A prototype gas prover was constructed to serve as the Italian primary standard for gas flow rates in the range 0.1 ml/min to 2 l/min. The new prover is used to calibrate…
A prototype gas prover was constructed to serve as the Italian primary standard for gas flow rates in the range 0.1 ml/min to 2 l/min. The new prover is used to calibrate high‐quality industrial standards, as well as the MFCs used in microelectronic fabrications and preparation of reference gas mixtures.Design/methodology/approach – The prover measures gas volume transfers caused by displacements of a 120 mm dia. motor‐operated piston, which is introduced into a temperature‐controlled chamber containing up to 3 l of the required working gas at near ambient conditions. Gas delivery is made at constant rate, whereas possibly variable incoming flows are measured at constant pressure. Displacements of the piston are measured by an optical interferometer.Findings – The analysis shows that standard uncertainty ranges between 0.013 and 0.03 percent. Owing to the very accurate control and measurement of both pressures and temperatures, these figures refer equally to volume and mass flowrate. Experimental comparisons with similar national standards at LNE‐France and NIST‐USA confirmed the consistency of measurement results in the three Nations.Research limitations/implications – The gas prover should be used with inert gases only.Practical implications – The national industrial gas standards and the best flow transducers can now be calibrated accurately down to unprecedented flowrate values.Originality/value – The need for measurement of extremely low gas flows is quite recent, therefore possibly less than ten primary national standards are available today worldwide. Several completely different principles and designs have been developed; description of design and performance of each instrument is important to assess their respective merits. The described apparatus is innovative as regards measurement range, accuracy and control techniques.