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Flow Measurement

By: Ishan Khera Assistant Professor (ECE) Sharda University

Flow Meters
Flow meters are a device used to measure the rate of fluid movement at a given point in the pipe or tube. The flow meter is usually secured to a break in the pipe and the fluid is allowed to move through it.

Need of flow measurement

Measurement of volumetric flow rate and mass flow rate are

necessary for the purpose of determining the proportions of

the materials introduced to a process and the amount of materials produced in the process.

Flow measurements are essential in many applications such

Transportation of solids as slurries

Compressed natural gas in pipelines

Water and gas supply system to domestic consumers Irrigation systems and a number of industrial process control


Types of flow encountered

Clean or dirty/opaque Wet or dry

Hazardous/corrosive or safe
Single-phase, two phase or multiphase Laminar or transitional or turbulent Pressure may vary from vacuums to high pressure of many atmospheres Temperature may vary from cryogenic levels to hundreds of centigrade. Flow rate may range from few drops per minute to thousands of liters per minute.

Measurement of Volume Flow Rate

Volumetric flow is given by: Q=A*v Where, Q = Volumetric flow rate (m3/sec) A = Cross-sectional Area (m2) v = Average fluid velocity (m/sec) Differential Pressure flow meters Differential pressure flow meters use Bernoulli's equation to measure the flow of fluid in a pipe. They are most widely used flow meters for liquids and gases. A restriction is placed in the pipe and the differential pressure developed across the restriction is measured. The differential pressure output is calibrated in terms of volume flow rate.

Differential Pressure Flow Meters

Principle of Operation
Bernoulli's "Theory of Conservation of Mass" states that the sum of static energy (pressure head), kinetic energy (velocity head) and potential energy (elevation head) of the fluid are conserved in the flow across the constriction in a pipe and by

continuity. This may be defined as:

P/ + v2 /2 + Zg = Constant Where, P = Pressure, N/m2 v = Average velocity, m/sec = Fluid Density, kg/m3 A = Area of cross-section, m2 Z = Elevation above datum, m

Applying this equation in the figure shown in previous slide.

P1/ + v12 /2 + Z1g = P2/ + v22 /2 + Z2g ..(1)

Assumptions made in calculating the volume flow rate

The flow is frictionless. It means there is no loss of energy in the fluid itself or between the fluid and the pipe walls. There is no heat losses or gains due to heat transfer between the fluid and its surroundings. There is conservation of total energy (pressure + kinetic + potential) at any point of

The fluid is incompressible, i.e. 1 = 2 = The pipe is horizontal, i.e. Z1 = Z2. It means that equation (1) reduces to v22 v12/2 = P1 - P2/ Conservation of volume flow rate, Q1 = Q2 = Q also, Q1 = A1v1 and Q2 = A2v2

Assumptions (Contd.)
Since A2 < A1, it follows that v2 > v1 and P2 < P1. Therefore, the theoretical value of volume flow rate in a differential pressure flow meter (venturi and Orifice) is :

Reynolds's Number
In many applications, the knowledge of type of flow is very important. The flow can be turbulent or laminar. All fluids have a force of friction, called viscosity, which tends to inhibit the formation of turbulent eddies and vortices and maintain streamline flow.

Reynolds's number is given by:

Re = d/


Re = Reynolds's number = velocity of flow; m/s d = diameter of pipe throat or orifice; m = density of fluid; kg/m3 = viscosity; Ns/m2

Reynolds's Number (Contd.)

Reynolds's number is dimensionless. It is used to compare the flows in geometrically similar installations but with different flow conditions. It provides information regarding where streamline flow ceases and turbulent flow begins. It has been found experimentally that the flow is streamline or laminar for Reynolds's number less than 2000 and turbulent flow increases as Reynolds's number increases from 2000. Flow becomes complete turbulent for Reynolds's number greater than 105.

The theoretical value of volume flow rate always differs from the actual flow rate due to two main reasons:
The frictionless flow is never occurred in pipe. It is true for turbulent flows in smooth pipe where friction losses are small. The laminar and turbulence flows are characterized by Reynolds's number. A1 and A2 are the cross-sectional areas of the pipe and the restriction respectively. The cross-sectional area of the pipe is D2/4 and the crosssectional area of the meter is d2/4, where D and d are the respective

However the area of minimum cross-section will be given by: A2 = 0.99 d2/4 for a venturi

A2 = 0.6 d2/4 for orifice plate

Therefore the theoretical expression of volume flow rate is corrected as:

Where, C = discharge coefficient = Flow meter pipe diameter ratio, d/D A2 = Flow meter cross-sectional area d2/4

Dependency of the values of discharge co-efficient

Type of flow meter e.g. orifice or venturi. Reynolds's Number, Re Diameter ratio Therefore, for a given flow meter C = f(Re, ). Values of C are found out experimentally, for several types of flow meters, over a wide range of fluid velocities.

General Features of Differential Pressure Flow Meter

1. It has no moving parts and therefore it is robust, reliable and easy to maintain and widely established.

2. There is always a permanent pressure loss and the extra

pumping energy is necessary to overcome it. 3. Both venturi and orifice meter are non-linear. Volumetric flow rate is proportional to square root of pressure differential. This limits the useful range of a meter in between 25% and 100% of full scale output reading. At lower flows, the differential pressure measurement is below 6% of full scale output reading and is not accurate enough for measurement.

Differential Pressure Distribution in the Pipe

Non Linearity of Flow Rate

Error in Measurement of Flow rates

General Features (Contd.)

4. It can be used for turbulent flow.

A typical flow meter consists of the differential

pressure sensor and differential pressure transmitter,

Data Acquisition System (DAS) and a PC. The

transmitter gives a current output signal (4 to 20 mA). The DAS consists of an amplifier, Current to Voltage converter and Analog to Digital Converter (ADC).

Orifice Meter
The thin plate square-edge orifice is the most

widely used differential pressure flow meter in

process industry, mainly because of its
Simplicity Low Cost

Moreover it is well established over the years and

the data are available for its behavior.

Type of Orifice Plates

Orifice Plates
The concentric orifice is the most widely used plate. The eccentric and segmented orifices are employed to

measure the flows of fluids containing solids. In both

cases the bottom of the hole is located in a way that the bottom of the hole is at the same level inside bottom of the pipe installation. These two orifice plates need separate calibration, because the discharge co-efficients

differ from that of concentric orifice.

Orifice Plates (Contd.)

The concentric orifice plate is installed in the pipe with its hole concentric to
the pipe. It is a flat metal circular plate made of steel, stainless steel, phosphor bronze. Its thickness is only sufficient to withstand the buckling forces caused by the differential pressure exists across the plate. The circular hole is made with 90, square and sharp edge upstream. Change of sharp edge will modify the discharge co-efficient of the orifice meter. It is advisable to replace the orifice during routine maintenance of the plant for better accuracy of the measurement.

Orifice Pressure Taps

Flange Tap

It is constructed so that taps for measuring

differential pressures are integral part of the

orifice plate assembly. The pressure taps are

usually located 2.5 cm either side of the orifice plate. The advantage of the flange taps is that the entire orifice assembly is easily replaceable and the pressure taps are accurately located.

Orifice Pressure Taps (Contd.)

D and D/2 taps

Orifice Pressure Taps (Contd.)

Vena-Contracta Tap

Vena-Contracta Tap
It is arranged in a way so that the downstream

pressure tap is located at a variable distance from

the orifice, depending on the pipe and the orifice size. The upstream tap is at one pipe diameter and the downstream tap is at the vena-contracta. In vena-contracta tap the pressure differential is a

maximum for a given flow rate.

Restrictions of the pipe fitting adjacent to Orifice meter

The discharge co-efficient is experimentally determined on straight pipe. Flow disturbances in the pipe line adjacent to orifice alter the value of

discharge co-efficient.
Therefore elbow, pipe bend, tee, valve are not allowed near the orifice. There should be no fitting close to five pipe diameter from the orifice on the

downstream. There should not be any fittings closer than twenty pipe
diameters up stream. If the minimum distance is not feasible, specially in upstream, flow straightners can be installed. The flow straightners are bundle of smaller tubes welded inside the pipe.

Flow Nozzle/Dall Tube

The flow nozzle, venturi tube and dall flow tube have the same principle as the orifice. Dall tube is a modified venturi tube and it has low permanent pressure loss. The flow nozzle are more expensive than the orifice meter but cheaper than venturi meter. It is also a variation of venturi in which the exit section is omitted so that it is similar to an orifice with a well rounded up stream edge. The upstream tap is at about one pipe diameter from the entrance to the nozzle. The down stream tap is made on the pipe opposite to the straight portion of the nozzle.

Flow Nozzle

Dall Tube

Flow Nozzle/Dall Tube (Contd.)

Flow nozzle are used for high velocity stream flows and it is dimensionally more stable at high temperature and velocity than an orifice. The permanent pressure loss in the flow nozzle is same as orifice.

Venturi Tube

Venturi Meter
Venturi Meter is an expensive instrument but offers very good accuracy ( 1%). It has a lowest permanent pressure loss. Construction of Venturi Tube: It is made of cast iron or steel. The large venturi tube is made of concrete. Sometimes the throat is made of bronze. Upstream section has an angle of 20 and downstream section has a pressure of 7. The pressure taps are made of piezometer rings so as to average the measurement around the periphery.

Construction of Venturi Tube (Contd.)

The diameter ratio for the venturi typically lies between 0.25 and 0.50. It has almost no maintenance requirement and its

working life is very long.

It is widely used in high flow situations such as

municipal water system where large savings of pumping

cost are possible due to low permanent pressure loss across it.

Venturi Tube (Contd.)

The smooth internal shape of the venturi tube

means it is unaffected by solid particles or

gaseous bubbles in flowing fluid and in fact it can measure the flow of liquid contain slurries. Its range is extremely high. It is possible to measure the water flow rate as high as 1.5 x 106