Global Water Meter Trends
With increasing concerns over the availability of water around the world, effective water handling systems that are safe for contact with drinking water are becoming increasingly important. Different markets and consumers prioritize different water meters depending on their needs, and specialty polymers are becoming increasingly necessary as consumers’ needs around the world continue to evolve.
Asian countries, including China, India and Japan, are investing in smart water meters as the region increasingly experiences foreign investments, depends on applications in end-use environments and prioritizes technological advancements. Other regions, such as the Middle East and Africa, are increasing their demand for smart water meters in an attempt to combat water scarcity issues and monitor water quality. Accordingly, water meter manufacturers must stay up to date on changing global trends and develop long-lasting water meters with the highest performing materials that meet the requirements of an evolving consumer base. Solvay offers a portfolio of specialty polymers for water meters that is designed for outstanding performance in a range of water management systems.
The Future of Smart Water Meters
Although traditional water meters have met consumer requirements in the past, smart water meters hold an increasing share of the industrial and residential markets across the world. As conventional metallic water meters become a relic of the past, water meter manufacturers must search for materials that enable seamless production, high durability, and outstanding stability to promote the advancement of water management technology. Smart water meters provide a unique challenge to OEMs, as the materials used in this application are essential in creating a long-lasting, lightweight system that protects the integrity of the Electronic Computing Unit (ECU) while promoting cost-efficient manufacturing. Unlike traditional meters, smart water meters require the use of more sophisticated materials than conventionally used brass or copper. Instead, today’s smart water meters require innovative polymers engineered to exhibit superior resistance properties and ensure safe contact with drinking water.
Mechanical Water Meters Versus Smart Water Meters
Both mechanical water meters and smart water meters monitor and track water usage at residential and industrial levels. Their functionality, however, is where most similarities end. While mechanical water meters have been traditionally created with metals like brass or copper and rely on physical parts to measure the flow of water, smart water meters are increasingly designed with high-performing polymers and advanced technology that provide a more accurate reading of water usage. This improvement in accuracy is a benefit to both municipalities and residential consumers, as municipalities can detect leaks more quickly, and consumers can more easily track and reduce their water consumption and ensure they are billed accordingly. Studies suggest that the increase in residential smart water usage may mitigate water consumption by up to 35%.
Plastic Components to Replace Metal in Water Meters
This advanced technology drives the need for innovative materials that give manufacturers the ability to reduce costs, enhance the resistance of smart water meter components and extend the product lifespan. Conventional metals add unnecessary weight and a risk of corrosion to water meters, whereas high-performance plastics for water meter components are lighter weight, more resistant to oxidative aging, and easier and faster to process with injection molding and fewer finishing phases. Additionally, specialty polymers exhibit greater strength at higher temperatures, offer better resistance to corrosion and eliminate the risk of heavy metal contamination in tap water. Manufacturers or both traditional mechanical water meters and smart water meters are increasingly turning to high-performance plastics to solve this application’s toughest challenges.
Solvay’s portfolio of specialty polymers for water meters is designed to fulfill all market and manufacturer needs through one supplier. OEMs needing to bridge the cost/performance gap between PA66 and higher performing polyphthalamides in cold water applications can rely on Solvay’s Omnix® HPPA. This high-performance polyamide exhibits excellent dimensional stability, chemical resistance and promotes cost-efficient manufacturing. For cold and hot water applications, Amodel® PPA offers high oxidative stability, superior resistance to creep and fatigue, and impressive thermal resistance for long-term performance. For hot water applications over 75°C, OEMs turn to Solvay’s injection-moldable polymer, Ryton® PPS. This polyphenylene sulfide can withstand prolonged exposure to hot, chlorinated water while maintaining exceptional thermal stability, chemical resistance and dimensional stability. Additionally, each of these products is internationally approved for contact with drinking water, so manufacturers can expedite their approval process and continue to meet the demands of this competitive market.