What's the best technology to measure high-pressure steam flow? I want a flow meter with high accuracy, reliability, long lifespan, and low cost if possible. Also, is there a portable instrument for measuring steam?
Expert’s answer: Reliable steam measurement
Reliable steam measurement, eh?
You can certainly find portables. But let’s do your first question first. Usually, you’ll find two types of flow meters for steam, multivariable transmitters and vortex flow meters.
The multivariable transmitter measures differential pressure, static pressure, and temperature. Then it calculates flow rate, measuring with a basic element like an orifice plate.
Here, the benefit of the multivariable is its popularity; you’re using industry-standard tech with a familiar process.
However, the device has limitations. For instance, the high temperature means that the setup has to use mostly mechanical parts. Also, you have to set the device far from the sensor to make it last longer.
Furthermore, the mechanical parts can make your measurements less accurate. That means regular checks on everything to make sure it all works the way it should.
Vortex flow meter
The second option for steam flow measurement is a vortex flow meter. Because the vortex directly measures the mass flow, it has a simple setup. It does need a minimum velocity to measure accurately. But, in the end, your installation will be easier and cheaper than an MV.
However, the vortex’s low profile means it won’t capture the full flow range. Fortunately, it’s not a big issue for steam, so you don’t have to worry about that. Also, you can find vortex meters with high-level steam diagnostics for better plant efficiency.
As far as portables go, you’ll find just a few. But you can get an ultrasonic flow meter with the steam measurement function. Of course, a portable device won’t give the same accuracy as an inline meter. But it could help with flow verification or flow meter verification.
Want to learn more about reliable steam measurement?
These vendors have multivariable transmitters:
And these offer vortex flow meters:
And these have portable ultrasonic flow meters:
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