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Many instruments have been invented to measure pressure, with different advantages and disadvantages. Pressure range, sensitivity, dynamic response and cost all vary by several orders of magnitude from one instrument design to the next. The oldest type is the liquid column (a vertical tube filled with mercury) manometer invented by Evangelista Torricelli in 1643. The U-Tube was invented by Christian Huygens in 1661.
Hydrostatic gauges (such as the mercury column manometer) compare pressure to the hydrostatic force per unit area at the base of a column of fluid. Hydrostatic gauge measurements are independent of the type of gas being measured, and can be designed to have a very linear calibration. They have poor dynamic response.
Piston-type gauges counterbalance the pressure of a fluid with a spring (for example tire-pressure gauges of comparatively low accuracy) or a solid weight, in which case it is known as a deadweight tester and may be used for calibration of other gauges.
The difference in fluid height in a liquid column manometer is proportional to the pressure difference.
Liquid column gauges consist of a vertical column of liquid in a tube whose ends are exposed to different pressures. The column will rise or fall until its weight is in equilibrium with the pressure differential between the two ends of the tube. A very simple version is a U-shaped tube half-full of liquid, one side of which is connected to the region of interest while the reference pressure (which might be the atmospheric pressure or a vacuum) is applied to the other. The difference in liquid level represents the applied pressure. The pressure exerted by a column of fluid of height h and density ρ is given by the hydrostatic pressure equation, P = hgρ. Therefore the pressure difference between the applied pressure Pa and the reference pressure P0 in a U-tube manometer can be found by solving Pa − P0 = hgρ. In other words, the pressure on either end of the liquid (shown in blue in the figure to the right) must be balanced (since the liquid is static) and so Pa = P0 + hgρ. If the fluid being measured is significantly dense, hydrostatic corrections may have to be made for the height between the moving surface of the manometer working fluid and the location where the pressure measurement is desired except when measuring differential pressure of a fluid (for example across an orifice plate or venturi), in which case the density ρ should be corrected by subtracting the density of the fluid being measured.
Although any fluid can be used, mercury is preferred for its high density (13.534 g/cm3) and low vapour pressure. For low pressure differences well above the vapour pressure of water, water is commonly used (and "inches of water" is a common pressure unit). Liquid-column pressure gauges are independent of the type of gas being measured and have a highly linear calibration. They have poor dynamic response. When measuring vacuum, the working liquid may evaporate and contaminate the vacuum if its vapor pressure is too high. When measuring liquid pressure, a loop filled with gas or a light fluid can isolate the liquids to prevent them from mixing but this can be unnecessary, for example when mercury is used as the manometer fluid to measure differential pressure of a fluid such as water. Simple hydrostatic gauges can measure pressures ranging from a few Torr (a few 100 Pa) to a few atmospheres. (Approximately 1,000,000 Pa)
A single-limb liquid-column manometer has a larger reservoir instead of one side of the U-tube and has a scale beside the narrower column. The column may be inclined to further amplify the liquid movement. Based on the use and structure following type of manometers are used
1. Simple Manometer
2. Micro manometer
3. Differential manometer
4. Inverted differential manometer
A McLeod gauge, drained of mercury
A McLeod gauge isolates a sample of gas and compresses it in a modified mercury manometer until the pressure is a few mmHg. The gas must be well-behaved during its compression (it must not condense, for example). The technique is slow and unsuited to continual monitoring, but is capable of good accuracy.
Useful range: above 10-4 torr  (roughly 10-2 Pa) as high as 10−6 Torr (0.1 mPa),
0.1 mPa is the lowest direct measurement of pressure that is possible with current technology. Other vacuum gauges can measure lower pressures, but only indirectly by measurement of other pressure-controlled properties. These indirect measurements must be calibrated to SI units via a direct measurement, most commonly a McLeod gauge.
Aneroid gauges are based on a metallic pressure sensing element that flexes elastically under the effect of a pressure difference across the element. "Aneroid" means "without fluid," and the term originally distinguished these gauges from the hydrostatic gauges described above. However, aneroid gauges can be used to measure the pressure of a liquid as well as a gas, and they are not the only type of gauge that can operate without fluid. For this reason, they are often called mechanical gauges in modern language. Aneroid gauges are not dependent on the type of gas being measured, unlike thermal and ionization gauges, and are less likely to contaminate the system than hydrostatic gauges. The pressure sensing element may be a Bourdon tube, a diaphragm, a capsule, or a set of bellows, which will change shape in response to the pressure of the region in question. The deflection of the pressure sensing element may be read by a linkage connected to a needle, or it may be read by a secondary transducer. The most common secondary transducers in modern vacuum gauges measure a change in capacitance due to the mechanical deflection. Gauges that rely on a change in capacitances are often referred to as Baratron gauges.
The Bourdon pressure gauge uses the principle that a flattened tube tends to change to a more circular cross-section when pressurized. Although this change in cross-section may be hardly noticeable, and thus involving moderate stresses within the elastic range of easily workable materials, the strain of the material of the tube is magnified by forming the tube into a C shape or even a helix, such that the entire tube tends to straighten out or uncoil, elastically, as it is pressurized. Eugene Bourdon patented his gauge in France in 1849, and it was widely adopted because of its superior sensitivity, linearity, and accuracy; Edward Ashcroft purchased Bourdon's American patent rights in 1852 and became a major manufacturer of gauges. Also in 1849, Bernard Schaeffer in Magdeburg, Germany patented a successful diaphragm (see below) pressure gauge, which, together with the Bourdon gauge, revolutionized pressure measurement in industry. But in 1875 after Bourdon's patents expired, his company Schaeffer and Budenberg also manufactured Bourdon tube gauges.
In practice, a flattened thin-wall, closed-end tube is connected at the hollow end to a fixed pipe containing the fluid pressure to be measured. As the pressure increases, the closed end moves in an arc, and this motion is converted into the rotation of a (segment of a) gear by a connecting link that is usually adjustable. A small-diameter pinion gear is on the pointer shaft, so the motion is magnified further by the gear ratio. The positioning of the indicator card behind the pointer, the initial pointer shaft position, the linkage length and initial position, all provide means to calibrate the pointer to indicate the desired range of pressure for variations in the behaviour of the Bourdon tube itself. Differential pressure can be measured by gauges containing two different Bourdon tubes, with connecting linkages.
Bourdon tubes measure gauge pressure, relative to ambient atmospheric pressure, as opposed to absolute pressure; vacuum is sensed as a reverse motion. Some aneroid barometers use Bourdon tubes closed at both ends (but most use diaphragms or capsules, see below). When the measured pressure is rapidly pulsing, such as when the gauge is near a reprocating pump, an orifice restriction in the connecting pipe is frequently used to avoid unnecessary wear on the gears and provide an average reading; when the whole gauge is subject to mechanical vibration, the entire case including the pointer and indicator card can be filled with an oil or glycerin. Tapping on the face of the gauge is not recommended as it will tend to falsify actual readings initially presented by the gauge.The boudon tube is separate from the face of the gauge and this has ne effect on the actual reading of pressure. Typical high-quality modern gauges provide an accuracy of ±2% of span, and a special high-precision gauge can be as accurate as 0.1% of full scale.
In the following illustrations the transparent cover face of the pictured combination pressure and vacuum gauge has been removed and the mechanism removed from the case. This particular gauge is a combination vacuum and pressure gauge used for automotive diagnosis:
Indicator side with card and dial
Mechanical side with Bourdon tube
• the left side of the face, used for measuring manifold vacuum, is calibrated in centimetres of mercury on its inner scale and inches of mercury on its outer scale.
• the right portion of the face is used to measure fuel pump pressure and is calibrated in fractions of 1 kgf/cm² on its inner scale and pounds per square inch on its outer scale.
• A: Receiver block. This joins the inlet pipe to the fixed end of the Bourdon tube (1) and secures the chassis plate (B). The two holes receive screws that secure the case.
• B: Chassis plate. The face card is attached to this. It contains bearing holes for the axles.
• C: Secondary chassis plate. It supports the outer ends of the axles.
• D: Posts to join and space the two chassis plates.
1. Stationary end of Bourdon tube. This communicates with the inlet pipe through the receiver block.
2. Moving end of Bourdon tube. This end is sealed.
3. Pivot and pivot pin.
4. Link joining pivot pin to lever (5) with pins to allow joint rotation.
5. Lever. This an extension of the sector gear (7).
6. Sector gear axle pin.
7. Sector gear.
8. Indicator needle axle. This has a spur gear that engages the sector gear (7) and extends through the face to drive the indicator needle. Due to the short distance between the lever arm link boss and the pivot pin and the difference between the effective radius of the sector gear and that of the spur gear, any motion of the Bourdon tube is greatly amplified. A small motion of the tube results in a large motion of the indicator needle.
9. Hair spring to preload the gear train to eliminate gear lash and hysteresis.
A pile of pressure capsules with corrugated diaphragms in an aneroid barograph.
A second type of aneroid gauge uses the deflection of a flexible membrane that separates regions of different pressure. The amount of deflection is repeatable for known pressures so the pressure can be determined by using calibration. The deformation of a thin diaphragm is dependent on the difference in pressure between its two faces. The reference face can be open to atmosphere to measure gauge pressure, open to a second port to measure differential pressure, or can be sealed against a vacuum or other fixed reference pressure to measure absolute pressure. The deformation can be measured using mechanical, optical or capacitive techniques. Ceramic and metallic diaphragms are used.
Useful range: above 10-2 Torr  (roughly 1 Pa)
For absolute measurements, welded pressure capsules with diaphragms on either side are often used.
• flattened tube
In gauges intended to sense small pressures or pressure differences, or require that an absolute pressure be measured, the gear train and needle may be driven by an enclosed and sealed bellows chamber, called an aneroid, which means "without liquid". (Early barometers used a column of liquid such as water or the liquid metal mercury suspended by a vacuum.) This bellows configuration is used in aneroid barometers (barometers with an indicating needle and dial card), altimeters, altitude recording barographs, and the altitude telemetry instruments used in weather balloon radiosondes. These devices use the sealed chamber as a reference pressure and are driven by the external pressure. Other sensitive aircraft instruments such as air speed indicators and rate of climb indicators (variometers) have connections both to the internal part of the aneroid chamber and to an external enclosing chamber.
Pressure Gauges and switches
Pressure gauges and switches are among the most often used instruments in a plant. But because of their great numbers, attention to maintenance--and reliability--can be compromised. As a consequence, it is not uncommon in older plants to see many gauges and switches out of service. This is unfortunate because, if a plant is operated with a failed pressure switch, the safety of the plant may be compromised. Conversely, if a plant can operate safely while a gauge is defective, it shows that the gauge was not needed in the first place. Therefore, one goal of good process instrumentation design is to install fewer but more useful and more reliable pressure gauges and switches.
One way to reduce the number of gauges in a plant is to stop installing them on the basis of habit (such as placing a pressure gauge on the discharge of every pump). Instead, review the need for each device individually. During the review one should ask: "What will I do with the reading of this gauge?" and install one only if there is a logical answer to the question. If a gauge only indicates that a pump is running, it is not needed, since one can hear and see that. If the gauge indicates the pressure (or pressure drop) in the process, that information is valuable only if one can do something about it (like cleaning a filter); otherwise it is useless. If one approaches the specification of pressure gauges with this mentality, the number of gauges used will be reduced. If a plant uses fewer, better gauges, reliability will increase.