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The Coriolis principle in mass flow meters: Basics, applications and advantages

The Coriolis principle is related to movement – which is why we are also illustrating it with an example involving movement: Imagine that you are sitting on a rotating carousel and want to throw a ball to another person on the carousel. If you throw the ball in a straight line, it will not reach the person. Furthermore:  From your perspective, it appears as if the ball is deflected by an invisible force. The reason for this is the Coriolis force. This example shows us that the Coriolis effect is a question of perception. Outside the rotating system, which in our example is outside the carousel, the ball flies straight ahead. From your perspective as the thrower, it is deflected and describes an arc.

The Coriolis force also plays a major role on Earth

The Coriolis principle also exists on Earth because the planet is turning and is thus also a rotating system. Although we do not feel this rotation, it nevertheless generates the Coriolis effect, which has a strong influence on our environment. For instance, the Coriolis force is responsible for weather phenomena such as hurricanes. It also affects the ocean currents or the magnetic field of our planet. 

Did you also know that the Coriolis force determines the direction of rotation of hurricanes? In the northern hemisphere, they rotate clockwise. South of the equator, they rotate anti-clockwise.

But what exactly is the Coriolis force? And what does it have to do with the flow measurement of masses?

The basics of the Coriolis principle

What is the Coriolis effect and where does it come from?

If a body moves along the axis of rotation from a rotating system, the Coriolis force acts on it in addition to the centrifugal force. However, this only happens from the perspective of the observer who is inside the moving system. From an outside perspective, the object would still be moving straight ahead.

The law of inertia

The law of inertia according to Newton states that an object will remain in the same state if no external forces are acting upon it. This means that the body is either at rest or moving at a steady speed and in the same direction unless it is compelled by external forces to change its state or its direction of movement.

The Coriolis force

From a physical perspective, the Coriolis force is one of the forces of inertia that is also perceptible in addition to the centrifugal force if the object moves along the rotation axis. For observers, the object appears to be continuously accelerating. The Coriolis force was named after the French scientist Gaspard Gustave de Coriolis, who studied and analysed it mathematically in 1835.

The Coriolis flow-measuring principle

The Coriolis principle can also be used for flow measurement. In this process, a tube is brought into vibration. This represents the rotating system referred to above. The axis of the disc corresponds to the suspension of the tube.

There are different variants of this measuring principle:

  • with one tube
  • with two parallel tubes
  • with straight tubes
  • with folded tubes

In this example the Coriolis sensor tube is secured at both ends and a vibration is induced upon it. In the absence of flow the vibration is symmetrical so the signal detected at the inlet is in phase with the signal at the outlet. 

Higher flow rate = higher phase shift

Fluid flow will change the mass of the tube resulting in phase difference between the two signals. As the flow rate increases so does the phase shift, and this is proportional with the mass of the flow passing through the sensor tube.

Additional Parameters: Density and Temperature

The Coriolis measuring principle can be used with both liquids and gases and gives readings of true mass flow because it is independent of fluid thermodynamic parameters.  As well as measuring the phase difference in the sensor we measure the change in resonant frequency of the sensor. The change of resonant frequency is proportional to the density of the flowing medium and therefore actual fluid density is an additional output parameter. This, combined with the on-board fluid temperature measurement, makes it possible to determine volumetric flow rate at any given time.

Why and for what purpose is the flow rate measured?

The flow rate is suitable for precisely measuring the volume and mass of additives, for example. This establishes the basis for an optimised process flow.

What’s more, the flow rate can serve as a control function for valid hygiene regulations: The cleaning medium must flow at a specific speed through the pipeline to ensure optimum removal of the biofilm.

Where is the Coriolis principle applied?

As a general rule, this measuring principle can be used for measuring liquids, gases and vapours. Depending on the medium, different tubes are used for this purpose.

Liquids e. g.:
Alcohol Cleaning agents and solvents Vinegar Fruit solutions Oils and fuels Beer, milk
Steam e. g.:
Water vapour
Gases, e. g.:
Liquefied gas (LPG) Methane

Coriolis technology can be used irrespective of the medium’s properties, which means that conductivity, density, viscosity etc. do not play a role here: Virtually all substances can be measured. The Coriolis principle can even be applied at high temperatures and in potentially explosive areas.


What advantages do Coriolis mass flow meters and controllers offer you when it comes to dosing?

What advantages do Coriolis mass flow meters and controllers offer you when it comes to dosing?

✓ High measuring accuracy is possible even with small flow measurements
✓ Universal measuring system for mass and density independent of:
       - Conductivity (measurement also possible in liquids with poor conductivity e.g. deionised water)
       - Density of medium
✓ Multivariable measuring principle, simultaneous measurement of:
       - Mass flow
       - Density
✓ Liquid only comes into contact with the tube
✓ No moving parts installed

As you can see, the Coriolis principle is quite astonishing. But what advantages does it offer you? The mass flow meters and controllers that make use of this principle allow you to enjoy exact, reliable and quick dosing. You can use them to optimise your dosing processes for any medium and product. The following solutions allow you to profit from these advantages. Learn more about the use of Coriolis mass flow meters and controllers for dosing the smallest amounts of liquid.

Coriolis mass flow meters and controllers

Mass flow meter MFM Type 8756                                                   Mass flow controller MFC Type 8756 with micro annular gear pump

Grafische Darstellung Massendurchflussmesser MFM Typ 8756 und Massendurchflussregler MFC Typ 8756 mit Mikrozahnringpumpe

Learn more about our mass flow meters and mass flow controllers type 8756.

Type 8756

Mass flow controller (MFC)/mass flow meter (MFM) for liquids

Type 8756
  • Flow measurement/control up to 120 kg/h
  • Very high accuracy and measuring range
  • High long-term stability, no zero-point adjustment necessary
  • Highly resistant wetted materials
  • Suitable for numerous liquids