The pitot tube, illustrated in Figure 5, is another primary flow element used to produce a differential pressure for flow detection. In its simplest form, it consists of a tube with an opening at the end. The small hole in the end is positioned such that it faces the flowing fluid. The velocity of the fluid at the opening of the tube decreases to zero. This provides for the high pressure input to a differential pressure detector. A pressure tap provides the low pressure input.
The pitot tube actually measures fluid velocity instead of fluid flow rate. However, volumetric flow rate can be obtained using Equation 4-4.
Pitot tubes must be calibrated for each specific application, as there is no standardization. This type of instrument can be used even when the fluid is not enclosed in a pipe or duct.