Energy consumption levels can be halved as a result. Professor Andreas Schütze is an expert in gas sensor technology at Saarland University and is the coordinator of the European research project ‘SENSIndoor’.
Andreas Schütze (pictured right): His sensor systems find use in a wide range of applications, from detecting chemicals outgassing from individual products to monitoring the quality of indoor air.
Researchers plan to develop a cost-effective, intelligent ventilation system that will automatically supply fresh air to rooms and indoor spaces as and when needed.
The gas sensors detect air contamination due to the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Using the measurement data and information on when and how rooms are used, the system will be able to adjust the intensity and duration of ventilation. The project is being supported by the EU through a grant worth €3.4 million.
If windows are kept closed, indoor air can become a very unhealthy mix of chemicals, such as formaldehyde from furniture, solvents from carpet adhesives, chemical vapours from cleaning agents, benzene, xylene, and numerous others. This is particularly true when buildings have been well insulated and sealed to reduce energy costs. But what is good in terms of heat loss and energy efficiency, may not be so good for the health of those who live and work there.
Many volatile organic compounds are carcinogens and represent a health hazard particularly to children and older people. ‘If rooms are properly ventilated health hazards can be avoided. Unfortunately, our noses are usually unable to detect the presence of such contaminants, even when they are present at levels hazardous to health,’ explains project coordinator Andreas Schütze. Too much ventilation also results in high levels of heat loss, which has a negative cumulative effect on energy costs and the environment.
‘The sensor system that we are currently developing will maintain high-quality indoor air with the lowest possible contaminant levels while ensuring energy efficiency by means of automatic, customized ventilation,’ explains Professor Schütze. ‘The health hazards associated with high contaminant concentrations can therefore be avoided while at the same time reducing energy consumption in buildings by about fifty percent, which is highly significant in terms of existing carbon emission targets,’ says Schütze.
These highly sensitive artificial sense organs can reliably detect gases of all kinds, from toxic carbon monoxide to carcinogenic organic compounds, and can determine their concentrations quantitatively. Even the smallest quantities of trace gases do not go undetected by the sensors. The novel metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) gas sensors and so-called gas-sensitive field-effect sensors, which Schütze has been developing in collaboration with partners in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland, are able to detect air contaminants such as formaldehyde, benzene or xylene at concentrations well below one in a million.
However, in order to be used for the proposed application, the sensitivity of the monitoring system will need to be improved even further. The sensor system therefore collects molecules in the air over a known period of time and then quantitatively measures the amounts collected – an approach which significantly reduces the system’s detection threshold.
‘If the concentration of a particular molecule is above a specified limit, fresh air is automatically introduced to modify the composition of the air and re-establish good air quality. If all of the rooms in a building are equipped with our sensors and if the sensors are connected to an intelligent ventilation control unit, the system can ventilate each room in a way that has been optimized for the specific use to which that room is put.
For example, if there is a problem with contaminants in the indoor air of a school building, classroom ventilation can be adapted to fit in with teaching periods and break times,’ explains Schütze. The researchers within the SENSIndoor project will therefore be studying and evaluating a variety of ventilation scenarios in schools, office buildings, homes and residential buildings. The objective is to learn more about ventilation patterns and requirements in these buildings so that the system can provide optimized ventilation under any given conditions.Research institutions and industrial partners from Sweden (Linköping University and Sensic AB), Finland (University of Oulu and Picodeon LTD OY), Switzerland (SGX Sensortech SA), France (SARL Nanosense) and Germany (Saarland University, Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, 3S GmbH and Eurice GmbH) will be working together within the SENSIndoor project.
The project has received funding totalling €4.6 million over a period of three years, of which €3.4 million has come from the EU as part of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Approximately €1 million will be used to fund project research carried out in Saarland.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Andreas Schütze, Measurement Technology Lab, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany: Tel. +49 (0)681 302-4663, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press photographs are available at http://www.uni-saarland.de/pressefotos and can be used at no charge.
Note for radio journalists: Studio-quality telephone interviews can be conducted using broadcast audio IP codec technology (IP direct dial or via the ARD node 106813020001). Contact: Press and Public Relations Office +49 (0)681302-2601, or -64091.
Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics
30.05.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thermo-Optical Measuring method (TOM) could save several million tons of CO2 in coal-fired plants
25.05.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.
The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...
Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.
The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene
In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
30.05.2016 | Materials Sciences
30.05.2016 | Materials Sciences
30.05.2016 | Trade Fair News