BEST SHOW YET!
The 2016 edition of Meteorological Technology World Expo sees more visitors and more new products than ever before!
“Incredible! That’s the only word I can think of to accurately describe the 2016 show,” said Graham Johnson, managing director of UKIP Media & Events, which organises Meteorological Technology World Expo, which was held in Madrid, Spain, 27-29 September.
“It’s just been so busy,” continued Johnson. “Yes, it was the biggest show yet – we attracted over 180 exhibitors – but no one expected so many visitors and so many new product launches! We had more visitors on the first day than we’ve ever had across the show’s usual three days! Across all three days, almost 4,000 meteorological professionals walked through the show doors. It was an absolute record-breaker. I’m so excited to see what we’ll achieve at the 2017 Amsterdam-based show!”
With so many brand-new products on display in 2016, it’s little wonder the event, which hosted the WMO’s TECO conference, attracted so many meteorologists and people who need better weather prediction technologies. The focus from vendors this year was firmly placed on developing products with greater affordability and less maintenance for their customers. For example, QinetiQ North America (QNA) presented an exciting iQ radiosonde addition to its TASK Tactical Atmospheric Sounding Kit – the smallest radiosonde self-contained kit on the market, with a radiosonde weighing just 38g. The iQ3 is compatible with the TASK system and meets all international standards for accuracies and resolutions up to 2mbars.
QNA also presented its Wind Profiling Portable Radar (WiPPR), which it claims is the world’s smallest, portable wind profiler for military, commercial and research needs, weighing just 125 lb, with less than 125W continuous power drain for various mission sets. WiPPR provides all-weather, vertical wind profiling with 3m-range gates up to 5,200m. “Lots of users are interested in utilising this profiler,” reported Ian Arroyo, business development manager at QNA. “For the first time you can have a true vertical wind profiler in very tactical situations – you can put it on the back of a small vehicle, such as an ATV, and pull it around and capture wind profiles, using only 125W of power, without the need for a generator.”
QNA’s Arroyo said that the profiler is particularly attractive to military users, as it provides live, continuous wind speed and wind direction data in all three axes. “You can base military air drops on a forecast, but that data may be eight hours old. You can use a drop sonde, but tactically that will require the aircraft to come back round in a circle, which gives away what you are doing. So there is a need for a single drop solution. We have also been approached by the tornado community, who are interested in its high-resolution data capability.”
Arroyo was pleased to report strong interest from visitors right from the first morning of the show: “We’ve had the Spanish Meteorology Office on the stand, the Agricultural Office from Italy, and we’ve talked to a couple of our US customers that have come by. We’ve also had some of the met community talk to us about some specific R&D projects – it’s been a good show for us so far.”
Hukseflux Thermal Sensors reported similar enthusiasm for its new, all-digital, secondary standard SR30 range of pyranometers. “Our engineers have succeeded in giving SR30 the right characteristics to attain the highest measurement accuracy and data availability while having a small footprint,” explained Eric Hoeksema, director of Hukseflux. “The SR30 pyranometer dome is heated by ventilating the area between the inner and outer dome. This way of heating is much more efficient than traditional external ventilation, where most of the heat is carried away with the ventilation air. Internal ventilation is as effective against dew and frost at 2.1W as external ventilation at 10W. Internal ventilation also leads to a reduction of zero offsets. The biggest problem of externally ventilated instruments is filter clogging – in contrast, SR30 does not need filter cleaning and requires low maintenance.”
The company’s sensors are used by the industry’s major system integrators, all of whom Hoeksema was pleased to note were in attendance at this year’s show: “Everybody is here,” he said. “All our customers are here, and it’s a good show for meeting up with them and presenting our latest sensor.”
Another exciting new product was presented by Plair, which debuted its latest PA-300 real-time aerosol detection and analysis system at the show. Featuring a new, real-time airborne particle identifier, called Rapid-E, Plair’s second-generation PA-300 particle analyser enables more accurate and comprehensive environmental monitoring. “Rapid-E reliably detects and counts numerous airborne particles simultaneously and rapidly – pollen, fungal spores and air pollution, and even bacteria,” explained Svetlana Afonina, chief marketing officer and co-founder at Plair. “Rapid-E has high sensitivity to particles as small as 0.5μm, while maintaining great performance for particles of up to 100μm.”
The particle analyser’s superior performance was recently confirmed by the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) during its development and validation of an optical pollen monitoring method. The PA-300 was able to detect and distinguish dozens of common pollen species instantaneously and autonomously with 99% precision, providing continuous online measurements 24 hours per day, all season round.
“This is the world’s first real-time airborne particle identifier, dedicated to the automatic counting of airborne particles,” continued Afonina. “Currently all meteorological services use manual analysis for pollen detection. As a result, there is normally one week of delay in data reporting. Rapid-E provides automatic and real-time identification so that met offices and environmental services can provide much better prediction without any time lag – with a forecasting up to six to 12 hours, which is very important for allergy and asthma sufferers. At the same time, it is not only able to count air pollutants, it can also identify them, distinguishing between PM2.5, PM10 and certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, providing both qualitative and quantitative information.”
NTT Advanced Technology Corporation reported strong interest in its Hydrophobic Water Repellent Coating Series (HIREC), a super-hydrophobic water-repellent coating material (similar to paint) developed to protect in-field equipment from snow, ice and rain interference. The coating creates a contact angle of 150° between the surface and the water droplet, causing water to roll off the surface instead of sticking to it, eliminating the problems associated with rain, snow and ice attenuation.
HIREC has already been chosen by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) to protect its new X-Rain smart and advanced weather measuring system, which has seen more than 35 X-band radars deployed throughout Japan to provide timely weather information, as well as to aid urban planning and river management use.
“During the development of X-Rain, MLIT identified that one of the main challenges of the system was water film attenuation on the X-band radars,” explained Shinichi Iwano, executive manager, NTT. “Water films formed on the radar surface, greatly reducing the measurement signal. To solve this problem, MLIT has chosen NTT’s HIREC material for all of the X-Rain X-band radars, based on its proven performance in the Japanese telecommunications market to protect microwave antennas used for transmission systems.”
The coating ensures far more accurate measurement, but can also help prolong the life of the radar and reduce maintenance. “HIREC 100 contains a small amount of titanium dioxide, which serves as a photo-catalyst, keeping coated surfaces like new,” continued Iwano. “With this antifouling characteristic, deterioration due to air pollution is greatly reduced. A recommended coating thickness of approximately 30µm will ensure water repulsion is maintained for approximately three years.”
In prime position by the main entrance, Vaisala unveiled two new air quality transmitters for measuring pollution gases – the AQT410 and AQT420. “These transmitters offer a cost-effective, compact solution for supplementary air quality or near-reference air quality monitoring,” explained Erkki Järvinen, director, Vaisala.
“What we are showing here is a more affordable instrument that can be used to create a dense network – not to replace the high-level instruments providing reference measurements, but to supplement them. The price level and the technology itself are targeted to enable the establishment of a dense 1km grid network for measuring six basic parameters.”
Those parameters include some of the most common gaseous pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen monoxide (NO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and ozone (O3). The measurement data is sent wirelessly to a web-based database or available locally via a serial interface.
The gas measuring is based on proprietary advanced electrochemical technology that enables ppb measuring at an affordable price. “I am confident that with these devices we have a price/performance ratio that is better than existing offerings,” added Järvinen. The gas analysis module compensates the impact of ambient conditions on the sensor elements with sophisticated algorithms and active temperature control. Both transmitters are calibrated at Vaisala’s factory for a period of 12-24 months.
Kipp & Zonen was equally pleased with the enthusiastic response it received for its brand-new RaZON+ all-in-one solar monitoring system. Described as a competitively priced, yet very accurate system to measure direct normal irradiance (DNI) and diffuse horizontal irradiance (DHI) and calculate global horizontal irradiance (GHI), RaZON+ has been developed to outperform rotating shadow band and shadow mask systems. It features a unique soiling-resistant design to maximise data availability, and includes an integrated smart pyrheliometer to measure direct normal irradiance, and a shaded smart pyranometer for diffuse radiation measurements.
“The solar energy market in particular needs a direct diffuser and global radiation device to measure the efficiency and performance ratio of the power plant in order to determine whether incoming radiation matches outgoing electrical energy,” explained Ruud Ringoir, product manager, Kipp & Zonen. “This answers the demand for a low-cost, good-quality instrument that provides just what these customers need – nothing more, nothing less. As it will often be used in environments where there is a lot of dust, sand storms, etc., we have removed the window from the pyrheliometer’s collimator tube, and a quartz diffusor helps minimise the effect of soiling, so less cleaning is needed. The maintenance interval is much larger than high-end, more sophisticated instruments.”
Beyond DNI, DHI and GHI in W/m2, RaZON+ also provides sunshine duration, total energy in kWh/m2, sun position and GPS information. All measured and calculated data is stored in an internal datalogger and is available in real time. Ethernet and RS-485 interfaces ensure easy integration with solar energy plant systems to access data.
“We have seen very strong interest in this product here at the show, particularly from scientists in developing countries that want accurate data at an affordable price,” noted Ringoir, who added that first customer shipments will begin in October.
Greater affordability and ease of use were also the driving force behind a completely new compact logging transceiver displayed by first-time exhibitor, FTS Inc. The company’s new LT1 telemetry solution is an MQTT-based compact logging transceiver for monitoring sensors that measure environmental parameters. In addition to its high-quality network connection hardware, the LT1 stores sensor measurements on a user-accessible memory card.
“The LT1 and its supporting FTS360 software have been designed and developed from the ground up, to scale and operate securely on existing networks,” explained Alan DeCiantis, director of product management, FTS. “By leveraging a widely adopted open-protocol platform in MQTT, scaling the number of units and users can be done easily.”
Small and portable, the LT1 also includes DIN-rail mounts for easy integration with existing enclosures. The company claims that connecting an SDI-12, NMEA and tipping bucket rain gauge sensor is simple and straightforward, and setup can be done either locally or off-site, using either Bluetooth or the LT1’s web-based configuration software.
“We found that a lot of existing solutions are expensive because they have multiple features that don’t necessarily apply to smaller sites,” added DeCiantis. “By listening closely to the market, we’ve been able to keep costs down.”
LT1 was initially designed for the cellular market, but Iridium and GOES/EUMETSAT variants will be available soon. “We’ve had a lot of visitors to our stand who are struggling internally with future-proofing their systems, and see this as an ideal solution in helping them to do that, as a result of the MQTT protocol, which makes it easier to exchange data between networks, systems and countries, for the benefits of early warnings, etc.,” concluded DeCiantis.
Kisters revealed its new HS40 Air Force Series II gas purge compressor and bubbler water level sensing system, marking its first-ever public display. The system has been designed to replace conventional nitrogen gas bottle supply to bubble unit/gas purge systems, and is ideal for measuring water levels in dams, rivers, canals and tanks with up to 40m H2O (130ft) head.
The company has taken a stand at all six editions of Meteorological Technology World Expo, and was overwhelmed by the response from customers at this year’s show. “We had the best first day of the show that we have ever seen since first exhibiting at the show six years ago,” said Edgar Wetzel, business development manager, Kisters.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in the HS40 water level sensing system, which has been designed for deployment in very harsh conditions – it’s used in Southeast Asia, Alaska and Australia, for example,” he continued. “It’s really different from competing products as it operates on just 12V, and does not need any external gas supply to make the bubbles, instead using ambient air. It also has a desiccant-free system to dry the air before releasing it in the water, which greatly reduces maintenance as you no longer have to replace the desiccant periodically.”
The basic system consists of an air compressor, a two-litre receiving tank, an advanced membrane filter dryer, micro mist separator with an auto purge valve, and a bubbler system all built into a single small enclosure. “The system also has no electric connection with the water body – many competing systems do, making them vulnerable to lightning strikes, which can not only damage the sensor in the water, but can also follow the electric leads to the measurement station and damage the datalogger and other key systems.”
At this year’s show, visitors were able to choose between no fewer than three dedicated conferences: the WMO’s Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO) Technical Conference (CIMO TECO 2016), which took place right next to the exhibition floor; the Metrology for Meteorology and Climate (MMC 2016) conference; the Satcom Forum 2016, plus numerous vendor workshops.
Dr Wenjian Zhang, assistant secretary general, WMO; Prof Dr Bertrand Calpini, president of CIMO; and Mr Brian Day, chairman of HMEI, headlined an impressive opening panel of speakers at the CIMO TECO event, which included a host of fascinating case studies from met offices from across the globe. It also saw the presentation of the hotly anticipated 2016 Professor Dr Vilho Väisälä Awards, which recognised some outstanding research into atmospheric measurement techniques, as well as ongoing work to eliminate dangerous and obsolete instruments in the developing world.
In total, all three conferences saw some 270 papers presented over a full three days of knowledge sharing, research findings and unrivalled social networking. A free-to-attend exhibitor drinks reception, hosted by Earth Networks on the second day of the show, provided a further opportunity for exchanging contacts and making new acquaintances.
The 2017 show!
After such a successful 2016 edition of the show, the organisers are now hard at work preparing and delivering an even greater show for 2017. The dates for your diary are 10-12 October, and the destination is the wonderful city of Amsterdam, the cosmopolitan heart of the Netherlands. See you there!