVDT operates on the
inductance ratio principle.

Reluctance is the equivalent of

resistance in a magnetic circuit. If
a change in pressure changes the
gaps in the magnetic flux paths of
the two cores, the ratio of
inductances L1/L2 will be related
to the change in process pressure
(Figure B)

Flow Rate Measurement

Optical Pressure Transducer

Optical pressure transducers
detect the effects of minute
motions due to changes in
process pressure and generate a
corresponding electronic output
A light emitting diode (LED) is
used as the light source, and a
vane blocks some of the light as it
is moved by the diaphragm. As
the process pressure moves the
vane between the source diode
and the measuring diode, the
amount of infrared light received

Flow Rate Measurement

Variable area flow meter

In its simplest form, the variable area flow meter consists of a tapered glass tube and a
solid float that is free to move vertically in the tube.

The variable area flow meter operates on the same

principle as that of the differential pressure flow
In the orifice plate meter, there is a fixed aperture
and flow is indicated by a differential pressure.
In the variable area meter there is variable aperture
and the drop of pressure across the aperture is
fixed. Thus, in the variable area meter, flow is
indicated as function of the area of the annular
through which the fluid passes.

This type of instrument normally only gives a visual indication of flow rate, and so is of no
use in automatic control schemes. However, it is reliable and cheap and used extensively
in industry. Variable area flow meters are commonly called rotameters.

Flow Rate Measurement

Rotameter basic equation

F1 Wb F2 W f
F1 P1 A f

upward force acting on the float due to upward fluid pressure P1

F2 P2 A f

downward force acting on the float due to downward fluid pressure P2

Wf Vf f
Wb V f

buoyancy force acting upwards.

P1 P2 V f

Qa C

weight force of the float acting downwards



Where Af is the front area of the float, V f is the volume of the float,
f is the specific weight of the float and

is the specific weight of the fluid.

P1 P2

2 g

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Rotameter basic equation


assuming that

and A2 the annular area and the expression of pressure drop across the float, we get

Qa CA2 2 gV f

A f

The annular area is expressed as

A2 D ay d 2

Where D is the inside diameter at the bottom of the tube,

y is a position with an origin at the bottom of the tube, a
is a constant that describes the taper of the tube, and d
is the diameter of the float.

2 2
The tubes are constructed so that D a y d




W Qa K f y

gV f

is the rotameter constant. It depends on the geometry of the tube and the float.


The influence of fluid density is eliminated by selecting

W Qa

so that the annular area is

K f

f 2

. Equation above reduces to

Thus the float position indicates that the flow rate is

proportional to the position of the float.

Flow Rate Measurement

Type of Rotameter

The tube materials of rotameter may be

of glass or metal.

The glass metering tubes (direct viewing

rotameter) are commonly used for the
pipe size varies from 1.5 mm to 50 mm
and the pressure ranging from 3 kg/cm2
to 38 kg/cm2, the fluid is not dark or
opaque that direct viewing is difficult and
the fluid flows freely at ordinary

Metal metering tubes (armored

rotameters) are used in applications
where glass is not acceptable. Since the
float cannot be seen inside the metal
tube, the movement of the plummet float
was extended beyond the meter body.
The metal metering tube can withstand high
pressure. The extension rod facilitates the use of
one of the several types of transmitters (magnetic,
electric, electronic or pneumatic).

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Correction due to changes in fluid density or specific weight

Since the majority of fluid applications of rotameters are for low viscosity
fluids, correction must be provided for the changes in fluid density or
specific weight.
These corrections are specially important for gas flows where changes in
operating temperatures and pressures cause significant changes in the
specific weight of the flowing medium.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Flowmeter with Analog Output

This flowmeter works according to the proven
variable area principle. A float is guided in a
conical measuring tube and is nearly
independent of the viscosity of the medium. The
flowing medium moves the float in the flow

An externally mounted pointer

indicator is magnetically coupled to
the float and thus, following the
float position, indicates the flow
rate on a scale.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Glass Tube Variable Area Flowmeter

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Turbine meters
The turbine flow meter works on the
basic principle of turbine. It consists of
a multi-bladed rotor (turbine wheel)
which is mounted at right angles to the
axis of the flowing fluid. The flowing
fluid invades the wheel causes it to
rotate at a speed proportional to the
fluid velocity, and hence to the
volumetric flow rate.

The speed of rotation is monitored by constructing the flowmeter such that it behaves as
variable reluctance tachogenerator. This is achieved by fabricating the turbine blades
from ferromagnetic material and placing a permanent magnet and coil inside the meter
housing. A voltage pulse is induced in the coil as each blade on the turbine wheel moves
past it, and these pulses are measured by a pulse counter, the pulse frequency and
hence flow rate can be deduced.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Pulse or Voltage Output, Flow rates from 0.1 GPM to 60 GPM, 0.25" to 1.0" Pipe
CRFO & CRFA Rotor Flow Indicator & Transmitter

confirmation of flow with a pulse or conditioned
0-10 V output proportional to flow rate. As liquid
passes through the meter body, a magnetic rotor
spins at a rate proportional to flow. This causes a
series of magnetic fields (the rotor vanes) to
excite a Hall Effect sensor, producing a series of
voltage pulses. The output pulses (CRFO) are at
the same voltage level as the input (4.5 - 24
VDC) with a frequency proportional to the flow
rate. The output signal can be utilized by digital
rate meters, totalizers, or other electronic
controllers. CRFA Type analog sensors condition
the output signal to 0-10 VDC.

metering equipment, lasers and welders, water
injection systems, semiconductor processing
equipment, chillers and heat exchangers.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Turbine Flow Sensor

Pulse Output, Flow rates from 0.1 GPM to 8 GPM

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement


Wetted Materials:
Body: Nylon 12
Turbine: Nylon 12 Composite
Bearings: PTFE/15% Graphite

Operating Pressure: 200 PSIG

Burst Pressure: 2500 PSIG
Operating Temperature: -4F to 212F (-20C to 100C)
Viscosity: 32 to 81 SSU (0.8 to 16
Power: 5 to 24 VDC @ 8mA
Output (Hz): NPN Sinking Open Collector @ 50mA Maximum
(1 to 2.2K Ohm Pull-Up Resistor Required)
Accuracy: 3% of Reading

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Impeller Type Liquid Flow Sensor/Transmitter

The rotation of the rotor is

detected by a zero-drag Halleffect sensor. Output is a
pulse-type square wave, which
can be sent long distances (up
to 2,000 feet) without a
transmitter. This signal can be
connected directly to Clark data
logger and control modules, as
well as PLC's, counters, and
computer cards.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Features of turbine flow meter

Turbine flow meters are used in food processing industry metering of milk, cheese, cream,
syrup, vegetable oils, etc. and also in oil industry automation.

Special form of turbine meter is the bidirectional type, for use in pipes where the flow is liable
to reversed on occasions.

1) turbine meters of sizes above 50 mm, have excellent short term repeatability. If they are
recalibrated at fairly frequent intervals they can be extremely accurate,

2) fairly low pressure drop,

3) easy to install and maintain

4) they do not flow if the meter ceases to function.

5) high cost

6)bearing problems occur with liquids of poor lubricating quality and liquid containing a high
proportion of suspended solids,

7) Calibration characteristic sensitive liquid viscosity variation, the effect is greater in small
turbine meters,

8) the small sizes do not perform well as large sizes because the bearing friction is greater in
small meters.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Magnetic flow meters

The magnetic flow meters are based on Faradays law of induced voltage for conductor
moving through a magnetic field.

In magnetic flow meter, a short section of the

pipe is made of non-conductive material and is
kept in between two poles of a magnet.
The fluid itself acts as the conductor having D (i.e. l =D) dimension equal to the pipe
diameter and velocity v roughly equal to the average fluid velocity. Fluid motion relative to
the field causes a voltage to be induced proportional to the fluid velocity. This emf e is
detected by electrodes placed in the conduit walls.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Magnetic flow meters basic equation

The magnetic flow meters are based on Faradays law of induced voltage for conductor
moving through a magnetic field, expressed by the relation

e Blv
This emf e is detected by electrodes placed in the conduit walls. Then, the flow rate Q is
given by

Q D 2 / 4 v

v e / Bl


Q D 2 e / 4 Bl D / 4 Be K m e

By measuring emf e, the flow rate is calculated. The typical voltage signal measured
across the electrode is 1 mV when the flow rate is 1m/s.
Either an alternative or direct magnetic flux may be used. However, if amplification of the
output is required, the advantage lies with the alternating field.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Feature of magnetic flow meter

The magnetic flow meters, being no invasive type,

can be used in general for any fluid which have a
reasonable electrical conductivity above 10
microsiemen/cm. Fluids like sand water slurry,
sewage, water other than distilled water in large
pipe lines, high viscous fluids especially in food
processing industries.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Advantage and disadvantage magnetic flow meter

The advantages
1) obstruction to the flow is nil therefore can
handle slurries and greasy materials,
2) can handle corrosive fluids,
3) available from 3 mm to 3 m diameter. Hence
capable of handling extremely low and
very high flow rates,
4) very low pressure drop,
5) measurement unaffected by variation in
6) the output is essentially linear,
7) can be used for bidirectional flow or
pulsating flow. For pulsating flow the
frequency of pulsation should be at least
10 times lower than the frequency of
excitation of the fields,
8) highly specialized electromagnetic flow
meters are available for measuring flow in
human blood vessels.

The disadvantages
1)can be used only for fluids which have
reasonable conductivity. Water based liquids
(reasonable conductivity, e.g. above 10
comfortable but hydrocarbon and most
organic liquids( low conductivity e.g. in the
range 0.1 microsiemen/cm) cannot be
metered easily and need sophisticated and
costly electronic devices,
2) The size and cost of the field coils and
circuitry do not increase in proportion to the
size of pie. Consequently small size meters
are bulky and expensive

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Compact Magnetic flow meter

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Wetted Parts: measuring tube and
electrodes, stainless steel; process
connections, Delrin or PVDF
Max. Pressure: 6 bar
Medium Temperature: -10 to +40C
Max. Inaccuracy: +/- 1.5% of actual value
Min. Conductivity: 20 S/cm
Supply Voltage: 24 VDC +/- 10%
Max Current Consumption: 50 mA
Output Signal: flow proportional frequency, square
Electrical Protection: IP 65

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Flanged Magnetic Flow Transmitter

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Vortex shedding flow meters

Vortex shedding meters are based on the fact that when a bluff body (obstructing body)
is placed in a fluid carrying pipe, vortices are alternatively formed, first to one side of the
obstruction and then to the other.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Vortex shedding flow meters

The frequency of formation, f, is function of flow rate. For incompressible fluids


Where St is a calibration constant called the Strouhal number, V flow velocity and D the
obstruction diameter.
Experimental studies indicate that the Strouhal number is relatively constant St = 0.2 over
a very wide range of Reynolds numbers (300 to 150000), then

V 5 fD
So by measuring the frequency f the flow velocity
can be calculated.
The above equation indicates also that small
diameter of obstructing body should be used in
designing the sensor, since they give a higher
frequency for a given flow velocity.
Various thermal, magnetic and ultrasonic
techniques are used to sense the frequency of
vortex formation.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Figure 6.22 Vortex shedding flowmeter operation

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Construction detail of Vortex shedding Flow meter

Figure shows a vortex-shedding flow meter
using a triangular wedge (bluff body) ina pipe.
In order to produce strong and consistent vortex
shedding, the wedge must extend across the full
width of the pipe. Also, the height h of the bluff
body must approximately 1/3 of pipe diameter,
and its length in the direction of flow should be
approximately 1.3 times the height.
The salient edges at the face of the bluff body fix
the location of the vortex shedding, thus giving a
consistent Strouhal number of 0.88 over the
range of Reynolds number from 10000 to
1000000. The housing that supports the
shedding is fitted with strain gages or
piezoelectric sensors. The sensors are mounted
to give two output signals which are out phase of
180. This arrangement gives a good signal-tonoise ratio, since the vortex signals add and the
common noise component cancel.
Such instrument have no moving parts, operate over a wide range of flow, have low power consumption and
require little maintenance. They can measure both liquid and gas flows.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Vortex shedding flow meters

The operation of the Universal
vortex flow meter is based on the
vortex shedding principle. As fluid
moves around a body, vortices
(eddies) are formed and move
downstream. They form alternately,
from one side to the other, causing
pressure fluctuations. These are
sensed by a piezoelectric crystal in
the sensor tube, and are converted
to a 4-20 mA or pulse signal. The
frequency of the vortices is directly
proportional to the flow. This
results in extremely accurate and
repeatable measurements with no
troublesome moving parts.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Ultrasonic Vortex flow meters

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Ultrasonic Vortex flow meters

The flow tube contains a small flat-faced pin called a bluff body that spans the internal
bore. As fluid moves across the bluff body, vortices or eddies are formed and shed
alternately from one side then the other. The vortices form at a rate that is directly
proportional to flow. The formation of the vortices is directly behind the bluff, and the
spacing is the same at all flow rates. The frequency is sensed outside of the flow tube by
directing a beam of ultra-high frequency sound from a transmitter in one leg of the yoke,
through the flow tube wall, through the liquid, and out again to a receiver in the other leg
of the yoke. The received signal is demodulated and the vortex shedding frequency is
computed by a microprocessor and transformed into a 4-20 mA signal.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Ultrasonic flow meters

In ultrasonic flow meters, the measurement of flow rate is determined by the variation in
parameters of ultrasonic waves. There are two types of ultrasonic flow meters currently
in use:

Travel time difference type

Doppler shift flow meter

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

The non-contact ultrasonic flow meter is a noninvasive flow meter available in two formats:
transit time and Doppler. Both technologies
feature clamp on designs with transducer
arrangements that can detect in-situ fluorites
from outside the pipe work, without any
interruption to flow or process. Transit time flow
meters, or also known as 'time of flight' meters
are mainly consigned to the measurement of
clean liquids, although many flow measurement
devices have a maximum tolerance of 5%
solids. The principle behind this type of nonintrusive clamp-on (strap on) flow meter is that
acoustic waves with a frequency of >20kHz are
emitted from one transducer to the other side of
the pipe back to the opposite transducer
requires less time than when traveling in the
opposite direction. The differential transit time of
the synchronized signals is proportional to the
flow rate of the fluid.

Clamp-on flow meter

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Easily installed clamp on flow meter without process interruption;

Minimal installation, low cost and no pressure loss;
Non invasive flow measurement of water and almost any liquid including demineralised water
Pipe Size range: 10-7000mm diameter, most pipe materials and linings;
Ultrasonic flow meters suitable for hazardous areas;
Heat Meter functionality standard on some models
Portable, spool-piece, wetted and dry transducer versions available
Process temperatures of -260C to +260C
Optional Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge also available.
Multiple process analogue and digital inputs (4-20mA, relays, temp,
pressure for any parameter)
Integral datalogger
Models with integral data logger

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Travel time difference type

This device is designed for measuring the flow rate in clean liquids or gases.

It consists of a pair of ultrasonic

transducers (piezoelectric oscillators),
A and B, mounted along an axis
aligned at an angle with respect to the
fluid flow axis and working both as
transmitter and receiver, as shown in
The ultrasonic waves are along the
transmitted from transducer A to
transducer B and vice versa.




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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Travel time difference type Basic equations

Let Tf be the time for ultrasonic wave to travel from transducer A to B and Tb the time to
travel from B to A , then


C V cos

C V cos

The time difference between Tf and Tb is given by

2VL cos
T T f Tb 2
C V 2 cos 2 ( )
Since V is very small compared to C. Hence,

T T f Tb

2VL cos

where, C is the velocity of sound in the

fluid (for water C=1500 m/s), V is the flow
velocity, L is the distance between the
ultrasonic transmitter and receiver, and

is the angle of the ultrasonic

beam with respect to the fluid flow

Therefore measuring the time

difference allows the flow velocity to
be calculated.
The magnitude of this time difference
is 100 ns in a total travel time of 100
s, and high-precision electronic are
therefore needed to measure it.

In this method, C need to be known and also its value might change due to various factors
like temperature, density etc., hence affect the accuracy.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Pulse feedback method

In this method the need to measure
the velocity of sound C in the
measured fluid is not required.
As shown in figure 6.24, two self
excited oscillating systems are
created by using the received
pulses to trigger the transmitted
pulses in feedback arrangement.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Pulse feedback method Basic equations

The pulses repetition frequency in the forward and backward propagation loops are



T f C V cos


Tb C V cos

The frequency difference is

F F f Fb

2V cos

The change in frequency is independent of C and thus not subjected to errors due to
Fmeasurement of
changes in C and the V can be calculated from
This method is practical and forms the basis of many commercially available
ultrasonic flow meters.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Methods of reading the frequency difference

Two methods of reading the frequency difference are available.

sing around method

up and down counter method

In the sing around method, two signals of different frequencies are multiplied
giving an output with sum and difference of frequencies. The difference
frequency is then extracted by filtering.
In the up and down method, the two frequencies are separately
counted for 5 to 20 seconds and then the difference is found out.

In these type of flow meters the transducers are mounted outside the pipe by
mechanical clamping or by adhesive bonds.
This method requires clean fluid to minimize signal attenuation or dispersion.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Doppler shift flow meter

A fundamental requirement of these instruments is

the presence of scattering elements such as solids
particles, air bubbles or eddies in the flowing fluid.

The principle of operation of the Doppler shift

flow meter is shown in figure 6.25. An ultrasonic
wave of frequency Ft (0.5MHz to 20 MHz) is
transmitted into the pipe at angle say . These waves
strikes the particles in the medium and are reflected
by them back to the receiver. Since the particles are
traveling at the fluid velocity, the frequency Fr of the
reflected wave according to Doppler principle

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Doppler principle
Since the particles are traveling at the fluid velocity, the frequency Fr of the reflected
wave according to Doppler principle is given by

Fr Ft

C V cos
C Vcos

Ft Fr 2 Ft
Assuming Ft,


( Ft Fr )
( F Fr )
C t
( Ft Fr ) cos
2 Ft cos

and C constants, the velocity of flow V is proportional to (Ft - Fr).

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

The circuit for ultrasonic Doppler flow meter.

Let the transmitted and the received
waves be given by

y t (t ) A sin(2Ft t )

y r (t ) A sin( 2Fr t )
F Ft Fr

Fr Ft F

y r (t ) A sin[2 ( Ft F )t ]

y y t y r A sin[ 2Ft t ] A sin[ 2 ( Ft F )t ]

a b


sin a sin b 2 sin

y 2 cos(2
t ) A sin( 2Ft t ) as F Ft

This represents the amplitude

modulated wave. The
modulated signal is the
transmitted signal and the
modulating frequency
F /is2

The modulated signal is the addition of the transmitted wave and the reflected wa
This technique is also used for laser Doppler velocity measurement sys

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

The advantage of ultrasonic flow meters are:

1) no obstruction by the meter to the flow & the flow pattern is not

2) velocity/output relationship is linear,

3) fluctuating and pulsating flows can be measured satisfactorily,

4) can be used for measuring the flow of gases as well as highly

viscous liquids and slurries.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Positive displacement meters

Positive displacement meters are essentially flow quantity meters.

They are most widely used for the application where the highest degree of
accuracy and good repeatability are required.

These devices work on the principle that as the liquid flows through the meter,
it separates the flow of liquid into separate known volumetric increments
which are counted and totaled. The sum of the increments give the
measurement of the total volume of liquid passed through the meter.

The mechanical parts of the meter are in the flowing stream and extract
energy from the stream to drive the meter components. The loss of energy
results in pressure drop.

Close mechanical clearances are necessary to minimize leakage from one

measuring chamber to the next. Thus operation is enhanced by the lubricity of
the flowing fluid, and leakage decreases as fluid viscosity increases.

The presence of solid particles in the fluid cause rapid wear and loss of

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Factors for selecting displacement flow meter

The following factors must be considered in the selection of positive
displacement meter:

Type of fluid,
lubricity of the fluid,
proportion of contamination,
required accuracy,
maximum flow rate,
allowable pressure drop.

A strainer is required upstream for each positive displacement meter to

prevent foreign particles entering the meter.
A device for eliminating air and vapor from liquid is also required.

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Commonly used positive displacement flow meters

Some commonly used positive displacement meters for liquid services

rotary vane type,

oscillating piston type,
helix meter,
Oval gear meter,
reciprocating piston type,
notating disc type
lobed impeller meter.

In this section only nutating disc and lobed impeller will be discussed,
for details about positive displacement flow meter see reference [].

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Nutating disc meter

Nutating disc meter is used widely used for residential
water service measurement.

As shown in figure 6.27, a movable element

made up of a disc is mounted on a ball, from the
top of which is shaft perpendicular to the plane
of the disc.
A radial partition in the disc separates inlets from outlet
and divides the metering chamber into four volumes, two
above the disc and two below.
The shaft is held in inclined position by the disc, which is
in contact with the chamber bottom on one side of the
ball and the chamber top on the other side.

Liquid flowing through chamber enters

alternatively above and below the disc, causing
the disc to nutate (but not rotate).
For each cycle, the meter displaces a volume
equal to the volume of the measuring chamber
minus the volume of the disc.
The axial shaft moves in a circular motion and
operates the output shaft through a gear which is
used to drive the recording mechanism. The
nutating disc meter is simple in construction,
economical, and maintain accuracy over a long
period of time.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Lobed impeller meter

Lobed impeller meter is widely used
in measuring and controlling of
petroleum crudes and finished
As shown in figure 6.28, two lobed
impellers are gear synchronized to
rotate in proper relationship with
close clearances but without metal
The impellers rotate in opposite
The measured chambers are formed by
the housing wall and the adjacent rotor
A fixed volume of liquid is displaced for
each revolution, and the impeller shaft
rotation is a measure of flow.

Figure 6.28 Lobed impeller meter

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Hot wire and hot film anemometers

Anemometers are meters commonly used for gas or wind velocity

measurement (i.e. fluctuations at frequencies up to 500 kHz).
Hot wire sensors are fabricated from platinum or platinum iridium alloy. Since
the wire is extremely fragile, hoe wire anemometers are usually used only for
clean air or gas application.
Hot film sensors, on the other hand, are extremely rugged; therefore, they can
be used in both liquid and polluted gas environments.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Anemometers basic equations

Anemometers measure the velocity indirectly by relating power supplied to the sensor
(rate of heat transfer from the sensor to the surrounding cooled fluid) to the velocity of the
fluid in a direction normal to the sensor.
Heat transfer from a heated wire placed in a flow field according to King, who noted that
the heat transfer rate is given by

q A B V a b ia Ra

Where A and B are calibration constants,

a and f

The quantity

are absolute temperature of the anemometer

and the fluid, ia is the current passing through the wire
sensor, and Ra is the resistance of the wire sensor.

a f

is typically maintained constant

Ra R0 [1 (Ta T0 )]

From the two equations it is

evident that the velocity V can
be determined by measuring
either the current ia or the
resistance Ra

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Methods for measuring velocity

Two methods are used to measure the velocity namely,


Constant current bridge anemometer

Constant temperature bridge anemometer.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Constant current type anemometer

Figure shows a constant current bridge
with a hot wire (or hot film) anemometer
as the sensor.
The resistance R 4 is used initially to
balance the bridge at zero velocity.
Any flow past the sensor cools the hot wire
(or film), decrease the resistance, and
unbalanced the bridge.
The unbalanced produces an output
voltage v0 which is related to the fluid
velocity V.
Because the output voltage from the
bridge is small, it must be amplified before
it is recorded or processed.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Constant temperature type anemometer

Figure 6.29 shows a constant temperature hotwire or hot film anemometer, ideal steady-flow
The resistance R 4 is used initially to balance the
bridge at zero velocity. As flow past the sensor
the hot-wire (or hot film) cools, its resistance Ra
decreases and the bridge becomes unbalanced.
Balance is restored by adjusting the
potentiometer to increase the input voltage to the
The increased supply voltage increases the
current flowing through the sensor and increases
both sensor temperature and resistance until the
bridge is balanced.
Under condition of constant sensor temperature
and resistance, equation reduces to


So by measuring the current i passing through the sensor the

velocity of flow can be determined using the above equation. The
current i is easily measured by recording the voltage drop across the
resistance R2 in the bridge.

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Chapter 6 Flow Rate Measurement

Problems encountered using anemometer

Some problems arise when hot wire or hot film sensors are used in
liquids which carry dirty particles, lint or organic matter.

These materials quickly coat the hot wire or film and cause
significant reduction in heat transfer and lead to change in the