Welcome to

    Discover More


       New Tech

       Traditional Tech

       Emerging Tech












    Follow Us



FlowTime Clock ...
What flowtime is it?

Time displayed is Flowtime.

Flow Research has completed a new set of three market studies on the worldwide ultrasonic flowmeter market.  These studies determined the size of the ultrasonic flowmeter market in 2022 with input for 2023 and forecast its market size through 2027.  This was our first look at the ultrasonic flowmeter market since the pandemic. The three studies are called:

  •  Core Study:  The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 7th Edition

  • ·Module A:    The World Market for Inline Ultrasonic Flowmeters

  • ·Module B:     The World Market for Clamp-on and Insertion Ultrasonic Flowmeters

See the forest and the trees with our three studies:



Description automatically generated

This is the 7th Edition of this study, which was previously published in 2001, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2017, and 2021. This study series includes three components that, together, cover the entire scope of the ultrasonic flowmeter market but can also function as standalones. The new studies build on the knowledge gained over the years since our last full treatment of the subject but will also represent a completely fresh look at the market.

Creating three separate modules for the ultrasonic study has proved to be very enlightening.  For example, multipath inline ultrasonic flowmeters are especially important in the fast-growing market for custody transfer of natural gas.  This ultrasonic technology type is highlighted here in Module A, and it is analyzed in terms of dollar and unit shipments worldwide and by region, as well as by average selling prices worldwide and by region.

Core Study

The Core Study of the Ultrasonic series analyzes the world market for all types of ultrasonic flowmeters. It will include 2022 market size with reliable input for 2023, provides in-depth segmentation of the market by various product and geographic categories, provides detailed market growth projections through 2027, and includes 2022 market shares. It also includes a technology analysis, profiles of significant supplier companies, and provides detailed market strategies for suppliers. The studies gauge the extent of the post-pandemic rebound that is boosting many markets.

Module A – Inline

The inline market is quite different from the clamp-on and insertion markets.  This applies to applications, industries, price points, and many other factors.  By isolating the inline (spoolpiece) market from the clamp-on and insertion markets, a much more compelling and informative analysis results

This study, Module A of the ultrasonic series, analyzes the world market for inline ultrasonic flowmeters.  It includes a technology analysis, 2022 and 2023 market size data, and provides in-depth segmentation of the market by various product and geographic categories.  It also includes detailed market growth projections through 2027 for all types of inline ultrasonic flowmeters.  Detailed market strategies are provided for suppliers.

  Module B – Clamp-on and Insertion

  This study, Module B of the ultrasonic series, analyzes the world markets for clamp-on and for insertion ultrasonic flowmeters, with a dedicated chapter for each.  This study covers 2022 and 2023 market size with detailed segmentation and forecasts through 2027.  It includes technology analysis, 2019 market shares of major suppliers, average selling prices, supplier profiles, product analyses, and discussions of market circumstances and growth factors.  Detailed market strategies are provided for suppliers.

Module B: The World Market for Clamp-On and Insertion Ultrasonic Flowmeters, contains its own set of segmentation designed to provide a comprehensive view of these two members of ultrasonic flowmeter technology and its markets.  There is segmentation to address the unique qualities of these two ultrasonic flowmeter designs.  The study segmentation specific to clamp-on and to insertion design types in the Study Overview.

Clamp-on and insertion ultrasonic flowmeters have established their own set of advantages within the flow measurement market.  Clamp-on devices are highly versatile in that they can be installed in either a portable or fixed manner, making them ideal choices for economical meter upgrades, as check meters, and a host of other applications.  Clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters are suitable for use with gas, liquid, and steam flows.  Insertion devices permit users to obtain the benefits of ultrasonic technology in virtually any line size.

Modules A and B Together

The two modules analyze the inline, clamp-on, and insertion markets individually, enabling us to separate out unit price and unit quantity data for each technology, and to provide a distinctive analysis for each of these three fundamentally different ultrasonic flowmeter types.

Together these three studies enable you to see both the forest and the trees when it comes to the ultrasonic flowmeter market. Flow Research stands alone in providing such a comprehensive analysis of the worldwide ultrasonic flowmeter market.

Ultrasonic Flowmeter History

Tokyo Keiki had first introduced ultrasonic clamp-on flowmeters to commercial markets in Japan in 1963.  In 1971, Badger Meter first brought clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters to the United States by reselling Tokyo Keiki’s meters. In 1972, Controlotron began manufacturing its clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters in Long Island, New York.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Doppler flowmeters began to be used.  Because they were not well understood, they were often misapplied.  As a result, many users got a bad impression of ultrasonic flowmeters during this time.  In the 1990s, transit-time emerged as the leading ultrasonic technology, and ultrasonic meters began growing significantly in popularity and capabilities.

In the early 1980s, both Panametrics and Ultraflux experimented with ultrasonic meters for gas-flow measurement. In the mid-1990s, a group called Group Europeen de Recherches Gaziers (GERG) published a technical monograph on ultrasonic flowmeters for gas flow measurement. A monograph out of GERG led to increased European ultrasonic flowmeter use from 1996 to 1999.

The GERG monograph laid the groundwork for the publication of AGA-9 by the American Gas Association. AGA-9 lays out criteria for using ultrasonic flowmeters for custody-transfer applications. Since its publication in June 1998, ultrasonic flowmeters have become widely used for custody transfer of natural gas. They are especially suited for measuring gas flow in large pipelines, easily handling flow in those above 20 inches in diameter, as well as smaller pipelines. Its main competitors for custody transfer of natural gas are the differential-pressure (DP) orifice meter and turbine flowmeter.

It used to be standard practice to divide the ultrasonic flowmeter market up according to whether the meters are transit-time, Doppler or hybrid. Traditional use of transit-time meters was to clean liquids, while Doppler meters handle fluids with impurities. Hybrid meters are a combination of transit-time and Doppler, and use one technology or the other, depending on the fluid. In the past 10 years, transit-time suppliers made great progress getting transit-time meters to measure fluid flows with some impurities. As a result, Doppler and hybrid meters are less important since transit-time meters are now used for applications previously reserved for Doppler meters. Another reason for growth in transit-time meters is their use in energy industries, mainly oil and gas, within which Doppler flowmeters play no major role.

Mounting type is now the more useful way to classify ultrasonic flowmeters, rather than transit time vs. Doppler. Three main mounting types for ultrasonic flowmeters include:

  • ·         Inline

  • ·         Clamp-on

  • ·         Insertion

Inline ultrasonic flowmeters are mounted with a meter body in the pipe. Inline meters achieve the highest accuracy of any ultrasonic meters, and multipath ultrasonic meters are inline meters. Multipath meters have three or more ultrasonic signals or “paths” to determine flow velocity. This gives them greater accuracy than single- and dual-path meters. The most common number of paths is four, five and six, but some multi-path meters have eight, 12 or even 18 paths. Inline meters are used for custody transfer applications.

Clamp-on meter disadvantages limit their usefulness in certain situations. The ultrasonic signal can be attenuated by the pipe wall. Knowing pipe-wall thickness and composition can be important. In addition, build-up on the inside of the pipe wall can affect the internal diameter of the pipe. Knowing the internal pipe diameter is important to getting a correct flowmeter reading.

Insertion meters are sometimes used in large pipes when a spool-piece would be expensive. They have a cost-advantage over inline meters since there is no meter body. Insertion meters go into a hole drilled in the pipe wall. They are widely used in stack-gas and exhaust-flow monitoring. Here they compete with DP flowmeters using averaging Pitot tubes and with thermal flowmeters.

A close-up of a machine

Description automatically generated with low confidenceBackground of technology

Ultrasonic flowmeters have been gaining acceptance over the last decade as end-users come to understand and appreciate the technology -- although some are just now discovering the advantages and potential of ultrasonic flow measurement.

The ultrasonic flowmeter market is still a relatively new technology. Tokyo Keiki first introduced ultrasonic flowmeters to commercial markets in Japan in 1963. In 1972, Controlotron introduced the first clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter to the United States. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Doppler flowmeters began to be used. 

Because ultrasonic flowmeters were not well understood at first, they were often misapplied. As a result, many users got a bad impression of the meters during this time. It was not until the 1990s that ultrasonic flowmeters began to be widely used for industrial applications. 

The rapidly expanding market for gas flow measurement is one of the major reasons for strong projected growth in the ultrasonic flowmeter market. Energy, including energy conservation, and other markets have the potential to create even more demand, particularly as the technology improves to enable new applications. 


Ultrasonic flowmeters feature high accuracy, high reliability, high turndown ratios, long service life, low maintenance, relatively low cost, valuable diagnostics, no moving parts, and redundancy capabilities. Clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeters, in particular, can offer redundancy by providing an easy check of an inline meter. In addition to the traditional advantages, suppliers are significantly improving accuracy, sensitivity, and reliability. 

Ultrasonic flowmeters have a distinct advantage over other flowmeters:

  • Unlike Coriolis meters, ultrasonic flowmeters do very well in large pipe sizes. 

  • In large-size, natural gas pipeline applications, ultrasonic flowmeters have the advantage over turbine and differential pressure (DP) flowmeters of being highly accurate, non-intrusive, and highly reliable over time, with no moving parts to wear. They also have an advantage over DP flowmeters in that they are largely non-intrusive, with the exception of insertion types. 

  • Ultrasonic flowmeters have an advantage over magnetic flowmeters in that they can be used to measure the flow of nonconductive liquids, gases, and steam. 

  • Ultrasonic flowmeters have an advantage over vortex flowmeters in that they can meter low flows better than vortex meters. 

Further sweetening the pot is the fact that average ultrasonic prices are holding their own or even declining. In comparison, the average price for Coriolis flowmeters has had upward pressure due to introductions of large-line size models in the 12" - 16" diameter range.

A range of applications 

Ultrasonic flowmeters are used in upstream applications for allocation metering, for measuring gas and oil from test and production separators, for check metering, and for other applications. A major use of ultrasonic flowmeters is in the midstream segment for custody transfer of natural gas.  Multipath ultrasonic flowmeters achieve very high accuracy in measuring both liquids and gases.

A picture containing sky, outdoor, power shovel

Description automatically generatedProbably the single most important factor in the recent growth of ultrasonic flowmeters in the past 25 years has been the rapid growth in the market for multipath ultrasonic meters for custody transfer of natural gas. Multipath ultrasonic meters have three or more paths. The benefit of having multiple paths is that flow is measured at more points in the flowstream. This enhances the accuracy of the measurement. In 1998, the American Gas Association (AGA) approved the use of ultrasonic flowmeters for custody transfer applications. Since that time, suppliers have researched multipath meters and brought out new products. 

Ultrasonic flowmeters are also being more widely used to measure process gas and flare gas. Insertion meters are used to measure flare gas in stacks, and ultrasonic flowmeteA picture containing text, sky, nature, outdoor

Description automatically generatedrs are used more widely in the chemical and refining industries. 

In other areas, the increased use of battery power supplies opens up additional opportunities for ultrasonic flowmeters in the water and irrigation industries as well as other applications. Battery powered flowmeters offer low energy consumption independent of the main power grid and can help reduce prices on the worldwide market.

How they work

There are two main types of ultrasonic flowmeters: 

transit time ultrasonic flowmeters has both a sender and a receiver.  It sends two ultrasonic signals across a pipe at an angle: one with the flow, and one against the flow.  The meter then measures the “transit time” of each signal.  When the ultrasonic signal travels with the flow, it travels faster than when it travels against the flow.  The difference between the two transit times is proportional to flowrate.  

Transit time ultrasonic flowmeters are distinguished according to the number of “paths” they have. A path is simply the path or track of the ultrasonic pulse as it travels across the pipe and back again. Many ultrasonic flowmeters are single or dual path, meaning that they send either one or two signals across a pipe and back. Typically, there are two transducers for each path; one is a sender and one is a receiver.

Doppler flowmeters also send an ultrasonic signal across a pipe. Instead of tracking the time the signal takes to cross to the other side, a Doppler flowmeter relies on having the signal deflected by particles in the flowstream.  These particles are traveling at the same speed as the flow. As the signal passes through the stream, its frequency shifts in proportion to the mean velocity of the fluid. A receiver detects the reflected signal and measures its frequency. The meter calculates flow by comparing the generated and detected frequencies. Doppler ultrasonic flowmeters are used with dirty liquids or slurries.  They are not used to measure gas flow.  

Articles about Ultrasonic Flowmeters

Previous Studies:

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 6th Edition  

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 5th Edition  

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 4th Edition  

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 3rd Edition
Published 2008

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 2nd Edition (2003)
Provides historical perspective

The World Market for Ultrasonic Flowmeters, 1st Edition (2001)
Provides historical perspective

Flow Research, Inc. | 27 Water Street | Wakefield, MA 01880 | (781) 245-3200 | (781) 224-7552 (fax) | (800) 245-1799 (from the USA) | info@flowresearch.com

Hit Counter