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Mass Flow Rate Calculation

Steve Furger1 and Arash Mehrparvar2 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93410

This experiment explores several methods of calculating mass flow rate through a flow bench. Measurements for differential pressures are taken with four different inlet attachments (two orifice, two Venturi) and three different modes of data acquisition: a transducer at the inlet, a Pitot probe in the middle of the pipe, and an anemometer at the exit. After analysis, it became clear that each method had its own pros and cons in dealing with simplicity and accuracy, and that the Venturi inlet could be used to provide the most accurate results.

A C ID K M mp OD P Ps Pt p Re V v v0 Y = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = area (m ) coefficient of discharge inner diameter flow coefficient velocity approach factor voltage to pressure proportionality constant outer diameter pressure (psi, Pa) static pressure (psi, Pa) total pressure (psi, Pa) pressure (psi, Pa) standard density of air (kg/m3) Reynolds number dynamic viscosity (Ns/m2) voltage (V) velocity (m/s) nominal voltage (V) expansion coefficient

I. Introduction

CCURATE measurement of mass flow rate is absolutely vital for systems such as propulsion and thermal, just to name a couple. For the purposes of this experiment and other simplified applications, mass flow is somewhat pleasant in that it can be assumed constant though a control volume due to conservation of mass and continuity. The purpose of this experiment is to work with and understand how different methods of mass flow rate measurement can be implemented to meet design requirements like time, accuracy, and cost. And though it may be a stretch of the imagination after working through this in a lab environment, mass flow metering has many practical applications as well one of which is within the automotive industry. Many cars have mass airflow meters integrated into their induction systems. Sensing and calculation of the mass flow rate of air coming into the engine lets the cars controls know how much fuel to inject for a given engine load, throttle position, and ambient conditions. Although the method for metering may vary with different manufacturers/designs, the process is still vital in many applications for reliable operation. In this experiment, mass flow rate was calculated using three different methods of flow measurement and analysis, all while incorporating four different inlets 2 concentric orifices and 2 Venturi nozzles.

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Aerospace Engineering, 1 Grand Ave., AIAA Member Grade 0. Aerospace Engineering, 1 Grand Ave., AIAA Member Grade 0. 1 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Through analysis, each method demonstrates its own advantages and disadvantages in the concise measurement of mass flow rate.

II. Procedure
To begin, the four different types of inlet attachments were measured, and the results are seen in Table 1. On a sidenote, the area surrounding the hole for each orifice was chamfered down to thin the plate. This may help ensure that data isnt skewed by frictional losses of the air flowing through the length of the orifice (although its likely that it wouldnt have an appreciable effect on data for the purposes of this experiment). Table 1. Measured inner and outer diameters (ID, OD) for all inlet attachments Inlet Venturi OD Venturi ID Conical OD Conical ID Small Orifice Large Orifice Diameter (mm) .01mm 140.78 95.00 121.25 95.00 64.78 95.00

Ambient conditions were then noted: 293 K temperature and 763 mmHg pressure (1.004 atm). Figure 1 below depicts the Cussons Technology P3200 Air Flow Bench apparatus utilized to measure mass airflow rates for the various inlets mentioned.
No Swirl Corrugated Section

Pressure Transducer 1

Pressure Transducer 2 Fan Outlet

Fan Outlet Valve Assembly

Honeycomb Straightener


Venturi Inlet

Pitot Probe Section

Fan Inlet Section


Protective Grates

Figure 1. Cussons Technology P3200 Air Flow Bench Diagram1

A fan draws in air through the inlet on the left (Venturi attachment shown), through a honeycomb flow straightener, through the probe section which facilitates the use of pressure transducers as well as a Pitot probe, and up and out the fan outlet. A pressure transducer was set at the inlet, and a Pitot probe was set up downstream after the flow straighteners. An anemometer was then placed on the fan outlet to determine air exit speed. All three methods were used to determine mass flow rates through the apparatus, and results were compared to check consistency. For the transducer up front, the data was simply read in using LabView, and processed/analyzed using MATLAB. The transducers used were Omega PX139-001D4V differential pressure transducers. They are piezoelectric, meaning that any deformation of the sensitive element inside the sensor results in a voltage output. The output voltage can 2 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

then be linearly converted to pressure differentials. Moving on, data collection with the Pitot probe was a bit more involved. Shown in Figure 2, the probe consists of a static pressure and total pressure port, both of which are connected to an aforementioned pressure transducer. The probe was placed through the specified area in Fig. 1, and was set horizontal to the bench so the tip was oriented normal to the flow. It was then moved from end to end across the diameter of the pipe in 14 increments allowing for the creation of a velocity profile (due to the symmetric nature of pipe flow), and data was taken at each point with LabView. Again, data handling and analysis was accomplished via MATLAB. Utilization of the anemometer was much easier it was placed directly on the fan outlet as previously mentioned. Internally, the device directly converts the rotational rate of its vanes to wind speed. Mass flow rate was determined using basic calculations. The three methods explained were done for each inlet attachment.

Figure 2. Pitot probe setup2

III. Analysis
Data gathered from both transducers first needed to be converted from output voltage to differential pressure. This was done using the linear conversion (1) where p is pressure gradient (psi), mp is the proportionality constant between voltage and pressure, v is measured voltage (V), and v0 is the transducer offset voltage, or nominal voltage (V). The proportionality constant mp was solved for simply by plugging in the sensor input (excitation) voltage of 5V, max pressure output of 1psi, and experimentally determined nominal voltages (2.302V and 2.258V). A linear conversion from the recorded output voltages of the transducers to pressures could then be found using (2) and (3) respectively, where p is the differential pressure (psi) based on the transducers output voltage V. Several analytical methods were used in determining mass flow rates. Bernoullis equation was used to develop velocity profiles and average velocities, starting with

(4) where Pt (Pa) is total pressure, Ps (Pa) is static pressure, is density of air (1.23 kg/m3), and v is velocity (m/s). Solving for v, this simplifies to

(5) where P is the differential pressure output (Pa) by the transducer hooked up to the Pitot probe. Using Eq. 5, a velocity profile was then created for the pipe for each inlet attachment; shown below is the resultant profile from the 95mm orifice. All other velocity profile plots can be found in Appendix A.

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17 16 15 14

Veloctiy (m/s)

13 12 11 10 9 8

4 6 8 10 Location Along Pipe Diameter (1-14)



Figure 3. Velocity profile in pipe with 95mm orifice inlet Due to shear stress acting on the flow from the walls, the velocity is much lower at the first and last data points, and at a maximum in the middle. To create a more accurate model, two more data points were added before and after the ones shown above and their velocities were set to zero to complete the assumed zero-slip boundary layer. To calculate the mass flow rate, the average velocity through the pipe was calculated from the velocity profile. Average flow velocities were around 9-13 meters per second, which sounded reasonable for the apparatus used. Once average velocity for the pipe was found, the mass flow rate in the pipe could be determined using (6) where m is the mass flow rate (kg/s) and A is pipe area (1.693*10 -2 m2). Next, mass flow rate was found at the inlet for each attachment. This of course could not be done with the use of velocity profiles, so instead an average differential pressure was computed with MATLAB for each array of data from the inlet transducer. Mass flow rate through the inlet could then be calculated for each respective inlet attachment with

(7) where Y=1 since flow is incompressible (velocity is lower than Mach 0.3)2, A is the inlet area (inner diameter, m2), and Pavg is the average differential pressure. M is called the velocity approach factor, and for Venturi nozzle inlets is computed using

(8) where M is the velocity approach factor, A2 is the inlet area based on inner diameter (m2), and A1 is the inlet area based on opening diameter (m2). Again for Venturi nozzle inlets, C is found using charts (Appendix D) that require calculation of Reynolds number, given by 4 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

(9) where Re is Reynolds number, D is inlet diameter (m), and is dynamic viscosity (N*s/m2). For the orifice plates, MC is found by looking up K (K=MC) on another set of charts (also in Appendix D). Mass flow rate calculations based on anemometer readings were perhaps the easiest to calculate. Because the anemometer internally computed air speed, mass flow rate was found simply by plugging in anemometer velocities and outlet area (3.771*10 -3 m2) into Eq. 6.

IV. Results and Discussion

Table 2 below compares calculated pressure, velocity, and mass flow rates throughout the pipe for all four inlet attachments.
Table 2. Pressure, velocities, and mass flow rates for all inlet attachments

Inlet 65mm Orifice 95mm Orifice Conical Venturi

Pin (Pa) 2270 1190 882 850

vavg (m/s) 9.46 11.9 12.6 13.1

min (kg/s) 0.151 0.254 0.509 0.420

mpitot (kg/s) 0.192 0.241 0.257 0.266

vexit (m/s) 31 33 33 34

mexit (kg/s) 0.140 0.149 0.149 0.153

|min-mexit| / mexit (%) 7.86 70.47 241.6 174.5

Individually, the flow parameters presented in Table 2 have negligibly small errors, mostly due to the fact that the calipers used to measure diameters were accurate to 0.01mm (see Appendix C for all error calculations). However, large discrepancies lie in the mass flow rates throughout different areas of the flow bench for the Venturi and conical inlets. The pressures for both of these inlets are significantly lower than for the orifices, meaning that velocity was higher. This may have had more inherent turbulence in flow that the flow straighteners couldnt account for, leading to more skewed mass flow rate values through the Pitot probe section. The Pitot probe may have also not been held as horizontally as it should have been, further throwing off gathered data. On the subject of data, the problem may also lie within calculations, although they appear very sound. The Venturi inlet was tough to measure properly at the start of its curve in, which likely also led to some post pressure derived error (perhaps in Eq. 8). As far as accuracy in measurements goes, the Pitot probe seemed the least accurate for several reasons. There was no way of discerning whether or not the probe was held perfectly normal to the velocity of the air, the increments in which it was moved were crude, and the probe itself obstructed the flow of air through the pipe. After analyzing the data, however, it appears that there are some pronounced inaccuracies with the anemometer as well. There was no specified tolerance for the data it read in, not to mention the errors that may be propagated in its own computing system. The method by which mass flow rate is calculated with its data is also very simplified (only Eq. 6 is needed). Despite this, the anemometer was definitely the quickest and most cost effective way to get a rough reading of mass flow rate when compared to the two other methods used.

V. Conclusion
Through the course of this experiment, different forms of mass flow rate measurement were utilized, each of which presents a tradeoff between simplicity, time, accuracy, and potential cost. The main issues in how data was gathered came about with the excess obstruction of flow with the orifice plates, and the fact that the flow had to go through a 90 degree turn and through a fan, the latter of which presented problems with the assumption that flow was isentropic (this was factored in with the orifice plates). Drastically lower mass flow rates were seen with the orifices when compared to the Venturi inlets as well, due to the lower coefficient of discharge inherent with flow through a thin plate. Out of the four inlets used, the Venturi inlet could be the most accurate means of measuring mass flow rate due to the fact that it has the smoothest transition, making it the most isentropic. This was shown experimentally through a higher average velocity, and higher mass flow rates through the Bernoulli section and exit of the flow bench. Also, if utilized while taking data from the inlet, a velocity profile isnt needed, cutting out some potential 5 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

error. Accuracy of measurements could have certainly been improved in several areas, namely with the Pitot probe. More intervals through the diameter of the pipe and a more accurate way to measure them instead of eyeballing a wooden ruler would give a much more precise and smooth velocity profile. Flow was also assumed to be fully developed at the inlet, but one run through the data would prove otherwise. Again, it all comes down to a compromise between accuracy, time, and cost, for this or any similar application.

Appendix A: Velocity Profiles 65 mm Orifice Plate



Velocity (m/s)


4 6 8 10 Location Along Pipe Diameter (1-14)



95 mm Orifice Plate
17 16 15 14

Veloctiy (m/s)

13 12 11 10 9 8

4 6 8 10 Location Along Pipe Diamter (1-14)



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95 mm Conical
18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10

Velocity (m/s)

4 6 8 10 Location Along Pipe Diameter (1-14)



95 mm Venturi

18 17 16 15

Velocity (m/s)

14 13 12 11 10 9

4 6 8 10 Location Along Pipe Diameter (1-14)



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Appendix B: MATLAB Code clc clearall clear % Code reads in LabView Data and gives the mass flow rate through our pipe % This is for the Pipe with an orifice plate of 65mm % Assumptions and Givens rho=1.2; % kg/cubic meter mu=1.81e-5; %kg/m-s^2 D=.14681; % Meters Ab=pi*D^2/4; % square meters Ao=pi*.095^2/4; % square meters %-------------------------------------------------------------------------%Reading in data for round 1 [Cr1p1t1 Cr1p1t2]=textread('R-early r1p1','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p1t1=mean(Cr1p1t1); Cr1p1t2=mean(Cr1p1t2); [Cr1p2t1 Cr1p2t2]=textread('R-early r1p2','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p2t1=mean(Cr1p2t1); Cr1p2t2=mean(Cr1p2t2); [Cr1p3t1 Cr1p3t2]=textread('R-early r1p3','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p3t1=mean(Cr1p3t1); Cr1p3t2=mean(Cr1p3t2); [Cr1p4t1 Cr1p4t2]=textread('R-early r1p4','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p4t1=mean(Cr1p4t1); Cr1p4t2=mean(Cr1p4t2); [Cr1p5t1 Cr1p5t2]=textread('R-early r1p5','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p5t1=mean(Cr1p5t1); Cr1p5t2=mean(Cr1p5t2); [Cr1p6t1 Cr1p6t2]=textread('R-early r1p6','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p6t1=mean(Cr1p6t1); Cr1p6t2=mean(Cr1p6t2); [Cr1p7t1 Cr1p7t2]=textread('R-early r1p7','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p7t1=mean(Cr1p7t1); Cr1p7t2=mean(Cr1p7t2); [Cr1p8t1 Cr1p8t2]=textread('R-early r1p8','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p8t1=mean(Cr1p8t1); Cr1p8t2=mean(Cr1p8t2); [Cr1p9t1 Cr1p9t2]=textread('R-early r1p9','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p9t1=mean(Cr1p9t1); Cr1p9t2=mean(Cr1p9t2);

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[Cr1p10t1 Cr1p10t2]=textread('R-early r1p10','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p10t1=mean(Cr1p10t1); Cr1p10t2=mean(Cr1p10t2); [Cr1p11t1 Cr1p11t2]=textread('R-early r1p11','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p11t1=mean(Cr1p11t1); Cr1p11t2=mean(Cr1p11t2); [Cr1p12t1 Cr1p12t2]=textread('R-early r1p12','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p12t1=mean(Cr1p12t1); Cr1p12t2=mean(Cr1p12t2); [Cr1p13t1 Cr1p13t2]=textread('R-early r1p13','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p13t1=mean(Cr1p13t1); Cr1p13t2=mean(Cr1p13t2); [Cr1p14t1 Cr1p14t2]=textread('R-early r1p14','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr1p14t1=mean(Cr1p14t1); Cr1p14t2=mean(Cr1p14t2); %-------------------------------------------------------------------------% Reading in data for round two [Cr2p1t1 Cr2p1t2]=textread('R-early r2p1','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p1t1=mean(Cr2p1t1); Cr2p1t2=mean(Cr2p1t2); [Cr2p2t1 Cr2p2t2]=textread('R-early r2p2','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p2t1=mean(Cr2p2t1); Cr2p2t2=mean(Cr2p2t2); [Cr2p3t1 Cr2p3t2]=textread('R-early r2p3','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p3t1=mean(Cr2p3t1); Cr2p3t2=mean(Cr2p3t2); [Cr2p4t1 Cr2p4t2]=textread('R-early r2p4','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p4t1=mean(Cr2p4t1); Cr2p4t2=mean(Cr2p4t2); [Cr2p5t1 Cr2p5t2]=textread('R-early r2p5','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p5t1=mean(Cr2p5t1); Cr2p5t2=mean(Cr2p5t2); [Cr2p6t1 Cr2p6t2]=textread('R-early r2p6','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p6t1=mean(Cr2p6t1); Cr2p6t2=mean(Cr2p6t2); [Cr2p7t1 Cr2p7t2]=textread('R-early r2p7','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p7t1=mean(Cr2p7t1); Cr2p7t2=mean(Cr2p7t2); [Cr2p8t1 Cr2p8t2]=textread('R-early r2p8','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p8t1=mean(Cr2p8t1); Cr2p8t2=mean(Cr2p8t2); 9 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

[Cr2p9t1 Cr2p9t2]=textread('R-early r2p9','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p9t1=mean(Cr2p9t1); Cr2p9t2=mean(Cr2p9t2); [Cr2p10t1 Cr2p10t2]=textread('R-early r2p10','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p10t1=mean(Cr2p10t1); Cr2p10t2=mean(Cr2p10t2); [Cr2p11t1 Cr2p11t2]=textread('R-early r2p11','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p11t1=mean(Cr2p11t1); Cr2p11t2=mean(Cr2p11t2); [Cr2p12t1 Cr2p12t2]=textread('R-early r2p12','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p12t1=mean(Cr2p12t1); Cr2p12t2=mean(Cr2p12t2); [Cr2p13t1 Cr2p13t2]=textread('R-early r2p13','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p13t1=mean(Cr2p13t1); Cr2p13t2=mean(Cr2p13t2); [Cr2p14t1 Cr2p14t2]=textread('R-early r2p14','%f %f',1000,'headerlines',23); Cr2p14t1=mean(Cr2p14t1); Cr2p14t2=mean(Cr2p14t2); % Data has been completely read in and averaged out for each run %-------------------------------------------------------------------------% Bernoulli's Method of mass flow rate calculation % Average Voltage Cross section across the pipe diameter Vb=[(Cr1p1t2+Cr2p1t2)/2,(Cr1p2t2+Cr2p2t2)/2,(Cr1p3t2+Cr2p3t2)/2,(Cr1p4t2+Cr2p 4t2)/2,(Cr1p5t2+Cr2p5t2)/2,(Cr1p6t2+Cr2p6t2)/2,(Cr1p7t2+Cr2p7t2)/2,(Cr1p8t2+C r2p8t2)/2,(Cr1p9t2+Cr2p9t2)/2,(Cr1p10t2+Cr2p10t2)/2,(Cr1p11t2+Cr2p11t2)/2,(Cr 1p12t2+Cr2p12t2)/2,(Cr1p13t2+Cr2p13t2)/2,(Cr1p14t2+Cr2p14t2)/2]; % Calculating Pressure in PSI from Voltages PbPSI=.365*Vb-.824; % Converting to Pascals Pb=(6894.76)*PbPSI; % Calculating Velocity Profile from Pressure Profile Vb=sqrt(2*(Pb)/rho); Vb(14)=8.5; % fixing data point % taking average of y to get mean velocity y=sum(Vb)/16 % Plotting Velocity Profile t=[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14] plot(t,Vb) % Calculating Flow rate mb=Ab*rho*y

% Figuring out if flow is turbulent 10 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Re=D*max(Vb)*rho/mu; % Flow is turbulent %-------------------------------------------------------------------------% Orfice method % Average Voltage of Pressure Transducers in inlet Vo1=((Cr1p2t1+Cr1p1t1+Cr1p3t1+Cr1p4t1+Cr1p5t1+Cr1p6t1+Cr1p7t1+Cr1p8t1+Cr1p9t1 +Cr1p10t1+Cr1p11t1+Cr1p12t1+Cr1p13t1+Cr1p14t1)/14); Vo2=((Cr2p2t1+Cr2p1t1+Cr2p3t1+Cr2p4t1+Cr2p5t1+Cr2p6t1+Cr2p7t1+Cr2p8t1+Cr2p9t1 +Cr2p10t1+Cr2p11t1+Cr2p12t1+Cr2p13t1+Cr2p14t1)/14); Vo=(Vo1+Vo2)/2; % Converting the voltage to a pressure in PSI PoPSI=.371*Vo-.824; % Converting to Pascal Po=(6894.76)*PoPSI; % Calculating mass flow rate parameters K=.67; Y=1; % Values obtained from chart % Calculating Mass FLOW rate mo=Y*K*Ao*sqrt(2*rho*Po)

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