Sierra Instruments, Inc.

Getting the Most Out of your Steam Flow Measurement with Vortex Mass Flow Meters

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Courtesy of Sierra Instruments, Inc.

Three tips for maximizing your vortex shedding meter’s efficiency.
As far as steam flow measurement goes, vortex mass flow meters have become the flow technology of choice for most facilities and plants looking to incur significant savings on energy, maintenance, and processing costs. Vortex flow meters are perfect for measuring saturated and supersaturated steam in facilities looking to improve steam production efficiency and allocation. However, when it comes to vortex mass flow meters for steam flow measurement, there are three things to keep in mind to achieve optimal meter performance.

1. Upstream/Downstream Lengths- Make sure you have the correct upstream and downstream diameter.
When selecting a site to install a vortex flow meter, locate a space that has ample upstream and downstream (uninterrupted) runs so that you ensure a fully developed flow profile inside the pipe. Unlike thermal flow meters, vortex shedding meters will not work with flow conditioning plates. Vortex meters must have a straight run of pipe to function properly. Turbulent conditions caused by interruptions in the run (90-degree bends, T sections, valves, etc.…) add variables to the application that can impact the effectiveness of the meter.Countless times, when end users believe their meter is not working, it is probably because the meter was not installed properly.

Additional Tip: Typically, you will need a straight run of at least 10 diameters upstream and 5 diameters downstream.

2. Inline Over Insertion.
We know an insertion meter is an attractive option. The ability to install a vortex meter (hot-tap) without shutting down the process has its place. However, think about installing an inline meter when the site is down or even designing a system from the start with inline meters in mind.

Why?
Inline meters use all of the application flow in measuring the vortex phenomenon whereas an insertion meter takes a sample of the application flow and extrapolates against a (presumed) flow profile. This makes Inline meters slightly more accurate as they can capture small variables in the application flow and also use the entire flow profile instead of extrapolating.

3. Avoid Vibration/Noise Signals.
Locations with lots of vibrations and noise signals can affect flow accuracy and therefore impact your bottom line. Look for a meter installation site that is supported or braced to avoid excess pipe vibration.

Vortex shedding meters rely on technologies that can be impacted by vibration and constant htz electronic noise. Industrial flow meters have systems in place to combat these disturbances, but if they can be avoided you will ensure the meter is working with the strongest, cleanest flow signal possible.

The same principles apply to electrical noise produced by machinery that may be connected to the line (such as a boiler or heater). The further away you can get from other equipment that may be generating electrical noise, the stronger and cleaner your flow signal will be to give you better accuracy.

Sierra’s Solution for Steam Flow Measurement- InnovaMass 240i/241i -Provides Proven Accurate Steam Flow Measurement

  • Multivariable: mass flow rate, volumetric flow rate, density, pressure, temperature
  • Accuracy of up to 0.7 percent of reading; 30:1 turndown
  • Dynamic density calculation improves steam metering accuracy
  • Hot-tap probe retractor for easy steam installation
  • Onboard software Apps like meter set up, in-situ calibration/validation, tuning

Getting the Most Out of your Steam Flow Measurement with Vortex Mass Flow Meters

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