Viscometer Principle

Oscillating piston viscometer

Sometimes referred to as electromagnetic viscometer or EMV viscometer, was invented at Cambridge Viscosity (Formally Cambridge Applied Systems) in 1986. The sensor (see figure below) comprises a measurement chamber and magnetically influenced piston. Measurements are taken whereby a sample is first introduced into the thermally controlled measurement chamber where the piston resides. Electronics drive the piston into oscillatory motion within the measurement chamber with a controlled magnetic field.

A shear stress is imposed on the liquid (or gas) due to the piston travel and the viscosity is determined by measuring the travel time of the piston. The construction parameters for the annular spacing between the piston and measurement chamber, the strength of the electromagnetic field, and the travel distance of the piston are used to calculate the viscosity according to Newton’s Law of Viscosity.

The oscillating piston viscometer technology has been adapted for small sample viscosity and micro-sample viscosity testing in laboratory applications. It has also been adapted to measure high pressure viscosity and high temperature viscosity measurements in both laboratory and process environments. The viscosity sensors have been scaled for a wide range of industrial applications such as small size viscometers for use in compressors and engines, flow-through viscometers for dip coating processes, in-line viscometers for use in refineries, and hundreds of other applications. Improvements in sensitivity from modern electronics, is stimulating a growth in oscillating piston viscometer popularity with academic laboratories exploring gas viscosity.