Project Aims to Improve Indoor Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, and Fuel the Fast Growing IoT
PARC, a Xerox company, was selected via a Funding Opportunity Award from the Department of Energy to develop low-cost CO2 sensors to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency within buildings. The PARC project is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) through its Building Technologies Office (BTO), which announced in August 2017 its investment of up to $15.8 million in 13 projects that will drive innovation in early-stage R&D for advanced building technologies and systems that will serve as a foundation for future technological developments and reductions in building energy consumption.
For this DOE-funded project, PARC will produce a low-cost, printed sorbent that measures CO2 via physical adsorption. The sensor heats up as a result of the CO2 adsorption, and PARC measures the heat produced to determine the levels of CO2. The goal of the research effort is to develop a low-cost sensor with a sensitivity of 50ppm.
“Prominent studies have shown that high levels of CO2 lower our efficacy in decision-making and in our ability to concentrate,” said Dr. Clinton Smith, lead PARC researcher on the project. “We aim to create a technology which will enable per-room level measurement of CO2 concentration. This will allow building managers finer grained control of their HVAC system for more energy efficiency, and it will also help to promote healthy indoor air quality.”
The average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 400 ppm, with higher indoor concentrations that can reach over 1500 ppm. National regulations require indoor CO2 levels to be below 1,100 ppm. Currently, there is no cost-effective means of measuring indoor CO2 levels and buildings are over-ventilated, wasting substantial amounts of energy. Low-cost CO2 sensors will be significant in helping reduce levels and manage building efficiency.
The Internet of Things (IoT) enables a myriad of solutions to help us sense and interpret the world. Printing is a promising approach to mass-produce and customize sensor systems to support the fast growing IoT. The low-cost, flexible form factor, and simple installation of PARC’s approach is ideal for a variety of applications including building efficiency, air quality, smart cities, industrial and residential safety, and wearables. In addition to the cost of fabrication and materials, commissioning is a major barrier to economical implementation. Automatic localization, simplified calibration, and redundancy can help reduce the commissioning effort required. The key to the success of any widespread IoT deployment is the ability to utilize configurable, on-demand, low-cost sensor systems, and to design the technology to best fit the application.
The DOE Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2017 solicitation funded a total of 13 projects, encompassing sensors and controls, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R), windows, and building envelope (the physical elements, such as doors and walls, separating a building’s interior from its exterior). The CO2 sensor project falls within the sensors and controls category.
PARC, a Xerox Company provides custom R&D, technology, expertise, best practices and intellectual property to Fortune 500 companies, startups and government agencies. For nearly 50 years, PARC has lived at the leading edge of innovation. Through an Open Innovation approach that combines scientific creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration and business drive, PARC continues to invent, develop and deliver breakthrough technologies with the capacity to transform or create new global markets. Bringing together leading scientists, engineers and designers, PARC works across multiple industries, with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Human-Machine Collaboration, Internet of Things and Machine Intelligence, Digital Design and Manufacturing, Novel Printing, Microsystems and Smart Devices, and the Digital Workplace. For more information, visit www.parc.com.