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Ultrasonic smart gas meters land in SA

Home Engineering Electrical Ultrasonic smart gas meters land in SA

ENERGAS Technologies, a supplier of specialised equipment to the oil and gas industries in sub-Saharan Africa, is now offering a range of gas meters from Mesura Metering, a Cavagna Group company from Italy.

DeWet Ras, Technical & Safety at Energas, said the PRODIGI ultrasonic smart meters became available for largescale distribution from 1 August 2020 following the signing of a distribution agreement in May.

In the lead-up to this date, he said, the meters underwent an update to include new features that will improve their operability, data management and maintainability and to ensure that they keep up with current technology advancements.

The new smart meters are mainly targeted at largescale housing developments such as complexes, apartments and estates, as well as business parks and shopping centres.

“Although electricity is the most widely available energy source for household appliances, it is rapidly becoming more expensive and unreliable,” Ras said.

“Many property developers are looking at supplying low-cost alternative energy sources such as natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to operate household appliances. This is where the top of the range Mesura PRODIGI ultrasonic smart gas meter comes into play.”

The ultrasonic smart gas meter is used to measure the volume of natural gas and LPG used by customers. This data is then used for billing purposes. Viewed in the same context as a prepaid electricity meter, the Mesura gas meter measures natural gas or LPG.

The newly updated smart meter range comes in three models – the G1.6, G2.5 and G4. Using an ultrasonic sensor, all the three models in the range can operate with either natural gas or LPG. The range has a maximum working pressure of 50 kPa within a measurement range of 0,016 – 6 m³/h at a working temperature of between -25°C and 55°C.

Commenting on the key features and benefits of the range, Ras said current installations in South Africa use diaphragm meters (a positive displacement instrument) which are used to measure the volume of gas passing through them. Although this is a proven method to measure gas, these units are becoming more and more outdated in comparison to ‘smart’ meters.

“A diaphragm meter has a mechanical counter attached to the meter and as the gas (known volume) passes through the meter the counter turns relative to the volume of gas used. Most gas suppliers/distributors need to physically go to each site and take the gas readings manually. There are add-on units that allow for remote measuring; however, the technology is outdated,” he said.

What makes the Mesura PRODIGI ultrasonic smart gas meter a cut above the rest, said Ras, is that it uses ultrasonic technology as a measurement principle. Ultrasonic pulses are transmitted through the tube of the meter in which the gas flows, both in the direction of the gas flow and in the opposite direction, thus determining the difference in the transit time of the ultrasound signal in the two directions.

“This difference constitutes an indirect measure of the gas flow rate, regardless of the thermodynamic state of the fluid that passes through the meter. For me this is exciting because up until now, ultrasonic flow meters were mainly used in the industrial, manufacturing and largescale gas distribution sectors. This ultrasonic static measurement principle adopted in the Mesura meter ensures that today’s gas providers can deliver a reliable, efficient and quality product at the best possible cost to accurately measure and manage their resources.”

The other main feature of the Mesura gas meter range is that it is ‘smart’. The GSM/NBIoT communication module installed inside the Mesura meter ensures all data captured by the meter can be transmitted remotely via GSM network infrastructure to the gas providers. The communication module also has the capability to send data from electronic devices to suppliers and customers through the internet of things (IoT) cloud solutions.

Another important feature of the new meter, adds Ras, is that it can measure very low flow rates. Diaphragm meters cannot do this as accurately.

Another benefit is the automatic gas shut-off valve installed inside the Mesura meter, which allows the gas provider to remotely open or close the flow of gas through the gas meter.

Meanwhile, the range comes with metrological and transmission lithium-ion batteries. The metrological battery can last up to 15 years at standard conditions. The transmission battery can last up to seven years at standard conditions, depending on the communication protocol used.

Mesura, in collaboration with the Cavagna Group, can offer customers with a cloud-based platform accessed remotely to monitor, maintain and perform diagnostic tests and error reporting of the smart meters.

“A wide range of communication technologies and protocols, for example, GSM, NB-IoT, LoRa Alliance Network (allows for remote monitoring of meters installed in densely populated areas), LoRaWAN protocol and LPWAN, are also available,” Ras said.

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