Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) News

Printer Friendly Version

Southwest Research Institute takes ownership of metering research facility

San Antonio -- September 23, 2003 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has purchased the GTI Metering Research Facility (MRF), located at SwRI. The Institute has operated the facility for the Gas Technology Institute since the MRF opened for business in November 1991.

"SwRI and GTI have worked together for many years to help the natural gas industry improve gas flow measurement," said Dr. Robert L. Bass, vice president of SwRI's Mechanical and Materials Engineering Division, which oversees the MRF. "This important acquisition will allow us to continue to provide services to our many clients in the gas industry after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission R&D funding administered by GTI ends in 2005." Terms of the MRF sale were not disclosed.

Accurate metering is an important concern for both the natural gas industry and its consumers. Errors as small as one percent can have significant economic implications when metering large volumes of gas.

Occupying more than 10 acres, the MRF was developed by SwRI under GTI sponsorship to provide state-of-the-art research and testing capabilities to measure the performance of new and existing gas meters over a range of natural gas flow conditions and installation configurations of interest to the gas transmission, distribution and production industries.

The MRF provides assistance with flow meter design, development and calibration; meter station layout and optimization; field diagnostics and trouble-shooting; gas sampling methods; and personnel training.

Using a test medium of either natural gas or nitrogen, the MRF provides a broad range of test conditions similar to those experienced in the field. Gravimetric flow calibration standards at the MRF provide NIST-traceable mass flow rate measurement accuracies on the order of (0.1 to (0.25 percent, depending on test conditions. Test gas flow rates of up to approximately seven million standard cubic feet per hour can be provided at pressures ranging from near atmospheric to 1,215 psig.

To cover the necessary range of test flow conditions, the MRF includes three primary flow systems: a smaller, low-pressure loop with test section diameters up to 6 inches; a high-pressure loop with capabilities for testing meters in pipes of up to 12 inches in diameter; and a distribution meter test stand for research and calibration of small, low-pressure, residential and commercial gas meters used by the gas distribution industry.

"The MRF currently supports research funded by GTI, the Department of Energy, Minerals Management Service and others, as well as commercial test and calibration work," said Edgar B. Bowles, manager of SwRI's Fluid Systems Engineering Section. Current research includes turbine, ultrasonic and orifice flow meters; direct energy flow rate meters; and pipeline gas-sampling methods. The MRF is also used by gas meter manufacturers to assist with the development of new gas meter designs and by gas pipeline operators for precision calibrations of their field meters.

Additionally, in cooperation with the Southern Gas Association, SwRI staff members also conduct personnel training short courses on natural gas measurement.

"Our purchase of the MRF demonstrates SwRI's long-term commitment to providing cost-effective, world-class gas measurement research and test capabilities to the natural gas industry," Bowles said. "We look forward to continuing our close association with our existing clients. We will also be looking for ways to make the MRF even more of an industry asset in the future."

For more information about the SwRI Metering Research Facility and its services, visit or contact Bowles at (210) 522-2086 or

For more information, contact Deborah Deffenbaugh, Communications Department, (210) 522-2046, Fax (210) 522-3547, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

SwRI News separate.gif (834 bytes) SwRI Home