Sierra Instruments flow meters control aquarium at Monterey Bay Research | Automation.com

Sierra Instruments flow meters control aquarium at Monterey Bay Research

Sierra Instruments flow meters control aquarium at Monterey Bay Research
September 28, 2009 – Since 2005, Dr. Barry and his team at the Monterey Bay Research Institute (MBARI) have depended upon Sierra mass flow controllers to help conduct experiments to discover how rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are affecting the enormous variety of marine animals in our seas.

The Monterey Bay Research Institute (MBARI) sits on one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. But beneath this beauty, the Monterey Bay and our oceans are changing rapidly due to the influx of CO2 in our atmosphere. According to Dr. Barry, a Benthic Biologist and Senior Scientist at MBARI, about 1/3 of human CO2 gas emissions in our atmosphere are absorbed by the ocean, making the ocean 30% more acidic than just 100 years ago. “Ocean Acidification” is the new term that has been coined to describe this process.

Early in his experiments, Dr. Barry was frustrated with the performance of the mass flow controllers that controlled gas inputs to his aquarium tanks. Barry remembers that he would waste precious research time recalibrating these instruments almost every day and laboriously changing flow rates.

In 2005, Dr. Barry was ready to make a change. After lengthy research and discussions with Sierra Instruments, he chose the Smart-Trak Model 100 with its Pilot Module gas feature. Dr. Barry and his team installed 9 Smart-Trak Model 100s to control mixtures of O2, N2 and CO2 to his aquarium tanks.

Conditions in the tanks are varied to simulate past, present, and future ocean conditions. The O2 levels vary from 1% to 20%, N2 from 80% to 99% and C02 levels from 180 to 1500 ppm, depending on the desired atmosphere or ocean condition Dr. Barry wants to create. In these environments he measures the development, growth, and physiological responses of the marine animals to CO2 stress.

Biologist Values the Ease-of-Use of the Pilot Module

With a stroke of a button on the Pilot Module, Dr. Barry can change his CO2 flow rates instantly and remotely, creating many varieties of oceanic atmospheres with the same set of conditions—same water, temperature, and animals. He simply plugs his Pilot Module into any one of his 9 Model 100s, makes a change in the gas flow rate, thus creating another atmosphere. When he unplugs it, his gas flow will not deviate. If he wants to change his atmosphere again by entering different flow rates, it takes only seconds¬—a big relief from his former days of tediously changing flow rates.

“With Smart-Trak, it’s very easy,” says Barry. And this is what scientists value, more time to concentrate on their work, rather than fiddling with instruments.

Dr. Barry's Experiments Demand Accuracy

Dr. Barry states that, “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, disrupting the experiment, requiring many hours of work to reset conditions and restart the experiment. With its patented Laminar Flow Element and fast acting solenoid valve, Dr. Barry has found that the Smart-Trak is one of the most stable and accurate flow instruments to be found.

Sierra is proud to be able to work with MBARI and others who are playing an ongoing role in research aimed at putting an end to the deterioration of our planet and creating a more sustainable future.

About Sierra
A trusted global leader in the development of flow meters and controllers for over 35 years, Sierra Instruments manufacturers high performance mass flow meters and controllers for nearly any gas, liquid, or steam application. With over 150 offices in 50 countries, Sierra is positioned to provide their innovative products and support to a wide variety of industries.

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