Archive | February, 2016

Are there any size limitations?

    When specifying flowmeters how does size affect meter selection?

  1. Can you specify the available pipe length? Some installations are very limited on installation length and meter selection can be pivotal. Assume that the number straight lengths before and after the meter (but, see below) isn’t relevant for the moment and all meters are available: If there’s only 1 diameter of straight pipe then the PD meter is probably the Number 1 choice. There’s likely very little room so larger meters like the Coriolis, which is a ‘bulky’ technology, are too long, even if they, too, need no straight lengths: that’s not strictly true but that’s another story entirely.
  2. Width: Does the unit have to fit in a narrow space? Perhaps there’s a wall one side -the meter can’t overhang that side, but is it then facing the right way?
  3. Does the installation space enable the unit to be provided with a local display – which is facing the right way? or will it need to be a remote mounted version?
  4. Is there access for maintenance? Is that all important termination panel just in front of you or is it tucked beyond a stem in a dingy corner of the installation. How good are you at holding a mirror?
  5. If it’s remote mounted – how far away can the display be? ie. what’s limit on the length of cable?
  6. If it’s remote mounted – is that panel mount, wall mount or post mount? Any special mounting considerations like weight, panel size, panel thickness?
  7. Height If it’s not a length or width then height might be an issue. Perhaps the meter can be/ needs to be installed upside down? Maybe there’s a bunch of pipe in close proximity.
  8. Are there weight limitations? On vehicle and aerospace installations the weight can be an overriding factor in meter selection. Are there weight reduction regimes? Changing the connection type or reducing a flow meter size or changing to a lightweight material can have significant effects on weight. A threaded turbine meter can be a tenth of the weight of a flanged coriolis.
  9. Does the meter type require straight lengths before (and after) the meter? Some meters are better than others. Some are much worse than others. A turbine meter needs a minimum 10 lengths before the meter and 5 lengths after. Orifice plates are meant to have more before depending on prior pipe configuration to ensure swirl is minimised.
  10. What comes before the straight lengths? If its two bends in 2 different planes then that’s a great recipe for swirl. Up to 100 lengths of pipe after that will be required to eliminate the swirl.
  11. What methods can reduce pipe lengths? One valid suggestion is to use flow straighteners or plates. These can be as little as 1 diameter long, but with a pressure loss, knock out some flow profile imperfections. They aren’t necessarily commercially available nor cheap. Perhaps, have a look at another measurement technique?

All in all consult the specialists.
Ten top tips for flowmeter selection

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Do you know your fluid?

Do you know your fluid? Is it what you think it is? Is it from a known source?

Viscosity, varies with temperature. Is flow measurement going to be affected by viscosity change due to temperature anyway? Might be if the temperature range is large and it’s a Variable Area meter… Will the fluid be changed through the life of the system, introducing different viscosities; meter choice is important here.
Viscosity change over time. due to volatility of light compounds it’s likely, especially if exposed to the atmosphere, that viscosity will increase over time. Possibly if water is leaking into the flow stream or condensation in the process that the viscosity will decrease.
Viscosity changes due to pressure. These are known but fairly small changes compared with temperature effects. Viscosity can double between atmospheric pressure and 2,500bar.
Specific Gravity, Density. These are often quoted in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). For some flowmeters it’s irrelevant, especially if the measurement principle is volumetric; for others, like VA it’s fundamental. And remember density changes with temperature. In general, if you want a mass flow rate or total then use a mass flowmeter (and vice versa).
Thixotropic? A shear sensitive liquid can be tricky for some measurement principles. To preserve the fluid at normal viscosity the rate may have to radically reduced. Typical thixotropic liquids encountered are paints. When stirred they change from a ‘gel’ to a more free flowing liquid.
Corrosion issues: chemical compatibility. Perhaps the first property that is investigated in meter selection is the chemical nature of the fluid being measured. Is it going to corrode any of the components or will it react with the materials and change some dimensions or shape? If a table found on the internet indicates that polypropylene is ‘compatible’ with fluid X will it be suitable for some close fitting parts where just a 1% expansion will stop the meter going round. 1% may indicate, to some people, that it is compatible.
Build up, formation. Slow or fast deposition on the inside of the pipe and other, more sensitive parts, inside a flowmeter may affect the internal diameter used for rate calculations on velocity based devices or the weight of a rotating part or simply stop a part meshing or rotating.
Solids content and solids size. Generally expressed as a percentage, the amount of particulate and the size of that particulate will govern the metering method. And it may not be obviously so. Some of the latest paints have small amounts of additive to give the paint a special quality. These will block a tightly toleranced PD meter or it’s bearings.
Filter size. Is it filtered? Is the filter mesh in the filter bowl or has it been removed because it keeps clogging up?! What level of filtration, NAS class, mesh size, is designed in and what level has been achieved. Is it well filtered but then stored in an open container?
Lubricity. This parameter is frequently ignored and frequently not known. It can have an effect on some flowmeters.
Homogeneous? It’s usually taken for granted that fluids are homogenous i.e. the same consistency at any point. A typical non-homogeneity is air entrainment, perhaps a few bubbles or a stream of bubbles. In extremis, this might be slugs of air passing through. Most flowmeters can’t cope with this phenomena but some make a decent estimation and more than a few will recover after the air passes.
Anodic acceleration of corrosion. This problem occurs when the fluid acts in concert with two dissimilar materials in the pipeline – for example, the flowmeter body and the pipework. The measured fluid acts as an electrolyte, depositing or removing material depending whether the materials act as anodes or cathodes. In some instances another wetted part may see accelerated corrosion.

All in all, consult the specialists. www.litremeter.com

Ten top tips for flowmeter selection.

Sign up for FlowSight, the Litre Meter newsletter.