Precise volume flow rate measurements are very important for various industrial applications. Here, one problem is that the service conditions of a flow meter used in the field differ significantly from the conditions present during calibration. The working conditions such as the pressure, the temperature and the flow profile greatly increase the uncertainty of the flow rate measurement.

To address this problem, a new laser-optical flow rate standard (LFS) was developed at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) that allows flow meters to be calibrated on site, thus greatly reducing the uncertainty of the flow rate measurement.

For the LFS, the velocity profile within the pipe is measured with laser Doppler anemometry (LDA). The profile is then integrated to calculate the volume flow rate. Various improvements to LDA have made it possible to measure the flow rate with an uncertainty of less than 0.15 % (k = 2).

A comparison of the LFS with the primary standard for thermal energy at PTB, which has an uncertainty of less than 0.04 % (k = 2), revealed a maximum deviation of 0.07 % for Reynolds numbers from 105 to 106, thus verifying the uncertainty of the LFS.

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