Flowmeters are devices that measure the amount of liquid, gas or vapor that passes through them. Some flowmeters measure flow as the amount of fluid passing through the flowmeter during a time period (such as 100 liters per minute). Other flowmeters measure the totalized amount of fluid that has passed through the flowmeter (such as 100 liters).
Flowmeters consist of a primary device, transducer and transmitter. The transducer senses the fluid that passes through the primary device. The transmitter produces a usable flow signal from the raw transducer signal. These components are often combined, so the actual flowmeter may be one or more physical devices.
Flow measurement can be described by
Q = A · v, which means that the volume of fluid passing through a flowmeter is equal to the crosssectional area of the pipe (A) times the average velocity of the fluid (v); and
W = r · Q, which means that the mass flow of fluid passing through a flowmeter (A) is equal to the fluid density (r) times the volume of the fluid (Q).
Volumetric flowmeters directly measure the volume of fluid (Q) passing through the flowmeter. The only flowmeter technology that measures volume directly is the positive displacement flowmeter.
Velocity flowmeters utilize techniques that measure the velocity (v) of the flowing stream to determine the volumetric flow. Examples of flowmeter technologies that measure velocity include magnetic, turbine, ultrasonic, and vortex shedding and fluidic flowmeters.
Mass flowmeters utilize techniques that measure the mass flow (W) of the flowing stream. Examples of flowmeter technologies that measure mass flow include Coriolis mass and thermal flowmeters.
Inferential flowmeters do not measure volume, velocity or mass, but rather measure flow by inferring its value from other measured parameters. Examples of flowmeter technologies that measure inferentially include differential pressure, target and variable area flowmeters.
Flow computers are often used to compensate flow measurements for actual process conditions, such as pressure, temperature, viscosity, and composition.
Additional flowmeter technologies include flowmeters that measure liquid flowing in an open channel, and insertion flowmeters that measure flow at one location in a pipe and use this measurement to infer the flow in the entire pipe. Insertion flow measurement systems often use a flow computer to compensate for hydraulic effects.
