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Stop Getting Steamed (part 1): Vortex Flow Meters Make Cents


May 08, 2012

If you’re a provider of superheated steam – commonly used to heat water and buildings in large cities in the northeastern United States – then you may be watching your revenue go up in smoke.

As you know, steam is not free. Normally, it’s produced at a central facility and piped to customers. Like all other forms of heat, steam must be measured and billed according to usage. Unfortunately, most steam systems have been in operation for many years (sometimes for nearly a century) and typically rely on a legacy device calle­d a shunt meter to measure steam consumption.

Shunt meters have three major drawbacks:


  1. First, they are mechanical, so the device wears out.

  2. Second, they are a volumetric device, so additional temperature, pressure and flow computers are required to determine steam mass flow. The total system accuracy and repeatability is affected by each individual component.

  3. Third, process variables may be measured at different points.


All of these factors together lead to poor accuracy, typically around five percent. That is lost money to steam producers due to billing inaccuracies.

When customers come to us with steam consumption applications, we recommend our Innova-Mass multi-variable mass vortex flow meter, which will quickly solve the problems associated with shunt meters and help you capture revenue that’s been disappearing into thin air.

When I revisit this topic next week, I’ll share a case study that demonstrates how one maker of superheated steam discovered that the benefits and savings associated with our mass vortex flowmeters aren’t just a lot of hot air.

John, Chief Engineer
Written By:
John, Chief Engineer
Sierra Instruments

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