ST and Omron team on MEMS gas flow sensor technology

October 08, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
OMRON and STMicroelectronics have teamed up to develop a MEMS-based gas flow sensor with a unique built-in correction for differences in gas composition.

Although ST is a leading MEMS sensor supplier, the new gas-flow sensor combines OMRON’s MEMS thermal flow transducer with ST’s analog front-end IC. Gas meters built around the technology 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.
There are over 400 million mechanical gas meters in the world and most major gas providers are readying to replace their traditional meters with more accurate and reliable electronic devices. In addition to higher precision and reliability, the sensor 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 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 for Japan and Korea at STMicroelectronics.
"We are very much excited to introduce a new powerful one-stop solution that enables a simple and very accurate Smart Gas Meter System for global markets through the successful collaboration with STMicroelectronics. By enabling IT-based smart metering, this new technology will significantly contribute to energy saving," said Yoshio Sekiguchi, Senior General Manager of the Micro Devices Division of OMRON.
The I 2C sensors support gas flow up to12m 3/h with an accuracy of 1.5%RD (1 to 10m 3/h) and a power consumption of 0.051mA/h.
OMRON will start sample shipments of the new sensor in November 2012.