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Larger Line Size -A Frontier of research for Coriolis.

Building large and larger line size Coriolis flow meters is a frontier of research for this meter type. The largest line size currently built is a 16-inch meter built by Endress+Hauser. It is not clear why a larger Coriolis meter cannot be built, but such a meter would have to overcome several barriers:

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- The meter would presumably have to be even larger and heavier than the current large line size meters. This would make it even more difficult to move around and install than existing meters. So far no one has been able to build a 20 inch meter.

- As the meter gets larger, it becomes more difficult to vibrate the meter in such a way that it can reliably indicate mass flow. This is due to the increased weight of the meter.

- Any meter that is larger than the existing meters would be even more expensive than the existing line size meters, some at which sell for $75,000. End-users would likely look for an alternative technology such as ultrasonic or turbine if these other meters could satisfy their needs for considerably less cost.

(from New-Technology Flowmeters, a new book by Dr. Jesse Yoder that was published on September 6th, 2022 by Taylor & Francis)

One possible way this problem can be approached is by using even lighter materials of construction for the flowtubes. This would facilitate the vibration of the meter and also make it lighter
Coriolis flowmeters are a relatively recent entrant into the market. Although the roots of today’s Coriolis flowmeters can be traced back to the 1950s, it was not until 1977 that Micro Motion introduced a commercially viable Coriolis flowmeter for industrial applications. Since that time, a number of other suppliers have entered the market, including Endress+Hauser and KROHNE. 

The principle underlying the Coriolis flowmeter, however, dates back to 1835, when French mathematician Gustave Coriolis showed that an inertial force needs to be taken into account when describing the motion of bodies in a rotating frame of reference. A hypothetical object thrown from the North Pole to the equator, for example, appears to vary from its intended path due to the earth’s rotation -- and this illustrates the Coriolis force.


Learn more about New Technology Flowmeters:

Why Measure Mass Flow?

While in many cases volumetric flow is sufficient, it is also desirable at times to measure mass flow.  Many products are sold by weight rather than by volume, and in these cases it is often desirable to measure mass flow.  Chemical reactions are often based on mass rather than volume, so mass flow measurement is often required in the chemical industry.

While both volumetric and mass flow apply to liquids and gases, mass flow is especially appropriate for measuring gases.  This is because gases are much more affected by temperature and pressure than are liquids.  Pressure has minimal effect on liquids in terms of compressibility and is often ignored in making volumetric measurements of flow.  The effects of temperature on liquids are also often disregarded, except where high accuracy is desired.

Operating Principle

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Description automatically generatedModern Coriolis flowmeters today typically consist of one or two vibrating tubes with an inlet and an outlet.  These tubes can either be straight or bent, though the large majority are bent.  Whether they are single or dual, bent or straight, Coriolis flowmeters rely on oscillating tubes.  The tubes are made to oscillate at their natural resonant frequency by an electromagnetic exciter or drive coil located at the apex of the tubes.  The apex is the highest point of the tube, and it is where the inlet ends, and the outlet begins.  Another way of describing the apex is that it is the central point between the beginning of the tube and the end of the tube.

The peak amplitude of vibration is at the apex of the flow tube or tubes.  Magnet and coil assemblies called pickoffs are mounted at the same corresponding place on the inlet and the outlet portions of the flow tube(s).  As the tubes oscillate, the voltage generated from each pickoff creates a sine wave.  When there is no flow, the inlet and outlet sine waves are in phase.  Being in phase means that they are in a synchronized motion.

The peak amplitude of vibration is at the apex of the flow tube or tubes.  Coriolis flowmeters have a pickoff coil on the inlet side and the outlet side of the flow tube.  The pickoff contains a coil and a magnet.  As the coil moves through the magnetic field from the vibration of the tubes, voltage is produced.  This voltage can be represented as a sine wave. 

When fluid is not moving through the tube, the inlet and outlet sine waves are in phase.  Being in phase means that they are in a synchronized motion.  This means that the waves are moving at
the same rate and exactly together.  When two people synchronize their watches, they set them
to the same time so that the watches are moving together, and both tell the same time.  Under
no flow conditions, the size waves generated by the pickoffs on the inlet and outlet side look exactly the same.

When fluid moves through the tube, the inertial force of the fluid causes the tube to oscillating.  This results in a phase shift, or time difference, between the sine waves on the inlet side of the tube and the sine waves on the outlet side of the tube.  The sine waves generated by the pickoff coils on the inlet and outlet side of the tube are no longer in phase; instead, they are asynchronous.  There is now a difference in time between these sine waves, which is measured in microseconds.  This difference in time is called delta t.  Delta t is directly proportional to mass flowrate.  The mass flowrate is computed by the transmitter, which outputs this value along with other desired values such as density, volumetric flow, and temperature.

While the amount of the phase shift or delta t is directly proportional to mass flowrate, the sine wave frequency indicates density.  Frequency means the number of waves per second.  A heavy fluid like honey will have a lower frequency than a lighter liquid such as water.  Some Coriolis meters are used to measure density rather than flow, but generally both values are desired.

Coriolis flowmeter design

Coriolis flowmeters contain one or more vibrating tubes.  These tubes are usually bent, although straight-tube meters are also available.  The fluid to be measured passes through the vibrating tubes.  It accelerates as it flows toward the maximum vibration point and slows down as it leaves that point. This causes the tubes to twist. The amount of twisting is directly proportional to mass flow.  Position sensors detect tube positions.

Coriolis suppliers have introduced a wide variety of models and types of Coriolis flowmeters in the past 35+ years and differentiate themselves in a number of ways.  One is by the proprietary design of the bent tubes.  Another is by the different types of straight tube Coriolis flowmeters they offer.  

Suppliers also compete by bringing out Coriolis flowmeters for particular industries and applications, such as food & beverage and pharmaceutical.  Accuracy and other performance specifications are other areas of supplier differentiation.

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Description automatically generatedWhile Coriolis flowmeters are loved by many end users, price is often an issue.  Coriolis flowmeters are the most expensive meter made, in terms of average selling price.  The average selling price of Coriolis flowmeters are between $5,000 and $6,000.  Some suppliers have introduced low-cost Coriolis flowmeters in the $3,000 range.  Performance specifications for the lower-cost flowmeters are not at the same level as those of the higher-priced meters.  However, these lower-cost meters can help satisfy the needs of users who want the essential benefits of Coriolis technology but prefer not to pay the higher price.

Coriolis flowmeters are used to measure both liquids and gases, but they do have some limitations with gas flows. Coriolis meters have an easier time measuring liquids than gases because liquids are denser than gases.

Advantages and disadvantages of Coriolis flowmeters



High accuracy

High initial cost

Approved for custody transfer for liquid and gas applications

Becomes expensive and unwieldy in line sizes above four inches

Now available for line sizes above six inches

Gas flow measurement can be difficult due to low density of gas

Can handle sanitary applications

Pressure drop for bent-tube meters

Excel in line sizes of two inches and less

Can have a problem measuring liquids with entrained gas

High reliability, low maintenance


Much new product development ongoing


Flow Research previously published Coriolis studies in 2001, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2016 and 2020. For further information on Coriolis meters and our detailed market reports, please visit www.FlowCoriolis.com.

Another look at the Coriolis principle of operation - by Jesse Yoder


Description automatically generatedFor many years, I've questioned why Coriolis flowmeters are called "Coriolis" meters. I even wrote an article for Flow Control in 2011 arguing they should be called "inertial mass meters," and discussing whether they embody the Coriolis principle. You can read the article at www.flowarticles.com.

I've discussed this with the top engineers and designers at the leading Coriolis companies in the US, UK, and Switzerland. I have even had discussions with colleagues from Germany who have spent 25 years designing these meters. These are the main points discussed.

1. It is believed that Coriolis meters employ a force that governs the behavior of bodies in a rotational frame of reference. This is sometimes called a Coriolis force.

2. Coriolis meters do not employ the "Coriolis effect," which has to do with the observed deflection of a body moving over a rotating platform. This is what Gustave Coriolis was referring to when he wrote about storms being deflected as they move north from the equator.

3. Once you remove the Coriolis effect from the equation, there is no longer any reason to call the meters "Coriolis" meters. Perhaps "oscillating meters" would be more accurate.

This is something I've struggled with for over 10 years and now at last, I see a solution! 
To clarify, Coriolis meters are the most accurate meter made and they solve a lot of flow problems that other meters don't. I'm not saying we should change their name. I am saying that Coriolis meters don't make use of the Coriolis effect.

This has been dubbed a "Coriolis force" by people like Yao Tzu Li who patented an early version of this meter in 1960 and by Anatole Sipin who has 3 patents in the 1960s. This terminology was picked up by dozens of later patents. The problem is that Gustave Coriolis was talking about a "fictitious" force that was described after his death (1843) as the Coriolis effect. It refers to the apparent effect on the motion of an object passing over a rotating frame of reference when viewed from the perspective pf the point of origin that moving object. The force exerted by the oscillating tubes of a Coriolis meter on the fluid is a real force, but it is due to the fluid movement along a small portion of a circle. It is unrelated to Gustave's Coriolis effect.

For more information on Coriolis flowmeters, see New-Technology flowmeters a new book from CRC press, available at New-Technology Flowmeters: Volume I, Yoder, Jesse, eBook - 
The attached picture is the first page of Gustave Coriolis’ 1835 Memoir on the Relative Motion of Bodies, translated in 2022 for the first time from French to English by Flow Research.


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