OMRON and STMicroelectronics have developed a new sensor to correct gas composition problems in smart meters.
The firms, an automation technology and semiconductor company respectively, have completed a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) based gas flow sensor that includes a built-in correction device which checks gas composition -- and compensates for any problems.
The MEMS system, designed by Toyko-based firm OMRON, has been integrated into a thermal flow transducer which was then combined with an analog front-end IC developed by ST. The gas-flow rate measurement produced by the sensor compensates for differences in temperature and gas pressure, which means meters using the technology do not need to be equipped for specific types of gas.
The new sensor component can be used to make smart gas meters smaller, more power-efficient and less expensive -- resulting in savings for utility companies and the consumer. In addition, it is dust-resistant in order to comply with international gas-meter standards.
"The successful collaboration with OMRON in gas metering expands ST's foothold in the increasingly important field of 'intelligent measurement' and sets us to replicate the great success we have achieved in smart electricity metering," said Marco Cassis, Executive Vice President and President, Japan and Korea Region, STMicroelectronics.
Sample shipments of the new sensor are going to be shipped next month.
There are currently over 400 million mechanical gas meters installed across the world, and many utility companies are making the transition to more intelligent devices. Analysts in the industry expect the global smart gas meter market to exceed 10 million units a year by 2015.
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