Advanced science.  Applied technology.

Flow Measurement Research Programs

The Metering Research Facility (MRF) conducts research programs through funding by the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), private companies, the U.S. government, and other industry organizations.

The following research programs are currently supported at the MRF.

Ultrasonic Flow Meters

Ultrasonic flow meter research at SwRI has provided necessary test data to the American Gas Association (AGA) Transmission Measurement Committee (TMC) Task Group working to revise AGA Report No. 9 – Measurement of Gas by Multipath Ultrasonic Meters.

PRCI-funded research is guided by the PRCI Measurement Technical committee. For more information on the PRCI directed research and recent accomplishments, see the PRCI website.

Orifice Flow Meters

The orifice flow meter research program is not currently active in the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) research.

The orifice meter research program began in 1989 at the Metering Research Facility (MRF) with the objective of solving installation effects issues and operational issues (adverse effects of abnormal operating conditions).

Coriolis Flow Meters

In 2001, the Metering Research Facility (MRF) assisted the American Gas Association (AGA) Transmission Measurement Committee (Task Group No. 11) with the development of the first Coriolis gas flow meter standard for custody transfer applications. The AGA standard (published in 2002) provides guidelines for meter installation configuration, meter verification testing, and meter operation and maintenance.

The AGA Transmission Measurement Committee Coriolis Meter Task Group prepared a Technical Note that characterizes the state of the art of this technology and helps to define meter accuracy limits, the performance envelope, and operational sensitivities of Coriolis meters for natural gas applications. Baseline flow performance tests using commercially available Coriolis meters were conducted at the MRF to assist with the development of the new standard. Installation effects tests were also performed to determine the sensitivity of commercially available meters to flow field distortions caused by the upstream piping configuration. The AGA Coriolis Meters Technical Note was published in 2002 following the completion of the 2001 MRF research.

Coriolis meters are gaining acceptance worldwide for natural gas flow rate measurement. In the near future, this metering technology may fill an existing need for an accurate high-pressure, low-volume gas flow meter.

​In a recent report to the GTI Measurement Technical Committee, TransCanada Pipeline (TCP) estimated the benefits of deploying this technology for high-pressure custody transfer applications to be between $37,000 and 104,000 per meter per year. If the industry-wide deployment averaged 100 new meters per year, the annual cost benefit would be approximately $3.7 to $10.4 million.

Turbine Flow Meters

Turbine meter research provides information to assist the American Gas Association (AGA) Transmission Measurement Committee (Task Group No. 12) with the revision of the gas turbine meter standard for custody transfer applications (AGA Report No. 7, Measurement of Gas by Turbine Meters). The revised document will be a performance-based standard, which will require the development of a performance verification test protocol and the selection of criteria to evaluate meter performance. Past research at the Metering Research Facility (MRF) determined the extent and magnitude of pressure-related trends in meter calibrations and established the best division between "low" and "high" pressures for measurement uncertainty requirements in the revised standard. The program also tested installation effects and possible bias due to meter bodies being used with different meter cartridges (i.e., cartridge change-out effects.)

Natural Gas Sampling Methods

The revision of American Petroleum Institute (API) Chapter 14.1, Collecting and Handling of Natural Gas Samples for Custody Transfer, of the API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards (MPMS) was completed in 2001. During the revision, the API Working Group compiled a list of unresolved technical issues related to natural gas sampling methodology.

This research project is to address these unresolved technical issues.