OMRON and STMicroelectronics have developed of a MEMS-based gas flow sensor with what they describe as an industry-unique built-in correction for differences in gas composition. OMRON will start sample shipments of the new sensor in November 2012.
As with electricity-consumption measuring, gas metering is moving from conventional mechanical solutions to smart electronic meters with automatic meter-reading functions. There are over 400 million mechanical gas meters in the world and most leading gas providers are looking to replace traditional meters with more accurate and reliable electronic devices.
In addition to higher precision and reliability, the OMRON/ST sensor solution enables the development of smart gas meters that are much smaller, less expensive, and more power-efficient than the conventional equipment, resulting in substantial cost savings for the utility companies and end users alike. Industry analysts expect the global smart gas meter market to exceed 10 million units a year by 2015.
The new gas-flow sensor combines OMRON’s MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) thermal flow transducer with ST’s high-performance analogue front-end IC, delivering high-precision gas flow-rate measurement with reproducibility. Gas meters built around the OMRON/ST solution do not need to be configured for a certain type of gas at the time of shipment or installation, as they are intrinsically compensated for both temperature and pressure variations and a built-in circuit compensates for the variation of multiple gas composition. The sensor is dust-resistant 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.