MEMS tackle HVAC/automatic-transmission markets
September 03, 2010 // R. Colin Johnson
MEMS startup Microstaq Inc. is pioneering promising new markets, using its micro-valve as a pilot to control the large flows necessary to tackle the lucrative heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) marketsóvalued at over $60 billion worldwide by market research firm The Freedonia Groupówith MEMS-control of automotive transmissions on the horizon.
MEMS microfluidic devices, such as the micro-pumps being designed by Debiotech S.A. (Lausanne, Switzerland) and the micro-valves being hawked by MultusMEMS AB (Uppsala, Sweden) can control micro-liters of fluid- and gas-flows, making them suitable for emerging applications such as medical labs-on-a-chip. Microstaq (Austin, Texas), on the other hand, uses its MEMS micro-valve technology to control conventional flow applications including HVAC and automatic transmissions on cars.
Microstaq previously announced a collaboration with Freescale Semiconductor Inc. on its intelligent refrigerant control system that employs Freescale's MEMS pressure sensors and microcontrollers—called Freescale's superheat control module—which now also works with Microstaq's novel MEMS silicon micro-valve.
The Microstaq's micro-valve is fabricated using the same silicon processing steps as an ordinary chip--layers of patterned silicon—but with micron-sized channels through which the fluid or gas flows. By using the precision MEMS valve as a pilot for controlling conventional valves, even high-flow applications can be micro-managed by MEMS, according to MicroStaq.
"Our micro-valve is fabricated from three layers of silicon, the central layer of which is a mechanical element that moves through electrically controlled thermal expansion to open and close a microfluidic port," said Nelson Fuller, vice president of research. "But we can couple that MEMS valve with a conventional spool valve—allowing a micro-valve measuring just 10-by-5-by-3 millimeters to control a conventional spool valve that can handle flows into the hundreds of liters a minute."
For the last two years, Microstaq has been advising potential customers that switching to its micro-valves can increase the efficiency of existing HVAC systems by as much as 25 percent, making the technology good for retrofits. Now Microstaq has started landing contracts to retrofit MEMS valves into commercial refrigeration systems, starting with grocery store chains.
Besides HVAC and refrigeration applications, Microstaq is also pioneering the use of MEMS micro-valves for transmissions in automotive applications. MEMS valves take up three times less space than the solenoid valves used today, enabling smaller, lighter, and less expensive automatic transmissions to be built, according to Microstaq, which is currently courting automobile transmission makers worldwide.
IoT Security Foundation formed
September 04, 2015
The Internet of Things Security Foundation has been formed with a large list of associate members having sprung out of discussions ...
Self-sweeping lasers could make LIDAR systems cheaper
DecaWave preps for expansion, next location chip.
These five trends drive automotive innovation
How to increase your engineering value in just 20 minutes a day
Google-led group preempts HEVC
September 03, 2015
Internet giants Google and Cisco have banded together with Amazon and Netflix, two large streaming service players, along ...
IT security is changing: if the SIEM is dead, what's next?
Serdes startup Credo raises $8 million
The future of print and paper: digital hybrids
- High Voltage CMOS Amplifier Enables High Impedance Sensing with a Single IC
- Software-Defined Radio Handbook
- Why Making the Move from a Variable Transformer to a VariPLUS is the Right Decision
- Automating Leakage and Functional Testing
InterviewCEO interview: Ambiq sees broader options for low voltage
Mike Noonen, recently appointed interim CEO at microcontroller startup Ambiq Micro, discusses the focus and opportunities for this pioneering company designing circuits that can operate below the threshold ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
This month, Altera is giving away three of its second-generation Nios II Embedded Evaluation Kit (NEEK), worth 9 each, for EETimes Europe's readers to win.
The feature-rich platform provides a fast and simple way for embedded designers to experience the capabilities of a custom embedded processor in a non-volatile FPGA.
MORE INFO AND LAST MONTH' WINNERS...
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.