Flow meters come in all types of shapes and sizes, and, if you’re not exactly sure what you need, finding the right flow product for your application can feel overwhelming. One type of flow meter that can be used for various liquid or gas flow measuring and monitoring applications across multiple industries is the turbine-based flow meter.

You may have already come across turbine flow meters in your research, but what exactly are turbine flow meters used for and how do they work? Let’s explore some of the commonly asked questions around turbine flow meters:

What is a turbine flow meter’s principle of operation?

Turbine flow meters utilize the Pelton turbine wheel concept, which uses a miniature turbine wheel supported on a very small sapphire shaft held in position by two sapphire bearings. Because the wheel and shaft are extremely lightweight, the turbine wheel virtually floats in the liquid passing through, relieving the force on the shaft and bearings and eliminating wear.

How do turbine flow meters work?

Simple to install, operate and manage, turbine flow meters leverage mechanical energy from the flow sample to rotate the wheel in the flow stream. As liquid/gas samples pass through the flow meter, it is directed to the small teeth of the turbine wheel via a precision-machined nozzle (sized according to the flow range of the unit). The rotational speed of the turbine wheel increases proportionally to the volumetric flow rate.

What are some applications for turbine flow meters?

Turbine flow meters are used to measure clean, dry gases and liquids such as hydrocarbons, chemicals, gases and vapors, fuels and other types of liquids with lower viscosity, and for applications requiring highly accurate and precise measurements.

Typically, their applications are found across various industries such as petroleum, automotive, laboratory and water treatment. In some cases, applications are also found in the beverage and chemical industry as well.

A few examples of applications include:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of turbine flow meters?

While a great option to consider, turbine flow meters are not ideal for every flow measurement and control application. It’s important to consider the viscosity of your liquid flow sample that will be entering the flow stream, the temperature at which the flow meter will be operating in and the corrosiveness of your sample.

Turbine flow meters come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.  Some of the advantages of turbine flow meters include:

  • Suitable for gases AND liquids
  • Highly accurate and precise
  • Economical to purchase
  • Easy to set up and operate
  • Useable for a wide range of applications

Some disadvantages include:

  • Requirement of clean, dry liquid/gas samples
  • Errors caused by high viscosity in samples
  • Frequent calibration checks needed

Turbine flow meters are great options for those looking for an easy-to-use, low-cost, accurate and highly accurate flow meter. Before investing in a product, it’s important to keep in mind the necessary application needed, the sample you will be measuring (i.e. viscosity) and the environment it will be operating in (i.e. extremely high or low temperatures).

If you have further questions, contact the team at McMillan Flow Products who would be more than happy to answer your questions!