Without chemistry’s contributions, the world would lack colour; we would live in Stone Age conditions, underfed, dressed in skins, without the many devices that ease our lives and entertain us; and our lives would be short and painful.Peter Atkins, English Chemist and a Fellow of Lincoln College at the University of Oxford
Engineered Polymer Housings
What is ‘engineered polymer’ and why is it important in the Canadian water meter industry?
‘Engineered polymer’ refers to a class of materials that are specifically designed and formulated to possess certain desired properties and characteristics. These polymers are developed through a combination of chemical engineering, material science, and polymer chemistry to achieve specific performance requirements.
The importance of engineered polymers lies in their ability to provide tailored solutions to meet specific performance requirements across a wide range of industries. By leveraging their unique properties, engineers and manufacturers can create products that are lightweight, durable, chemically resistant, electrically insulating, and cost-effective.
Engineered polymer water meters can offer comparable strength to stainless steel or bronze water meters, depending on the specific design, construction, and intended application. However, it’s important to note that the choice of material for water meters depends on various factors, including the specific requirements of the application and industry standards.
Engineered polymers can exhibit high strength-to-weight ratios, meaning they can provide significant strength while being lightweight. This can be advantageous in applications where weight reduction is important, such as when a meter is installed in a difficult to reach location, or when a larger meter, that would be too heavy when made from metal, needs to be installed by a single technician.
Engineered polymers can be engineered to have long-term durability, maintaining their mechanical properties and performance over time. They can resist wear, abrasion, and degradation caused by prolonged exposure to water, chemicals, or UV radiation.
Water Meters in Canada
An engineered polymer housing offers several advantages for water meters in Canada:
- Corrosion Resistance: Canada’s diverse climate and varying water conditions can expose water meters to corrosive elements. An engineered polymer housing, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or reinforced polymer composite, provides excellent corrosion resistance. It can withstand exposure to chemicals, moisture, and harsh environmental conditions, ensuring the longevity and durability of the water meter.
- Freeze-Thaw Resistance: In many parts of Canada, freezing temperatures are a common occurrence. Water meters installed in outdoor environments must be able to withstand freeze-thaw cycles without damage. Engineered polymer housings have low thermal conductivity, reducing the risk of freezing and cracking in extreme temperatures. They can also accommodate expansion and contraction, minimizing the potential for water leaks and meter inaccuracies.
- Lightweight and Easy Installation: Engineered polymer housings are lightweight compared to traditional materials like metal. This makes them easier to handle and install, reducing labour and transportation costs. The lighter weight also puts less stress on the meter infrastructure, such as pipes and fittings, potentially extending their lifespan.
- Chemical Resistance: Water meters may come into contact with various chemicals, such as disinfectants or cleaning agents, in the water supply system. An engineered polymer housing is resistant to chemical degradation, minimizing the risk of material deterioration or performance loss due to chemical exposure.
- Electrical Insulation: Engineered polymers are excellent electrical insulators. This property is crucial for water meters, as it helps prevent electrical conductivity or interference between different components of the metering system. It reduces the risk of electrical faults and ensures accurate measurement and data integrity.
- Cost-Effective: Engineered polymer housings often offer a cost-effective solution compared to traditional materials like brass or stainless steel. The production process for polymer housings can be more efficient and less expensive. Additionally, their corrosion resistance and durability contribute to longer service life and reduced maintenance costs over time.
It is important to note that the selection of materials for water meter housings should consider the specific requirements of the application and comply with relevant industry standards and regulations. The choice of an engineered polymer housing should be based on its suitability for the intended environment, expected lifespan, and performance requirements of the water meter in Canada.
About the Author:
Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 40 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was a senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin served on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has completed over 30 next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, Indigenous Canada awareness, and more.