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How Do Flow Meters Work - Flowmeter Types And Operation

Jul 20, 2008
Liquids and gases passing through a tube or pipe often need to be measured to determine the rate at which they are moving. They are generally measured in terms of their volume or their mass. A volumetric flow rate reading is meters to the power of three divided by time. The mass flow rate is kg's divided by time.

There is a diverse range of uses for flow meters. They have applications for individuals, a common one being to help people with asthma. A peak flow meter measures the lung capacity when someone exhales. This can help to predict an imminent asthma attack.

Other than that, flow meters are used in many industries, like the food processing industry, water management, semi conductor fabrication and many others. This article will give a brief overview of how flow meters work.

There are a wide variety of types of flow meters. They are generally classified by what they do or how they operate. For instance, a mass flow meter is a general classification of flow meter that determines the flow rate of a medium in terms of mass even though the operating principles for each meter may be different.

The Coriolis flow meter in an example of the principle determining the name. The Coriolis effect is the force that a liquid experiences in a circular motion. In the flow meter, vibrating pipes cause the liquid to move in a circular motion. If the wave motion of the vibrating pipes is known before the liquid passes through the pipes then the flow rate of the liquid can be determined.

Ultrasonic and Doppler shift flow meters also use the changes caused to sound waves to correlate a rate of flow for the medium passing through the meter.

The ultrasonic flow meter transmits two ultrasonic waves in opposite directions of a pipe where a liquid or gas is flowing.

The ultrasonic waves are recorded by receivers at opposite ends of the pipe. One wave is sent in the direction of the flow of the liquid to be measured. The other wave is sent in the opposite direction to the flow.

If various constants are known about the metal of the pipe and the liquid or gas passing through the pipe, a rate of flow can be derived from the time it takes each sound wave to reach the receiver.

Doppler shift flow meters use the changes in the frequency and amplitude of a sound wave when it bounces off particulate matter in the liquid that is being measured to determine the flow rate.

A more traditional type of flow meter is the variable area flow meter that uses a float in a calibrated tube. When a substance passes through the tube, the float is displaced by the flow.

By taking the reading from the calibrated tube an indication of the flow rate can be determined. This is the principle of the peak flow meter used for lung capacity and asthma.
About the Author
Learn more about flow meters , specifically on portable flow meters at http://www.flowmetermatters.com .
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