Vortex Flowmeters

vortex or multivariable flowmeter flow meter for process measurement
Multivariable vortex flowmeter combines flow, temperature
and pressure measurement into a single compact instrument
Image courtesy Krohne
Vortex shedding flowmeters provide process operators with consistent fluid flow rate measurements across a wide range of applications. These flowmeters measure the volumetric flow rate of steam, gas, and low viscosity liquids, boasting both versatility and dependability when used in conjunction with process systems.

Vortex shedding refers to the phenomenon wherein flowing gas or liquid form vortices around a solid object placed in the flow path. The measurement technology returns an indication of the process fluid velocity, which can then be used to provide volumetric or mass flow data. Vortex technology is well suited for many applications involving cryogenic liquids, hydrocarbons, air, and industrial gases. Vortex flow measurement requires contact between portions of the measurement instrument and the process media, so these flowmeters are commonly fashioned from a range of corrosion resistant materials.

The process of measuring the flow involves both the flowmeter and the ability for other instrumentation to measure the vortices themselves in order to calculate velocity. Ultrasonic sensors have become popular tools for measuring vortices. Applications involving flow measurement of high viscosity fluids are not suited for vortex technology because extremely viscous fluids do not behave in the same manner as lower viscosity fluids when their flow path is obstructed. Splitting higher viscosity fluids into concordant vertices is extremely difficult due to the internal friction present in highly viscous liquids.

Additionally, in order to split these process liquids, the piping through which the process material flows must be straight, and any disturbance or vibration in the pipe may impact the measurement. A vortex flowmeter will be in a fixed installation. This stationary element, operating without electrodes, can be advantageous for flow measurement in chemical applications utilizing low viscosity fluids.

The vortex shedding flowmeter is widely used for the measurement of steam flow. The high pressure and elevated temperature of steam, along with the variation that exists in most steam systems, have little negative impact on the operation of a vortex flowmeter. Vortex shedding flowmeters are often volumetrically based in terms of measurement, but their output can be combined with other fluid information to calculate mass flow. A product variant commonly available will combine the vortex flow measurement with temperature and pressure compensation, delivering three process measurements from a single installed device.

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