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Sophisticated science makes meters last longer

Brunel expertise in nano materials and nanotechnology is now helping the humble water meter become cheaper to produce and longer lasting.

Professor Karnik Tarverdi has been working with global meter manufacturer Elster since 2003 and to date more than 30 million meters have been produced incorporating Brunel-led technological improvements.

The most significant was to help Elster switch from brass components, which were attractive to thieves because of their high scrap value, to using sophisticated plastics. A key challenge was to make the plastic parts as long-lasting as the metal ones they were to replace.

Prof Tarverdi and his team faced a number of issues from identifying the right polymer which would resist corrosion from chemicals in water to ensuring the resulting plastic “recipe” had the right ingredients, in the right proportions spread evenly through the mix.

The solution was to use nano-carbon black together with pigments and antioxidants and mix them together using ultrasound to achieve maximum dispersion.

Elster says the successful introduction of this technology has helped them “maintain a strongly competitive position from our UK manufacturing base based on lower costs, reduced embodied CO2 and reduced theft risk”.