How to Choose a Flowmeter for Chemical Processing

how to choose a flowmeter for chemical processing

Installing the correct flowmeter is a vital part of chemical processing and choosing the wrong product could lead to losses within your business.

When it comes to chemical processing, there is little room for mistakes when adhering to regulations and providing accurate data. So, this means that purchasing a meter should not be something you take lightly.

As well as choosing a flowmeter to suit the needs of your business, you will want to make sure that you look into the costs and if the product is sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible.

Does Your Business Need a Flowmeter?

The first and most important question that you need to ask is “does the company need a flowmeter?” If you simply want to know how much liquid is passing through a pipeline and at what rate, a very basic flow meter will do the job and is relatively easy to install.

Such simple flowmeters can provide approximately 5% accuracy, which is great if you do not require anything more than that. If you are looking for something more sophisticated, however, and know that a high-performing flowmeter is essential to your business, it is time to understand the various options that are available to you.

Below we take a look at the variety of precision flowmeters that are currently on the market to help you choose which is the best product for your operational requirements.

Types of Flowmeter

One key aspect of understanding the differences in flowmeters is that every gas or fluid will behave differently when it runs through a pipeline, due to the viscosity of the fluid. As different fluids will flow differently, you should investigate how the materials used in your chemical processes behave, so that you can buy a flow meter that can cope.

Turbine Flowmeter

choose a flowmeter for chemical processing

Turbine flowmeters contain a rotor that is freely suspended and that will rotate determined by the flow velocity. The faster the fluid moves, the more pulses are generated by the transmitter that provides the reading.

With a wide turndown and repeatable measurements, the turbine is a very reliable flowmeter and has stood the test of time in terms of accurate measuring.  This type of meter is suitable for ‘clean’ materials only and will not work with highly viscous materials. The other factor to consider with the turbine flowmeter is that it will need services on a regular basis and recalibration is a definite requirement.

Variable Area Flow Meter

lowmeter for chemical industry

Also known as rotameters, variable meters are inexpensive and will appeal to those who are on a tight budget but want a high-performance meter. This type of meter uses inferential measurement by having a metering tube and a float that rides within the tube.

Readings can be taken by looking at the float position that is based on the linear function of the flow rate. If you do require a high level of accuracy in your chemical processing, this is probably not the meter for you, as it is not very precise. You will also need to take the time to fully calibrate the meter for viscous materials and compressed gases.

Positive Displacement Flowmeters

how to choose a flowmeter for chemical processing guide

Positive displacement flowmeters also referred to as PD flow meters or volumetric flowmeters are unique in that they are the only meters that can measure the actual volume of a liquid. Unlike other flow meters that infer what the flow is using various measurements and equating it to the flow rate, the positive displacement meter measures the pressure differential and the square root of the fluid on the pipe. This particular flow meter is good for businesses using a lot of fluids that have a high viscosity, as it remains relatively unaffected.

Many people who prefer a meter that works on exact science decide on the positive displacement flow meter and we believe that they are certainly very versatile. The downside of this type of meter is that they can be difficult to install and the cost of installing one must be considered when deciding on your budget. Prices for PD flow meters will vary depending on the length of pipe, flow specification and the number of output options.

Things to Think About When Choosing Your Flowmeter

As you can see, there is no one perfect flowmeter and while one will be perfect for a certain business, it can be a disaster for another. When choosing a flow meter, you will need to consider the following:

  • Is the product a liquid or gas?
  • What is the minimum and maximum flow rate?
  • Viscosity
  • Temperature
  • Accuracy requirements
  • Allowable pressure drop
  • Location of flow meter (Hazardous, high-temperatures etc)
  • Compatibility of fluids
  • Maximum pressure at the location
  • The length of time you will be using the meter


Buying From A Reputable Company

You may be tempted to cut costs where possible when it comes to buying a flowmeter, but be careful not to buy a product that is sub-standard. You should always ask the company that you would like to purchase from what their installation policies are and what services they can offer you once you have started to use their product. Doing your homework beforehand can save a lot of stress and money in the long-run and a reputable company can help you avoid making any costly mistakes.


Finalizing Your Choice

After reading this handy guide you may now have an idea as to what flowmeter you believe is right for your business, but there may be some more necessary research that needs to be done. It is imperative that you review each product in terms of different techniques that they employ and various meter options.

You will also need to consider the costs of maintaining and calibrating your flowmeter when deciding your final decision. You can employ a professional calibration service to ensure that your meter is in prime condition and if you are truly flummoxed about which meter to choose, you can always seek out expert advice.

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