Recent advances in the development and performances of Coriolis meters have meant that the measurement of the mass flow rate of gases, such as natural gas for custody transfer applications, is now a reality.
This has been reflected by the large acceptance of this technology within the natural gas industry. As an example, Micormotion has supplied 5,000 Coriolis meters for natural gas applications in the last 3 years. This industrial acceptance motivated ISO to develop a standard through the ISO Technical Committee—ISO Standard TC30/SC12. In addition to this ISO standard, there is also an engineering technical report prepared by AGA entitled Coriolis Flow Measurement for Natural Gas Applications.
For additional information on Coriolis meters and their use in liquid service, see Inference liquid meters.
Although there is no ISO standard for natural gas measurement using Coriolis measurement, some countries have issued type-approval certificates for natural gas measurement using Coriolis meters. These countries include: The Netherlands (Netherlands Inst. for Metrology and Technology), Germany (Physickalisch-Technische Burdessarstalt), Canada (Measurement Canada), and Russia (Gosstandard).
Coriolis meter overview
A Coriolis meter comprises two main parts:
§ A sensor (primary element)
§ A transmitter (secondary element)
See Fig. 1.
Fig. 1—Coriolis flowmeter (Courtesy of Daniel Industries).
With this design, the gas flows through a U-shaped tube. The tube is made to vibrate in a perpendicular direction to the flow. Gas flow through the tube generates a Coriolis force, which interacts with the vibration, causing the tube to twist. The greater the angle is twisted, the more the flow increases. The sensing coils, located on the inlet and outlet, oscillate in proportion to the sinusoidal vibration. During the flow, the vibrating tubes and gas mass flow couple together because of the Coriolis force, causing a phase shift between the vibrating sensing coils. The phase shift, which is measured by the Coriolis meter transmitter, is directly proportional to the mass flow rate. The vibration frequency is proportional to the flowing density of the flow. However, the density measurement from the Coriolis meter is not normally used as part of the gas measurement station. Like other meters, the Coriolis is usually mounted in a meter tube. Because the device is insensitive to flow disturbances, there is no requirement for any form of flow conditioning, straight lengths, or meter tube.
Theory of operation
Coriolis meters operate on the principle that, if a particle inside a rotating body moves in a direction toward or away from the center of rotation, the particle generates inertial forces that act on the body. Coriolis meters create a rotating motion by vibrating a tube or tubes carrying the flow, and the inertial force (Coriolis force) that results is proportional to the mass flow rate. By measuring the amount of inertial force or deflection, it is possible to infer the mass flow rate. It is this phenomenon that is harnessed within the Coriolis flowmeter.
It is also important to consider any additional uncertainty associated with the through-life stability of the Coriolis meter. There are two main influencing factors: the change in flow-tube structural characteristics caused by erosion of the tube wall by abrasive particles and the coating of the flow tube by debris. Abrasion of the flow tubes by abrasive particles can directly affect the flow calibration of the meter. Coating of the flow tubes by debris is only a concern at low fluid flow velocities when the meter is not self-cleaning. This influence does not affect the meter’s calibration and only affects the meter’s zero. It can be corrected by regular zero checks for drift and zeroing, if required. Both of these influences can be identified as occurring under flowing conditions by monitoring the drift in flowing density over time.
Advantages and disadvantages
The advantages and disadvantages for Coriolis meters are shown in Table 1.
Gas Coriolis meters, like all Coriolis meters, are mass devices. The sensitivity of the meter to measure small amounts of mass flow determines the low end of the metering range. The upper end of the measurement range is most often determined by the largest acceptable pressure loss. The pressure loss across the meter increases with flow rate and the corresponding velocity through the meter. Velocities through the meter can be a substantial fraction of the speed of sound but clearly should not exceed about 0.5 Mach.
1. ISO Standard TC30/SC12, Measurement of Fluid Flow in Closed Conduits—Mass Methods. 2005. Geneva, Switzerland: ISO Technical Committee.
2. Coriolis Flow Measurement for Natural Gas Applications, technical report. 2001. Washington, DC: AGA.