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Which portable flow meter is right for you?

Which portable flow meter is right for you?

Alicat offers several types of portable mass flow meters to use for quick flow verification and calibration easy in a variety of applications. Portable meter options include models from our standard differential pressure series, portable differential pressure liquid meters, and complete on-the-go calibration kits. Here we discuss these different portable meter solutions and outline use cases for each.

MB-Series: Portable gas mass flow meter

A picture of an MB device

The MB-Series is the portable version of Alicat’s standard laminar differential pressure flow meter for gas and is available for flow ranges from 0.5 SCCM to 5000 SLPM. This instrument is preloaded with configurations for 98 compatible gases, and offers the same high accuracy and precision as its standard M-Series counterpart. Alicat’s COMPOSER gas composition firmware allows for the instrument to be used with mixtures of known gas composition.

This portable meter is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery lasting up to 18 hours and can be used for quick, mobile process validation and flow calibration – with the added benefit of being able to withstand drops. Because the meter has no warm-up time, it can be rapidly moved from one part of a process to another. Fast readings with <10 ms response times are provided on the built-in display which shows all flow data (mass flow, volumetric flow, pressure, and temperature), eliminating the need for a computer or external screen. If desired, however, digital and analog outputs are also available. A battery status indicator warns when it is time to re-charge the device.

The MB portable meter is ideal for many applications requiring process validation or calibration. Its portable nature makes these routine procedures faster while reducing process downtime. One application example involves using an MB portable meter to perform in-house flow verification for a gas chromatograph.

Best for
  • 0.5 SCCM – 5000 SLPM
Avoid for
  • low pressure drop
  • aggressive gases

MBS-Series: Anti-corrosive portable gas mass flow meter

The MBS-Series is the anti-corrosive variant of Alicat’s standard MB-Series portable meter. The flow body and sensor are 316L stainless steel and the wetted elastomer material is upgraded to FFKM to ensure compatibility with more aggressive gases including SO2, H2S, and NH3, expanding the total number of usable gases to 130.

Best for
  • 0.5 SCCM – 5000 SLPM
Avoid for
  • low pressure drop

MWB-Series: Low pressure drop portable gas mass flow meter

MWB portable flow meterThe MWB-Series is a portable version of Alicat’s Whisper series mass flow meter for pressure drops as low as 0.07 PSID at full-scale flow. This feature makes MWB a good choice for calibration and verification of processes requiring accurate flow measurement at near-atmospheric or low system pressures. For example, the MWB portable meter is an ideal solution for non-intrusive volumetric flow calibration of air sampling canisters.

Best for
  • 0.5 SCCM – 1000 SLPM
  • low pressure drop
Avoid for
  • aggressive gases

MBQ-Series: High pressure gas mass flow meter

The MBQ-Series is a portable version of the MQ-Series high pressure gas flow meter, able to flow high pressure gases up to 160 – 320 PSIA. This makes the MBQ a good portable meter for applications with high operating pressures at mid to high flow rates.

Best for
  • 10 SCCM – 3000 SLPM
  • high pressure
Avoid for
  • aggressive gases
  • low operating pressures

LB-Series: Portable liquid flow meter

Alicat LB-series portable liquid flow meter

The LB-Series is the only Alicat portable flow meter usable with liquids. This portable meter has a response time of 20 ms and can be used for flow rates from 0.5 CCM to 10 LPM. These instruments are specifically designed for calibration of water flow rates with NIST-traceable accuracy as good as 2% of full-scale, but can also be calibrated for use with methanol, iso-propanol, ethanol, and other low-viscosity process fluids.  Like the MB-Series, these portable meters can be used for leak testing and flow validation/calibration, but for liquids instead of gases.

Best for
  • 0.5 CCM – 10 LPM
  • liquids
Avoid for
  • high viscosity liquids
  • high operating pressures

PCU: Gas flow portable calibration unit

Alicat PCU portable calibration unit with optional color displaysAlicat’s portable calibration unit (PCU) combines three flow meters in a single case that can be powered by 4 AA batteries or an included AC cable. With three meters, the overlapping measurement ranges of a PCU (for example, 5 SCCM – 5000 SLPM) allow for NIST-traceable, high accuracy calibration across a dynamic range of up to 100,000:1. With the flow meters encased in one drop-resistant case, the PCU is ideal for quick on-the-go verification and calibration of processes containing multiple flow instruments or varying flow rates. The PCU can be configured with flow meters for high operating pressures, low pressure drops, and aggressive gases as well.

Best for
  • varied flow rates
  • changing flow rates
  • multiple instruments
Avoid for
  • processes where a single portable meter is sufficient

FP-25: Calibrator kit for air quality monitoring

Alicat FP-25 flow calibrating a Thermo Scientific Partisol 2000 FRM air samplerThe FP-25 is a comprehensive calibration kit specifically created for air quality monitoring. It is designed to be compatible with all PM air monitors (TEOM, Partisol, BAM, T640) for use in the auditing of particulate matter samples. The FP-25 contains temperature probes and humidity sensors to monitor the weather as the flow meter provides real-time flow, pressure, and temperature readings, and the device can be used outdoors even under extreme weather conditions. The calibrator is mounted directly to the air monitoring instrument, and is IP67 rated with internal sensors that can maintain accuracy between -30°C to +60°C and up to 95% relative humidity.

This device comes with a Bluetooth antenna that is strong enough to go through a steel shipping container. The Alicat Connect app allows for remote reading of air sampler measurements, making jobs faster and reducing time on ladders. Alicat Connect also features data logging capabilities for integration with data management software.

Best for
  • calibration for air quality monitoring
Avoid for
  • process fluids / anything else

Technology comparison overview

MB MBS MWB MBQ LB FP-25
Portable
For gas
For aggressive gas
For liquid
For low pressure drop
Totalizer function
No warm up time