Alicat COMPOSER™: What can it do for you?

Gas Select COMPOSER gas mix calibration software, gas composition screen

On October 13th, 2014, Alicat Scientific Inc. released new on board firmware for mass flow meters and controllers. The feature released with this suite that I am writing to talk to you about today is the COMPOSER™ gas mix calibration firmware. If you follow Alicat news on social media, you may have seen the new section of the website that highlights the COMPOSER™ software here:


Videos, an operating brochure, and some application notes are present there, and give you a great basic outlook on the capabilities of COMPOSER™. As Alicat’s Lead Applications Engineer, I know these are great tools to help understanding and using the new options available, but I also know that sometimes the best way to determine the value of new options like this is to just have a conversation about what it can do, and why it might be important to you.

I hope today’s blog post accomplishes just that. In the rest of this post I will endeavor to start the conversation of “What can COMPOSER™ do for you?” and I welcome any questions or comments in the comments section to help you, the Alicat user, understand exactly how these new software options may be important to you in your past, present, and future applications of measuring and controlling the flow of gases.

What is Gas Select 5.0™?

COMPOSER screenshot P1010943First, it is important to mention that Alicat mass flow products have always had “Gas Select™” a list of selectable gases, available on the digital display, and accessible via the digital interface, that allows users to select the appropriate gas that they are choosing to flow through the Alicat device. Setting the Gas Select™ to the appropriate gas that you are flowing guarantees the NIST-traceable accuracy of measurement for that gas. The Alicat Gas Select™ functionality precludes the need for correction factors and also allows the user to change between gases, without needing to change the full-scale range of the measurement device.

For the last seven years or so, the Alicat gas list contained 30 gases and gas mixes on standard devices, and 36 gases and gas mixes on corrosive resistant devices.

Gas Select™ 5.0 significantly expands these options, providing 98 gas and gas mix selections on standard devices and 130 selections on corrosive resistant devices. You can read the full list of gas selections here: alicat.com/composer.

The Gas Select menu now has industry-based menu selections that categorize the new choices into sub-menus to allow easy selection of the appropriate set of gases you are working with. Some examples of the sub menus include Fuel, Laser, Bioreactor, and Refrigerant gases, as well as many more!

What does COMPOSER™ do ?

COMPOSER screenshot P1010875Now that we know how the new firmware has increased and improved upon Gas Select™ functionality, we can get into the new COMPOSER functionality and the answer to the question: What does COMPOSER™ do?

In addition to vastly expanding the already pre-programmed choices of pure gases and gas mixes available, COMPOSER™ allows end users to create their own gas mixes on the fly.

Users that are accustomed to dealing with shifting gas mixtures are well-acquainted with some of the frustrations of doing so. When the components of a gas mix change, the properties of the mix can change in unpredictable ways. This causes inaccuracies that are hard to account for, or back out of existing data.

Using any of the pre-programmed selections as ingredients, COMPOSER™ users can now create their own gas mixes. Utilizing a very simple and straightforward display interface or a simple RS-232 command, users specify the component percentages of a custom gas mix. The mix is then saved in a sub menu of up to 20 customer created gas mixes and users can freely set the mass flow device to the newly created gas mix.

The COMPOSER™ software calculates the viscosity of the customer-entered gas mixture and loads the NIST-traceable gas properties of the new mix into the calculation of flow measurement that the device is performing. This means that the same accuracy specification that applies to all gas measurement for the pre-programmed gases and gas mixes on the Alicat device also applies to the mix that the user has created in the field.

What does COMPOSER™ do for you?

COMPOSER screenshot P1010987COMPOSER™ allows you to stay ahead of the game, by enabling you to program your device for the new gas mix you have to measure. With the ability to compose new mixtures on the fly and save up to 20 of the custom mixtures on board, each test can be performed knowing that the appropriate measurement is occurring without further need to apply correction factors or repair existing data.

Expanded Gas Select choices… The ability to create custom gas mixtures on the fly and save them in your mass flow device… The end of correction factors and the need to buy a new flow device only because you wish to switch the gas you are flowing… COMPOSER™ brings all of this functionality to Alicat users without any additional cost!

I hope this sheds some light on the uses of COMPOSER™ and the manner in which it can simplify and improve your gas measuring applications.