Litre Meter has started the third and final year of its research programme with Cambridge University's Department of Engineering.
The research is being undertaken to develop technology for positive displacement flow meters capable of measuring flow rates below 0.003 litres per hour.
Litre Meter's VFF positive displacement flow meter is already capable of measuring down to 0.03 litres per hour at viscosities of 2cSt.
The objective of the research is to understand the detailed behaviour of the instrument to increase its dynamic operation even further.
Charles Wemyss, chairman of Litre Meter, said: 'We regularly receive requests from across industry to measure increasingly lower flow rates.
'In the offshore industry, for example, many oil wells are now less productive.
'Oil is being extracted at a much slower rate and consequently smaller quantities of chemical additives are needed during refining.
'These need to be measured accurately at low flow rates.
'Similarly, across other industries there is a drive to increase the concentration of many chemical substances so companies can transport less cargo and reduce their costs.
'This higher chemical concentration means that less is needed to do a job.
'The knock on effect is the need to measure much smaller amounts.
'These trends we believe will continue, which is why we have embarked on this research programme.' The research programme was commissioned in 2006/2007 as part of an Industrial Case Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The three-and-a-half-year study is seeking to understand more about the underlying physics behind the rotary piston flow meter and how it behaves in low flow applications.
Charlotte Morton, a PhD student at Cambridge University, is undertaking the research.
It has involved creating a software model of the flow meter's behaviour that has been verified through experiments.
Factors such as weight of internal components, materials used and surface finish, can all have an effect on a flow meter's ability to operate in low flow conditions.
The research will seek to understand the best combination of these.
Explaining the research methodology Morton said: 'My brief has been to develop a theoretical model of how a flow meter performs.
'Parameters have been set experimentally and used to validate the theoretical model.
'These included pressure losses, differences in viscosity, flow rate and so on.
'Once these parameters were established experimentally we were able to work out the flow rate, speed and the forces acting on the rotor.
'Using Newtonian physics and the laws of motion, a model can be used to predict the changes that have been found experimentally in flow meters working in the field.' The research programme is overseen by Dr Roger Baker, visiting industrial fellow at Cambridge University.
Dr Baker said: 'The object of the research is to develop a predictive design tool for rotary flow meters.
'The modelling requires the calculation of the forces consequent on the meter.
'From those calculations, the pressure acting on the meter is obtained and from that, leakage flow is found.
'These findings are then validated by the laboratory data taken from standard meters.
'This is clarified from Charlotte's research, which takes into account other factors working on the meter including surface friction and lubrication.
'Rotation and tipping of the rotor are also examined in detail.' Charlotte Morton has been working on different sizes of Litre Meter VFF flow meter.
Until now she has been working on larger meters but has just been given a smaller LF15 meter to work with.