There are many methods and technologies that industries use for measuring flow rates of gas and oil. Three of the most common flow meters that are used in the oil and gas industry are differential pressure flow meters, turbine flow meters, and Coriolis flow meters.
Because of its sensitivity to pressure changes differential flow meters are often ignored, and Coriolis flow meters are massive and very costly, leaving turbine flow meters the best choice.
Turbine flow meters are the most reliable because they keep their accuracy and precision in extreme conditions. This accuracy and precision are still present in a lot of different substances that are measured. Not to mention that it is the cheapest one among the three, making it the most preferred flow meters in the industry.
How do turbine flow meters work?
Turbine flow meters excel at measuring clean liquids either with the high or low-velocity flow, especially in low viscosity liquids. They are commonly used in a pump-intensive environment where a fluid is pumped in high quantities. They also maintain its tiptop conditions even when measuring highly corrosive and abrasive environments that are common in the oil and gas industry.
The fluid that enters the turbine meter will go through an inlet flow straightener, which will control its flow pattern. It will then pass through the body in which the turbine is located. This turbine will directly spin, relating to the velocity of the fluid. As the turbine spins, the current will generate a magnetic pickup that is proportional to the volumetric flow of the liquid.
A turbine flow meter has several features such as a 316 stainless housing, rotor support, stainless rotor, CD4CMU, tungsten carbide rotor shaft, and lastly, journal bearings. The materials are essential when dealing with abrasive and corrosive content to ensure the meter’s resistance and accuracy throughout the process.
Generally, turbine flow meters are your go-to devices when you want to measure the volumetric flow of a liquid. Turbine flow meters are commonly used in a plethora of liquid and gas sensing applications, making it the most common meters used in a lot of industries.
Typical applications in the industry
Turbine flow meters are commonly used to measure almost everything, from hydraulic fracturing operations to gas and liquids. They are applied to a lot of oil and gas applications such as:
Water injection – they are used to measure the flow of the water injected into the wellheads to keep track of the pressure building up. A turbine flow meter is especially useful when scrubbing out the remains of oil from wellheads.
Disposal wells – Water produced from wellheads goes into a tank to be delivered in a disposal site where it is injected for storage purposes. One of the environmental regulations includes how much water you should put underground, which makes the turbine flow meters are useful in measuring the volume of the water that is injected.
Natural gas pipelines – Turbine flow meters can also be useful in pipelines installations. These include but are not limited to metering stations, truck loading stations, and chemical injections and offloading for smaller pipelines.
Disadvantages of turbine flow meters
Turbine flow meters’ accuracy can profoundly be affected when dealing with low flow rates as it can drag down the speed of the rotor. This situation is especially hard when dealing with a smaller than 5% of the flow rate, so extra care should be taken.
Also, the flow meter should not operate at high-velocity flow rates since damage can occur in the housing. When dealing with the measurement of non-lubricating substances, extra care should be taken since it can cause further damage to the flow meter, making its measurements inaccurate and a failure.
Like any other flow meters, turbine flow meter’s parts can be subjected to wear and damage with extended usage. Sudden transitions of substances should be avoided altogether because it can mechanically stress the flow meter, damage the flow meter itself, and give off an inaccurate result.
The bearing of the flow meter is on a regular basis, so replacing bearing from time to time is inevitable. Dealing with greasy substances should be avoided to maintain the flow meter’s accuracy and precision.
These events usually happen when dealing with changing flow conditions and when filling the pipes. Using the turbine flow meter for a two-phase flow condition such as steam flow can cause further damage to the rotor, making the flow meter give off inaccurate and failing results.
Turbine flow meters are more preferable than its peers, making it a key component in all industries, like the oil and gas industry. Since it can be used for many applications, they can be subject to damage and failure like other flow meters. There are parameters to avoid these situations, and if they are met with high importance, turbine flow meters can give you the most accurate results possible.
Author’s Bio: Slyvia Hopkins is a writer and blogger. She can be found writing content about flow measurement and technology. Sylvia enjoys her free time seeing live music, biking, and fishing.