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Part 1: Emerging Trends of Thermal Flowmeters

Oct 09, 2013

In this guest post, I’ll be comparing the Coriolis and Thermal flowmeter markets, an interesting undertaking when you consider some of the facts. Both technologies were introduced about the same time, in the mid-1970s. But the worldwide Coriolis meter market has grown to exceed $1 billion, while the Thermal flowmeter market is valued at less than 15 percent of that. Why the difference?

Here are some important differences between Coriolis and Thermal flowmeters:

  • Coriolis flowmeters are widely used for liquids as well as gases, while Thermal flowmeters are used almost exclusively for gases.

  • Coriolis flowmeters are used for custody transfer applications, while Thermal flowmeters have yet to be approved for custody transfer.

  • Coriolis flowmeters are used to measure petroleum liquids, unlike Thermal meters. With oil prices at over $100 per barrel, this is a high-value measurement that requires high accuracy.

  • Coriolis flowmeters are more accurate on the whole than Thermal meters. Accuracy is especially important for custody transfer applications.

  • Coriolis flowmeters cost more than Thermal flowmeters, driving up the total revenues for this technology. Some of the new 14-inch Coriolis meters cost in the range of $75,000.

What can a thermal flowmeter supplier do to increase their visibility and performance when compared to Coriolis meters?

  • Develop more accurate meters. While some Thermal flowmeters have achieved accuracies in the range of one percent, this is not sufficient for many process applications.

  • Find a way to more effectively handle liquid flow measurement. This may be prevented by the technology, but it is worth looking at.

  • Try to find a way to accurately measure crude oil and petroleum liquids. Again, this may be prevented by the technology, but it would help Thermal flowmeters take advantage of the fast-growing energy markets.

  • Work to obtain custody transfer approvals, especially for custody transfer of natural gas. This would mean having the suppliers work together with end-users to draft a standard. Of course, in order to do this, Thermal flowmeters would have to be developed to meet current custody transfer standards.

As you can see, developing Thermal flowmeters that can handle all of these requirements is no easy task. But as I’ll share in my next post, Sierra Instruments has been up to the challenge, having become a leader in accurate Thermal flowmeter technology. Read More…

Jesse Yoder, Ph.D., is president of Flow Research Inc. in Wakefield, Mass., a company he founded in 1998. He has 25 years of experience as an analyst and writer in process control. He specializes in flowmeters and other field devices, including pressure and temperature products.



Jesse Yoder
Written By:
Jesse Yoder
Sierra Instruments

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