Different Types of Flowmeters Flowmeters are devices used to measure the flow rate of different liquids, steam or gases in a line. They come in different types, such as mechanical, ultrasonic, and magnetic flowmeters.
Mechanical flowmeters use a positive displacement flow measuring device to determine the volume of the fluid passing through. Ultrasonic flowmeters use an ultrasonic sensor to determine the velocity of the fluid, while thermal flowmeters use heat to measure the flow rate. Orifice plates and magnetic flowmeters are some of the most common types of flowmeters used in industry.
Understanding the different types of flowmeters and their principles of operation is essential to selecting the right measuring device for a particular application.
What is a Flow Meter?
A flow meter is a device that measures the amount of liquid, steam or gas that passes through a specific point in a pipe or conduit. It is used in various industries to monitor and control the flow of fluids in pipelines, such as water, oil , gas, or chemicals.
Flow meters can be mechanical, electronic, or ultrasonic, and they work by measuring the velocity, volume, or mass of the fluid.
Flow meters are essential for ensuring that fluid flow rates remain within acceptable limits. And they help prevent damage to equipment and systems due to overloading or underloading. They are also critical in maintaining product quality and process efficiency.
Types of Flowmeters
There are various types of flowmeters used to measure fluid flow, including mechanical, electronic, and ultrasonic. Each type measures the flow rate of a fluid in a different way. Each type of flowmeter has its advantages and disadvantages.
We’ll take a look at the 5 main types of flowmeters that can be found on the market today. Includes differential pressure flowmeters, velocity flowmeters, positive displacement flowmeters, mass flowmeters and open channel flowmeters. More types of flowmeters from Wikipedia.
Differential Pressure (DP) Flowmeters
Differential Pressure (DP) Flowmeters measure fluid flow by detecting the pressure drop across an throttle placed in the flow path, such as an orifice plate, venturi tube, or flow nozzle. The greater the flow rate, the higher the pressure drop, and the flow rate can be calculated based on the pressure difference. DP Flowmeters are widely used due to their simplicity and low cost, and they can be used to measure both liquids and gases.
There are several types of DP Flowmeters, each with its unique design and advantages. Here are some of the most common types:
- Orifice Plate Flowmeters: They have a circular plate with a hole in the middle that creates a pressure drop as the fluid flows through it.
- Venturi Flowmeters: They have a conical shape that narrows down the flow path, which causes an increase in fluid velocity and a decrease in pressure.
- Flow Nozzle Flowmeters: They have a converging inlet section, a throat section, and a diverging outlet section that create a pressure drop across the nozzle.
- Pitot Tubes: They measure the fluid velocity by detecting the pressure difference between the stagnation point and the point where the fluid flow is parallel to the tube’s axis.
Each type of DP Flowmeter has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on the specific application requirements.
Positive Displacement (PD) Flowmeters
Positive Displacement (PD) Flowmeters measure fluid flow by trapping and measuring the amount of fluid that moves through the meter. The principle of operation is based on the movement of the fluid through a chamber of fixed volume, causing a displacement of the fluid. The flow rate is calculated based on the number of times the chamber is filled and emptied. PD Flowmeters are highly accurate and suitable for measuring low flow rates of both viscous and non-viscous liquids.
There are several types of PD Flowmeters, each with its unique design and advantages. Here are some of the most common types, along with their advantages and disadvantages:
|Type of PD Flowmeter||Principle of Operation||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Piston Flowmeters||Use a piston moving inside a chamber to measure fluid flow.||Highly accurate; Suitable for low to high viscosity fluids||Not suitable for measuring fluids with suspended solids|
|Oval Gear Flowmeters||Two oval gears rotating in opposite directions||Highly accurate; Suitable for low to medium viscosity fluids||Affected by fluid temperature and viscosity changes|
|Nutating Disc Flowmeters||A disc that “nutates” or wobbles to trap and measure fluid flow||Highly accurate; Suitable for low viscosity fluids||Affected by fluid temperature changes|
|Rotary Vane Flowmeters||A rotor with vanes that rotate inside a chamber||Highly accurate; Suitable for low to high viscosity fluids||Not suitable for measuring fluids with suspended solids|
More details about: PD Flow Meters Selection and Application | Oil-Liquid
Velocity Flowmeters measure fluid flow by determining the velocity of the fluid as it flows through the meter. The principle of operation is based on the relationship between the velocity of the fluid and the pressure difference created by the fluid’s motion. Velocity Flowmeters are commonly used for measuring high flow rates of fluids such as water, steam, and gases, and they are often less expensive than other types of flowmeters.
Here are some of the most common types of Velocity Flowmeters along with their advantages and disadvantages:
|Type of Velocity Flowmeter||Principle of Operation||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Turbine Flowmeters||Turbine rotor spins as fluid flows through it||Highly accurate; Suitable for clean fluids with low to medium viscosity||Affected by changes in fluid density, temperature, and viscosity|
|Electromagnetic Flowmeters||Faraday’s Law to measure voltage generated by fluid flow through a magnetic field||Highly accurate; Suitable for measuring conductive fluids such as water and acids||Not suitable for measuring non-conductive fluids|
|Vortex Flowmeters||Measure fluid flow using the principle of the Karman vortex street||Highly accurate; Suitable for clean fluids with low to medium viscosity||Can be affected by changes in fluid density|
|Ultrasonic Flowmeters||Use ultrasonic sensors to measure the time it takes for an ultrasonic signal to travel between two points in the fluid flow||Highly accurate; Suitable for measuring fluids of different viscosities, densities, and conductivities||Often more expensive than other types of flowmeters|
Mass Flowmeters measure the mass flow rate of fluids passing through them, rather than measuring volume or velocity. They work on the principle of thermal dispersion or Coriolis effect, and they can measure the flow rate of both liquids and gases accurately. Mass Flowmeters are highly sensitive and provide accurate readings even with changes in fluid properties, making them ideal for a wide range of industrial applications.
Coriolis Meters measure fluid flow using the Coriolis effect. The meter consists of a vibrating tube, and as the fluid flows through the tube, it causes a change in the tube’s vibration frequency, which is measured by sensors.
The advantages of Coriolis meters include high accuracy and stability, excellent repeatability, and the ability to measure a wide range of fluids, including liquids and gases.
However, they can be costly, and their performance can be affected by the presence of solid particles or gas bubbles.
Thermal Mass Flow Meters:
Thermal Mass Flow Meters measure the mass flow rate of fluids by detecting the heat transfer from a heated element to the fluid. As the fluid flows over the heated element, it cools it down, and the change in temperature is measured by temperature sensors.
The advantages of Thermal Mass Flow Meters include high accuracy, the ability to measure both liquids and gases, and their simplicity of design.
However, they can be affected by changes in fluid temperature and viscosity, and they may require recalibration if the fluid properties change.
Open Channel Flowmeters
Open Channel Flowmeters are used to measure the flow rate of liquids in open channels, such as rivers, streams, and irrigation canals. They work by using a primary device, such as a flume or weir, to create a constriction in the channel, which causes the liquid to rise and flow through the device. The flow rate is then determined by measuring the height of the liquid above the device and using a formula to calculate the flow rate.
|Type of Flowmeter||Principle of Operation||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Flumes||Specially designed constriction||High accuracy, low cost, ease of installation||Affected by changes in channel shape, require certain amount of head loss|
|Weirs||Sharp-crested structure||High accuracy, low cost, ease of installation||Affected by changes in channel shape, require certain amount of head loss|
|Area-Velocity Meters||Measure velocity at multiple points and combine with cross-sectional area||High accuracy, measure flow rates in irregular channels, measure both forward and reverse flow||More complex and costly than other open channel flow meters|
|Ultrasonic Doppler Meters||Use sound waves to measure velocity||High accuracy, measure flow rates in irregular channels, measure both forward and reverse flow||Affected by changes in liquid’s acoustic properties, may require calib|
How to select a flow meter?
Here are some of the key parameters that can affect the selection of a flowmeter for a particular application:
- Fluid type and properties, such as viscosity, density, and corrosiveness
- Flow rate range and required accuracy
- Operating conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and fluid velocity
- Installation requirements, such as the orientation and size of the pipe
- Availability of power or signal inputs for the flowmeter
- Environmental conditions, such as the presence of hazardous or explosive materials
- Required maintenance and calibration intervals
- Compatibility with existing control systems or instrumentation
- Cost and budget considerations.
Here are some recommendations for selecting flowmeters for specific fluid applications:
It’s important to note that the selection of a flowmeter should be based on the specific needs of the application, and factors such as accuracy, repeatability, cost, and installation requirements should be considered when making a selection.
More Flow Measurement Technologies and Applications
In conclusion, the proper selection and use of Types of Flowmeters are crucial for accurate and reliable measurement of fluid flow in various industrial processes. Each types of flowmeter has its own advantages and limitations, which should be carefully considered before making a decision. However, Sino-Inst, as a leading manufacturer of flowmeters, has various advantages that make it an ideal choice for customers in need of high-quality flow measurement solutions.
With years of experience and expertise, Sino-Inst offers a wide range of flowmeters, including differential pressure, positive displacement, velocity, mass, and open-channel flowmeters, to meet different application needs. Additionally, Sino-Inst provides customized solutions, comprehensive technical support, and excellent after-sales services to ensure customer satisfaction.
Whether you need a flowmeter for liquid, gas, or steam applications, Sino-Inst has the right solution for you. We are committed to providing the best products and services to help our customers improve their processes and achieve their goals. Contact us today to learn more about our flowmeters and how we can help you.
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Wu Peng, born in 1980, is a highly respected and accomplished male engineer with extensive experience in the field of automation. With over 20 years of industry experience, Wu has made significant contributions to both academia and engineering projects.
Throughout his career, Wu Peng has participated in numerous national and international engineering projects. Some of his most notable projects include the development of an intelligent control system for oil refineries, the design of a cutting-edge distributed control system for petrochemical plants, and the optimization of control algorithms for natural gas pipelines.