The accuracy of flow meters measuring natural gas has enormous commercial importance. NIST is developing a new technique to calibrate large flows at high pressures, like natural gas flowing inside interstate pipelines, replacing today’s expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive approach.
NIST is working with the Colorado Engineering Experiment Station, Inc. (CEESI), an independent laboratory that calibrates flow meters, to develop a new technique to calibrate flow meters for high pressures. NIST has a long-standing research program to improve flow meter calibrations, connecting basic research in physics and measurement science directly to industry needs.
In 2015, NIST scientists demonstrated a proof-of- principle of a new method to overcome one of the major hurdles in calibrating large flow meters—accurately knowing the average temperature of gas collected in a tank. Now, they are partnering with industry to scale-up this technique using a large high-pressure spherical vessel as the collection volume. NIST scientists have already identified and overcome one potential issue with scale-up, reducing the time industry needs to spend improving the technique prior to implementation.
NIST does not have the infrastructure required to test really large flow meters of the sort used in interstate pipelines. However, NIST’s industry partner, CEESI, has a calibration facility located next to a pipeline, and they have collection vessels with volumes of 20 cubic meters. Thus, the lessons learned from NIST’s research will reach industry.
Questions? Contact NIST Inquiries.
25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas delivered to U.S. customers in 2016
“I doubt there is another organization in the world that could do what NIST is doing. The benefit to the natural gas industry will be immense. It’s critical that large natural gas meters are calibrated accurately and every energy dollar is accounted for using the best technology available. [NIST scientists] are redefining that standard to the best technology possible. This is a game changer.”
– Eric Harman, CEESI Natural Gas/Multiphase Engineer