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## Flow Meter Choices For Domestic And Industrial Use

Flow meters are devices used to measure the gas or liquid flowing through it. They are used in a variety of applications where flow measurement is required to check for leaks, control pressure and even prevent asthma attacks in asthma patients.

Devices are classified according to drive systems, among which are mechanical, ultrasonic, pressure and electromagnetic. Let’s see how they work.

Mechanical flow meters

These are traditional devices that are still used today. The basic types use turbines or wheels inserted in the pipes to measure the speed and calculate the volumetric flow rate using the area on the pipes where they are located.

Mechanical flow meters can be of various types, common examples being reciprocating meters – which use rotating pistons – gear meters – which use a pair or more of two gears rotating at right angles – and single jet meters – which use rotors to increase and decrease fluid flow.

Ultrasonic flowmeters

Ultrasonic flowmeters have several advantages over their mechanical counterparts. They can be used to measure all kinds of liquids – including molten sulphur, water and chemicals – as long as the speed of sound can be calculated. Since they do not use mechanical parts, the maintenance of such devices is relatively low. They are also much more reliable than mechanical systems and faster to use, as they do not need to be inserted into the pipe, but only screwed to the outside.

Doppler and transit are two types of ultrasound meters. Both use transducers to measure flow, but in different ways. Doppler affects the frequency shift as disturbances in the fluid affect the reflection. This displacement is equal to the flow. On the other hand, transit meters have transducers that transmit signals through the volume of liquid from opposite sides. The time difference between the two signals gives the flow rate.

Pressure based flow meters

In pressure-based flowmeters, the flow is determined by the differential or dynamic pressure. Pitot tubes, conical gauges, and Dall tubes are some examples of devices.

When differential pressure is applied, the tube is constricted to create a pressure drop. The more liquid is introduced, the more pressure is created. The flow rate is determined by considering the difference in upstream and downstream pressure values.

Dynamic pressure is derived by measuring the difference between static (the pressure at the stagnation point) and stagnation pressure (the point where the viscosity of the liquid is zero).

Electromagnetic flow meters

As is obvious, electromagnetic meters use magnetic fields to determine flow. When a magnetic field is created in a section of pipe, the conductive particles of the fluid create voltage changes. This change is used to measure the flow rate.

Such meters are ideal for measuring certain water-based liquids such as waste water, but are not suitable for hydrocarbons, oil and distilled water.

There are many variables to consider when choosing flow meters. Since one type may not work with certain gases or liquids, choosing the wrong device is a costly waste. Questions such as the type of liquid/gas to be measured, the viscosity (in the case of non-aqueous liquids) and the amount of impurities must be answered. Piping is another factor to decide on in terms of size, material, up/down bends and valves. Finally, determining how the flow rate should be represented, ie. or in volumetric units or mass, will affect the type of gauge that will be used.

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