How easy is it to measure flow?

Can solids flow?
It is usually said that flow can occur only when the substance is having fluidity. The solids like powder, coal stacks etc. are not having fluidity, obviously flow cannot occur for such substances. Still there are some cases where flow of solid substance also is required to be measured, e.g. coal when fed to the boiler, bagasse also is used to feed the boiler as fuel. There are certain methods to measure such stuff while it passes over conveyor belts, but measurement of flow of such items is not the scope of this article. But we will be covering problems while handling measurement of slurries and pastes.

Fluids are always either in liquid form or in gaseous form. In these forms they have fluidity. When the fluid is passing from one place to another place, it is called as flow of that fluid. Flow can occur only when a pressure differential occurs across two given points. If there is no differential pressure, there cannot be any flow and fluids are stagnant in such case.

Measuring the Flow:
When the fluid is abundant, no one is interested in measuring it but whenever it is rare, costly or is required for process or collecting some data of its usage, the flow rate needs to be measured and thereby the total quantity. There are various ways and means to measure the flow rate for various types of fluids.
There are two types of fluids,

  • Liquids
  • Gaseous fluids

Is fluid measurement essential?
Whenever expensive fluids are used in process, e.g. gases like LPG, CNG, Argon or liquids like furnace oil or diesel etc., it is extremely important to measure and control them in utilization. Measurement helps not only in maintaining the preciseness of process but also in finding the right costing of the final product.

Process Industries need to add many times hazardous liquids like acids and alkalis or other organic liquids to main vessel or reactor in certain proportion, here it is extremely essential to measure them accurately before adding for control purpose.

In industry, the fluid is either entering to or leaving a process equipment. Its amount per unit time, which means the flow rate, must be known as every equipment is designed to handle a specific amount of fluid.

Effluent generated in all the process industries is to be treated before disposing to nature as toxic water cannot be disposed to natural sources. This is mandatory. In this case unless the effluent water is measured with fairly good accuracy it cannot be treated properly. Same is the case with sewage.

These days, even irrigation water is becoming a scarce commodity. The government bodies are well aware of this fact and have stared measuring the domestic as well as industrial water consumption. This helps for analysis of consumption. Government can then balance the water supply for drinking, agriculture and industry.

Here we are considering the fluids passing through a closed conduit only. Usually one of the two types of flow parameters are measured. Volumetric Flow or Mass Flow.

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