As technology has advanced flow measurement has become more and more important across a wide range of industries. Factories, refineries and even nuclear power plants all rely on flow measurement to reduce waste, maximize profit and guarantee safety.
How flow is measured
A device that measures flow is called a flow meter. There are many different types of flow meter including mechanical types, pressure-based devices, electromagnetic, light, ultrasound and laser.
One common type of simple flow meter is the positive displacement meter. The diaphragm gas flow meter is a commonly used example of this type of device. To understand how it works you could take a cup and a wrist watch and use them to measure the flow of water from a kitchen tap in cups per minute.
Piston meters are another popular type of flow meter widely used for domestic water measurement. Piston meters work by counting the rotation of a piston suspended in a container.
Measuring flow can be a complex problem, especially on large scales, in closed systems or when dealing with hazardous or volatile substances. A gas flow meter, for example, needs to be able to compensate for differences in temperature and pressure that affect the volume of the gas.
Selecting the right flow meter
When selecting a flow meter it is important to consider the nature of the material to be measured and environmental factors such as temperature or potential exposure to damaging elements. The need for large volumes or high levels of accuracy may drive the selection of more complex devices such as an ultrasound gas flow meter. Cost comparisons should include installation, on-going maintenance and re-calibration – especially where accuracy is important.
Selecting the right flow meter and making sure it is correctly installed and maintained isn’t just important to reduce waste and maximize profit, sometimes it can be the difference between life and death.
Picture: johas – Fotolia