What is a Micromanometer?

Kirsten C. Tynan

Manometers are tools used to measure the pressure of a gas or a liquid. A micromanometer is a special type of manometer designed to measure extremely small differences in pressure. While their primary function is to measure pressure, micromanometers may also be designed to provide other related information. Such data may either be measured directly with the same tool or calculated by the device based on other measurements it is used to make.

Manometers and micromanometers have a variety of cardiovascular applications in the medical field.
Manometers and micromanometers have a variety of cardiovascular applications in the medical field.

There are a variety of types of micromanometers, with the digital micromanometer being the most common kind. Digital micromanometers use piezoelectric crystals or other sensors to detect pressure changes. When such changes are detected, they respond with electrical signals proportionate to the pressure changes. These electrical signals are then used to calculate pressure values.

In addition to pressure measurement capability, a micromanometer may be designed to serve other purposes as well. It may have the ability to log data either manually or automatically as measurements are taken. Stored data can later be downloaded to a computer for analysis. Some micromanometers may also be used with a pitot tube to measure the velocity and to calculate the volumetric flow rate of the fluid. Others are designed for temperature and humidity measurement as well.

One field in which micromanometers are commonly used is Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). A micromanometer may be used in HVAC design work to properly balance ventilation and occupant loads or to optimize performance of equipment and maximize service life. It may also be used in troubleshooting and testing, such as for duct leakage testing or in checking the condition of a filter. Safety assurance and risk mitigation activities may also necessitate the use of a micromanometer in such applications as radon mitigation or combustion safety analysis.

Clean room certification, in particular, may require the use of a micromanometer due to the very strict parameters that must be verified. A clean room is a closed environment that conforms to exacting specifications for temperature, relative humidity, extremely low particulate levels, and other environmental conditions. Tight controls on pressure differentials may necessitate the use of a micromanometer to monitor pressure due to its ability to measure very small pressure differences.

Another use for micromanometers is in healthcare or medical research, especially in cardiovascular applications. A number of cardiovascular disorders are related to systemic dysfunction of blood pressure or blood flow. With the aid of a catheter, a micromanometer may be inserted into blood vessels or the heart to measure blood pressure and flow at various locations. It may be used in developing a diagnosis for a patient or in gathering data for cardiovascular research.

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