Omron and STMicroelectronics Enable Smarter Gas Metering

The two companies announced that they have collaborated to provide a complete solution for electronic gas meter flow sensors.

GENEVA & KYOTO -- STMicroelectronics, a supplier of IC solutions for metering applications, and Omron, a leader in automation technology, announced that the two companies have collaborated to provide a complete solution for electronic gas meter flow sensors. The flow sensor they have developed is a key component for the smart turn-key gas meter solution that ST is developing.

Gas metering is beginning to move from traditional mechanical meters to sophisticated new electronic solutions, incorporating functions such as Automatic Meter Reading (AMR). ST estimates that there are some 500 million mechanical gas meters in the world and most major gas providers are preparing programs to replace their traditional meters with more accurate, reliable, and efficient electronic meters.

At the heart of the collaboration is a proprietary Omron transducer and a companion analog front-end chip developed by ST. These valuable technologies have been integrated into a complete stand-alone subsystem. The resulting flow sensor, which incorporates leading-edge MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) micro-thermal sensor technology, is intrinsically compensated for both temperature and pressure variations, while a built-in circuit compensates for the variation of multiple gas composition. The sensor is dust-resistant to comply with international gas-meter standards.

Mounted on a small PCB (Printed-Circuit-Board) measuring 7.2x8.6 cm, the gas-flow sensor provides high accuracy with very low power consumption, built-in motor drivers for valve control, and protection against temperature and vibration effects. The sensor board includes an ultra-low power STM8L152 microcontroller with 32 Kbytes of flash memory and an LCD display driver, the STLM20 temperature sensor, the LIS332AR accelerometer and the M41T82 real-time clock, as well as power-management and motor-control devices.

“As demand for smarter gas metering starts to take off, this collaboration with Omron puts us ahead of the field and will enable us to repeat the enormous success we have achieved in smart electricity meters,” said Benedetto Vigna, General Manager of the MEMS, Sensors and High-Performance Analog Division of STMicroelectronics, noting that the meter kit will greatly reduce purchasing costs and accelerate time-to-market for meter manufacturers.

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