Logo of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
Into the Future with Metrology - The Challenges of Digitalization

Development of a virtual flow meter

The aim of this project is to establish numerical flow simulations as a reliable and practicable tool for the calibration and uncertainty determination of flowmeters (DFM). Important work contents are CFD simulations to simulate different flow configurations and to analyze their effects on the measuring instruments. The possibility of virtually assessing flowmeters with significantly higher accuracy using simulations would not only strengthen current research cooperations, but would also enable further project partnerships. With the development described above, it would be much more advantageous for manufacturers to develop new measuring instruments and further improve existing ones.

Current status

The department 7.5 has been working with various manufacturers of flowmeters (e.g. FLEXIM or KROHNE) for a long time. Important work contents are CFD simulations to simulate different flow configurations and to analyze their effects on the measuring instruments. In recent years, department 8.4 has been involved in a number of EMRP and EMPIR projects, which involved flow simulations (EMRP ENG58, EMPIR 16ENG07) and the determination of uncertainties (EMRP NEW04). This preparatory work by the departments 7.5 and 8.4 has already led to four joint journal papers in the field and thus created a sound basis.

The work will be complemented by the development of a virtual flow meter for water meters in FB 1.5 as part of the ongoing EMPIR project METROWAMET, which is intended to enable the estimation of the influence of water quality on the measurement quality of water meters. In a second step, the framework set up in the project will be transferred to the calibration of flowmeters in order to determine the influence of dynamic measurement conditions on the measurement deviation in the future and thus be able to make a statement on the calibration quality.

Aims and outlook

Flow simulations are becoming increasingly important in the industrial environment, as they represent a cost-effective alternative to expensive prototype production and complex measurements. By developing methods that lead to a virtual measuring device, flowmeters can be optimized on the computer and correction factors can be adapted to the respective flow conditions. This means that a large number of costly and time-consuming measurements can be saved when developing and evaluating new measuring instruments. Therefore, it is necessary for PTB to provide suitable data of uncertainty considerations and calibrated test cases for the approval of heat meters for the simulation of pipe flows in order to achieve a higher accuracy of the calculations and their improved uncertainty quantification and to enable an increased reliability of the prediction of the measured value.


  1. A. Weissenbrunner, A. Fiebach, S. Schmelter, M. Bär, P. Thamsen und T. Lederer, "Opens external link in new windowSimulation-based determination of systematic errors of flow meters due to uncertain inflow conditions" Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, 52:25 – 39, 2016.
  2. S. Schmelter, A. Fiebach und A. Weissenbrunner, "Opens external link in new windowPolynomchaos zur Unsicherheitsquantifizierung in Strömungssimulationen für metrologische Anwendungen". tm-Technisches Messen, 83(2): 71-76, 2016.
  3. A. Weissenbrunner, A. Fiebach, M. Juling und P. U. Thamsen, "Opens external link in new windowA coupled numerical and laser optical method for on-site calibration of flow meters" Eccomas Proceedia UNCECOMP, 5393: 576-587, 2017.
  4. M. Straka, A. Fiebach, T. Eichler und C. Koglin. "Opens external link in new windowHybrid simulation of a segmental orifice plate. Flow Measurement and Instrumentation", ISSN 0955-5986 
  5. S. Schmelter, A. Fiebach, R. Model und M. Bär. "Opens external link in new windowNumerical prediction of the influence of uncertain inflow conditions in pipes by polynomial chaos" Int. J. Comp. Fluid. Dyn., 29(6-8):411-422, 2015.