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) markets—valued at over $60 billion worldwide by market research firm The Freedonia Group—with 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.
Intel, Micron launch "bulk-switching" ReRAM
July 28, 2015
Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. have launched a new class of non-volatile memory that they have called 3D Xpoint and ...
Demand for radar systems boosts Infineon’s chip production
'Test city' opens for autonomous cars
AMS buys environmental sensor business from NXP
World first: Samsung monitor integrates inbuilt wireless charging
Breakthrough for really cost-efficient fuel cells in sight?
July 27, 2015
Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a manufacturing technique for platinum nanocages that can ...
Pelican makes lay-offs, refocuses on depth sensing
SK Hynix starts 3D NAND flash production
Analog design and the age of digital correction
- Test environment for the positioning elements of wearable devices
- Automotive Circuit Protection using Littelfuse Automotive TVS Diodes
- Top 5 Challenges for testing Today's Consumer Electronics
- Critical Requirements in High Speed Signal Generation Applications
InterviewGlobalfoundries' CEO on why FD-SOI and why now
With its latest news Globalfoundries Inc. has not only confirmed itself as a supporter of the fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) approach to IC manufacturing but that it also thinks sufficiently ...
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, Novelda is giving away two full XeThru Inspiration kits worth 1499 US Dollars each, for EETimes Europe's readers to experiment first hand with its XeThru technology.Based on the use of radio waves, rather than infrared, ultrasound or light, the company's X2M1000 Inspiration modules can detect presence just from the chest movement while breathing, and measure both the rate and... 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.