Mass flow control at the camping

June 20 2023 Gerhard Bauhuis

The summer has started, which means the holiday season is coming. This the year people tend to leave their homes and go on a vacation. Whether that is going on an adventure, looking for relaxation or quality time with loved ones. From sandy beaches to scenic mountains, summer offers freedom and joy. My favorite way of enjoying my vacation is camping!


When I travel around, I always come across a lot of applications in which our flow meters play a role. Let me guide you through some mainstream products you often see at a camping site, and the involvement of mass flow controllers in their production processes.

Camper parked at the bottom of mountains
Dashboard car with a men driving

Use of flow meters in coating processes

There is a big chance that you will travel to your holiday destination by car. In the manufacturing process of many car parts, flow meters have played a role.  Let’s start with the dashboard of your car. Many cars have a leather dashboard; at least, it looks like leather. A major company manufactures ‘skin’ that covers a car's dashboard, to give it this ‘leather look’. The skin is produced by spraying liquid, coloured polyurethane into a nickel mould. A Coriolis mass flow controller combined with a valve forms the basis of this solution to accurately supply external release agent to the nickel mould surface. Read the application story about how this 'skin' is being manufactured.

Read more about dosing of release agent

Next to this, the foam within the dashboard is manufactured by using Bronkhorst flow meters. To create foam, a gas is added to a mixture, containing acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), to give it the right volume. Too much gas will make the foam unstable, too little and you’ll get a heavy solid block. Therefore, it is utterly important that the correct amount of gas is added with an accurate gas flow controller.

Glass coating

If you look beyond your dashboard, you’ll look through the front window of your car. To control the light transmittance of glass, but also to make glass water repellent, protect it from mechanical and chemical stress, increase the scratch resistance and shatter protection, thermal mass flow controllers are used for the coating process. By controlling individually process gas flows, film thickness uniformity improvements are achieved.

Coating on headlights

When polycarbonate was introduced as a replacement for headlights glass in the early 1980s, new problems arised. Headlights are subject to a harsh environment. Due to the position in the front of a car, critical parameters for lifetime and performance are weather ability, scratches and abrasion. To protect headlights from these factors, scratch and abrasion coatings have been developed that are sprayed on the headlights with the help of robots in which Coriolis mass flow controllers control the flow to the spraying nozzles.

Hydrophobic coating

However, surface treatment is not only applicable for glass and dashboards. If you have experience with camping, you will be familiar with how fierce the summer weather sometimes can be. The awning of your caravan needs to be water repellent - this also applies to your raincoat - to sustain the heavy rainfall now and then. To make fabrics and textiles hydrophobic, Empa - a research institute of the ETH Domain, applies plasma polymerisation to deposit thin, nanoscale layers on top of fabrics and fibers. For this, they are using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system, in short a CEM system. In one of our previous blogs ‘Hydrophobic coating, the answer to exercising in the rain’ you can read about this application.

Read more about hydrophobic coatings
Smiling woman wearing a rain coat under the rain
steaks on a grill barbecue

Flow control to odorize gas

Bronkhorst is also involved with many smaller attributes you will encounter on a camping site. Most people still enjoy the comfort of gas for heating or cooking on the stove. With gas we are also able to fire up the barbecue really fast, in comparison to the old-fashioned briquettes that are sometimes hard to ignite. When gas escapes from a pressurized cylinder, you’ll recognize this from its penetrating scent. However, like Sandra Wassink stated in her blog “How mass flow controllers make our gas smell”, natural gas is odorless. By controlled supply of odorants like Tetrahydrothiophene (THT) or Mecaptan with a mass flow controller, the scent is added to the natural gas on purpose.

Read more about odorisation of gas

Compact liquid dosage for scented candles

Let’s stay with the topic scent for a moment. For when we want to decrease the number of mosquitos in our surroundings, we often enlighten a citronella candle when we are getting tired of using the flyswatter. With the CORI-FILL dosing technology, Bronkhorst offers an easy-to-use setup to dose fragrances, like citronella, in candles. The addition of fragrance to a candle should be carefully monitored to ensure the candle burns cleanly and safely. To read in more detail about the role of flow meters in the production process of scented candles, please read the blog of Graham Todd about adding fragrances to candles.

Read more about adding fragrances to candles
White candles on a table with dishes
Standing man with a flashlight lightning the lake

Use of mass flow meters in manufacturing process of LED lights

Although a candle can bring much light to your surroundings, you won’t take a candle with you when you go to the camping toilets at night. Instead you will use a flashlight of course. The working principle of the LED (Light Emitting Diode) inside this flashlight is a technology where Bronkhorst flow meters play a role. LED works via the phenomenon called electroluminescence, which is the emission of light from a semiconductor (diode) under the influence of an electric field. By applying a semiconducting material like Gallium arsenide phosphide for instance, the manufacturing of red, orange and yellow light emitting diodes is possible. Flow meters play a role in the manufacturing process of these LEDs.  

I already told you so much, but frankly, just a tiny bit of all the camping applications our flow meters are involved at. Hopefully you got some more insights on the importance of Bronkhorst in many industries, also when you go camping.


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