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Precision Gas Flow Control is Key to R&D Instrumentation


Nov 11, 2011

If you’re a scientific researcher, few things are as important as your ability to accurately control experimental research variables. Data – more specifically, precise data – is king! When you need gas flow rate measurement and control instrumentation, the ability to derive statistically sound and repeatable data is the key driver.

Over the past several years, it’s been a privilege to develop a good working relationship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), which is just a short drive from our facilities here in Monterey, Calif. In the past, we’ve helped Jim Barry, Ph.D., a researcher and Benthic Ecologist, accurately simulate past, present, and future atmospheres and their effects on ocean chemistry.

In his early experiments, Dr. Barry wasted countless hours recalibrating his mass flow controllers to account for his ever changing flow rates to his experiments. In 2005, with the application expertise of our product manager, Dr. Barry and his team installed nine of Sierra’s digital Smart-Trak 2 Model C100 gas mass flow controllers to control mixtures of O2, N2 and CO2 to his aquarium tanks. The O2 levels varied from 1 – 20%, N2 from 80 – 99% and C02 levels from 180 to 1500 ppm, depending on the desired atmosphere or ocean condition Dr. Barry wanted to create.

Dr. Barry says “accuracy is essential” for these experiments. If his CO2 readings are off by just 0.1%, the acidity of his simulated oceanic environment will change drastically, requiring many hours of work to reset conditions and restart the experiment. Now Dr. Barry can rely on his gas control instrumentation to deliver the precise gas flow rate to his control his various atmospheres.

For Dr. Barry, data is king! All his findings and discoveries – basically, his life’s work – hinge on the accuracy of his data. He wants gas control equipment he can set and forget.

We look forward to years of invaluable research from MBARI. We have learned that Dr. Barry’s findings have led to more in-depth research on how acidification and rising levels of carbon dioxide may upset the ocean’s delicate geochemical balance, as well as ongoing study of greenhouse gases and ocean chemistry. These ramifications are just now being explored.

Benefits of Precise Gas Flow Control for Researchers


We recognize that gas flow control is only one small part of what you want to accomplish. In the end, you want to present sound research to colleagues and other influencers in your field of scientific study.

Thanks to researchers like Dr. Barry, who have told us what they need, our Smart Trak 2 can provide your with:


  • Stability and accuracy

  • User-friendly design

  • Ability to adjust for 10 different gases independently


Do you have a story about gas flow control instrumentation or equipment? Please share it with us in the comments below!

Erica Giannini, Marketing Manager
Written By:
Erica Giannini, Marketing Manager
Sierra Instruments

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