A flow meter, also known as a flow sensor or flow gauge, is a unique device used to measure the nonlinear, linear, volumetric, or mass flow rate of a gas or liquid. You’ll often see flow meters used to measure open channels, such as streams or rivers, or liquids and gases flowing through pipes. You can purchase one at any reputable distributor, for example, RS Components.
Using a flow meter is an excellent way to improve your fluid measurements’ resolution, accuracy, and precision. If you work in an industry where pin-point accuracy is vital, you’ll need a quality flow meter.
There are a few different types of flow meter, including:
- Electromagnetic flow meters
- Ultrasonic flow meters
- Vortex water flow meters
- Turbine water flow meters
- Thermal mass flow meters
This article will discuss some key applications of flow meters and describe their common usages within each industry.
Oil and Gas
Oil and gas workers will commonly use thermal flow meters to measure and monitor:
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Exhaust flow
- Natural gas
- Methane flow
- Propane flow
- Combustor and flare gas
- Other mixed and pure gases
In the oil and gas industry, precise measurement ensures the company meets strict regulations and can quickly detect and repair leaks. If you work in oil and gas, you may benefit from a high-quality mass flow meter (for measuring mass and density flow) or electromagnetic flow meter (for measuring liquid flow with a low gas concentration).
You’ll also find flow meters commonly used in building automation applications across energy management and flow measurement projects.
In particular, the building automation industry will use flow gauges to:
- Monitor hot water consumption
- Monitor secondary and primary heat exchanger flow
- Optimise water chilling
- Optimise energy balancing
- Optimise chemical addition
- Otherwise control water and energy flow
Depending on the type of measurement required, you’ll need a different kind of flow meter. For example, you’ll often find ultrasonic flow meters used to optimise energy balancing. Similarly, electromagnetic flow meters are commonly used to optimise chemical additions.
A water flow meter is an essential tool in wastewater management. Electromagnetic flow meters are the clear choice in this industry because the measured liquid must be conductive or water-based.
Because electromagnetic flow meters feature virtually zero pressure loss, they are an excellent choice for measuring viscous, dense media. You’ll find these specialised instruments used to measure raw water and wastewater sludge.
The wastewater management industry also commonly uses ultrasonic flow meters where accuracy is less critical. Ultrasonic flow meters are portable and unintrusive when compared when electromagnetic flow meters.
If you choose between ultrasonic and magnetic flow meters, magnetic flow meters are a better option if the solid and gas content is high. Solids and gases can dampen an ultrasonic transit-time meter’s sound pulse.
Combining a level transmitter with a magnetic flow meter is an excellent option for effluent system and open channel sludge applications.
Flow meters are an essential tool used across a broad range of industrial applications, such as wastewater management, oil and gas, and building automation. Choosing the correct type of flow meter for your business will depend on the industry you work in and the type of measurements you need to make.