Theoretical, numerical, and experimental study of the time of flight flowmeter

Ian Gaskin, Evgeniy Shapiro, Dimitris Drikakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Time-of-flight flowmeters offer advantages over other flowmeter types since these are less sensitive to the physical properties of the fluid. However, calibration of the flowmeter for a particular working fluid is still required. A flowmeter that does not require re-calibration with different fluids is desirable in many applications. This paper investigates the performance of a device that measures the time of flight of a heat pulse in a gas stream to determine the flow rate in a pipe. A fusion of the theoretical, experimental, and numerical data is used to suggest a gas-independent correlation function between the response time and flow rate. In particular, the numerical data augmented by the theoretical analysis to account for the wire response time is validated against experimental data and used to further enhance the experimental data set. Nitrogen, helium, and tetrafluoroethane (R134a) are investigated, as these gases provide a wide range of physical and thermodynamic properties. Simulated results match the trends of experimental data well and allow good qualitative analysis. The results also show that using detected pulse width information together with the time of flight can yield a 20 reduction in the errors due to gas type than by using time of flight data alone. This gives a relatively gas-independent function over a dynamic range of 1:400.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041401
JournalJournal of Fluids Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2011


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