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Steam Flow Measurement for District Energy / District Heating

Nov 11, 2019

Nearly every major city around the globe has a district energy system that provides thermal energy to its buildings. In these underground infrastructures, thermal energy is provided to multiple buildings from a central energy plant or plants. 24 hours a day 7 days a week steam or hot water produced at the district energy plants is transferred to city buildings, universities, office buildings, etc. for heating.

In district energy applications, multiparameter vortex mass flow meters for measuring steam flow allow you to sub-allocate steam usage and report it directly to a central plant for increased energy efficiency. Additionally, vortex meters through accurate flow monitoring improves process quality, optimizes accountability processes and reduces downtime.

Steam flow energy generated from the boiler is moved downstream in the steam pipeline then distributed to city buildings. Facility/District Energy Engineers need to measure this steam output and distribution of the steam precisely. However, one of the key challenges district energy managers have is actually making the steam flow measurement itself, because it is rare that you can turn off the steam.  That is why a multivariable mass vortex flow meter like Sierra’s InnovaMass 241i with packing gland is such a good option for this application.

Why InnovaMass vortex mass flow for steam measurement in District Energy?

The 241i with full packing gland and hot-tapping capability allows you to insert the sensor into any size pipe that you want anytime that you need. Sierra’s vortex meter is a good choice for the difficulty and harshness of steam measurement.  A Sierra vortex meter does not drift and can handle up to 500 psig and 425°F process conditions. It can also be ordered as an insertion with a packing gland so hot tap capability.  The 241i can be specified to measure up to five process variables with one process connection: volumetric flow, mass flow, density, pressure, and temperature. This multivariable capability makes it easier to maximize your steam productivity. It also gives you many options for making a measurement without having to turn off the steam.

Although differential pressure (Dp) devices have been used for steam flow measurement in district energy, Dp devices have limited measurement ranges along with being prone to plugging and needed maintenance. Most other choices are inline meters and do not have hot tap capability.

Why Vortex Mass Flow Measurement? 

Vortex mass flow meters receive a true mass (using T and P compensation) flow measurement in lbs/hr.  With that data, boiler efficiency, heating efficient, etc. can all be calculated correctly. You can really see how your facility is performing. If you are basing decisions on not true mass flow you might as well be guessing.

Benefits of Vortex Mass Flow Meters 

  • Insertion probe up to 72 inches (2M); optional hot tap

  • Ideal for saturated or superheated steam, gas, and liquid

  • Low-cost alternative to Coriolis meters for large pipes and ducts

  • Easy single-point installation; hot tap and hot tap retractor available

  • Volumetric flow rate or mass flow

  • Multivariable for five measurements in one device with one process connection:

    • Mass flow rate

    • Volumetric flow rate

    • Temperature

    • Pressure

    • Fluid density

    • Complete suite of digital communications

Rugged, long-lasting design for the toughest applications; no leaks with all welded gasket-free flow body.

Learn about Sierra’s vortex volumetric flow and multivariable mass flow meters to find out.

See How to Install, Remove, and Operate InnovaMass 241i iSeries Vortex Flowmeter Retractor.

Maryadine Washington, Mar-Com Manager
Written By:
Maryadine Washington, Mar-Com Manager
Sierra Instruments

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