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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Advances in the Japanese Gas Meter Market

The Japanese gas sector is evenly split between piped natural gas and LPG. The LPG is delivered from dealers to consumers by tanker or in cylinders. Both are metered with intelligent domestic microcomputer-controlled diaphragm gas Micom meters, which have safety warning devices on them.

Gas utilities in Japan introduced Micom meters in 1983 in order to reduce potential fire accidents. Micom meters have a safety function that interrupts gas supply automatically in an emergency such as an earthquake, as well as a metering function. Installation of Micom meters has reached almost 100%, now that gas utilities are obliged by law to take responsibility for safety functions. The number of gas accidents has been dramatically reduced with the widespread use of Micom meters.

Increasing numbers of Micom meters for both piped gas and LPG have AMR capability, in the latter case this enables the dealer to refill the storage tank with LPG or to deliver new cylinders.
LPG is delivered to large consumers by pipeline.

There are major developments in residential metering in Japan as a new residential ultrasonic gas meter designed by a Tokyo Gas led consortium, together with Osaka Gas and Toho Gas comes to market this year. The meter is being manufactured by Yazaki Corporation, Toyo Gas Meter Co. and Aichi Tokei Denki Co. Ltd, and two electronics manufacturers, Matsushita Electric Industrial and the Toshiba Corporation. The ultrasonic gas meter is an electronic gas metering device designed for domestic use. The measuring principle is the same as that of a standard ultrasonic meter and the structure is very simple, having no moving mechanical parts. The meter has increased functionality, including AMR and added value-services to the consumer.

Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., started a pilot level introduction of the ultrasonic gas meter and its commercial application in July 2005 and the new meter will come into use in 2008. The new meter has almost identical performance for both natural gas and LPG.

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