ISO 15971:2008 concerns the measurement of calorific value of natural gas and natural gas substitutes by non‑separative methods, i.e. methods that do not involve the determination of the gas composition, nor calculations from it. ISO 15971:2008 describes the principles of operation of a variety of instruments in use for this purpose, and provides guidelines for the selection, evaluation, performance assessment, installation and operation of these.
Calorific values can be expressed on a mass basis, a molar basis or, more commonly, a volume basis. The working range for superior calorific value of natural gas, on the volume basis, is usually between 30 MJ/m3 and 45 MJ/m3 at standard reference conditions (see ISO 13443). The corresponding range for the Wobbe index is usually between 40 MJ/m3 and 60 MJ/m3.
ISO 15971:2008 neither endorses nor disputes the claims of any commercial manufacturer for the performance of an instrument. Its central thesis is that fitness-for-purpose in any particular application (defined in terms of a set of specific operational requirements) can be assessed only by means of a well-designed programme of experimental tests. Guidelines are provided for the proper content of these tests.