SBIR Phase II: Sensors for Smart HVAC controls

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013

$649K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Dioxide Materials
3998 FAU Boulevard Unit 300
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop inexpensive carbon dioxide sensors for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls. CO2 sensors are now being used to lower heating bills and improve air quality in new commercial buildings, but they have not been widely deployed in retrofits (i.e. A/C replacement), because the sensors are too expensive, and require too much power. In Phase I, Dioxide Materials has demonstrated a new design that requires 3 orders of magnitude less power, and are projected to cost a factor of 5 less than the CO2 sensors used in HVAC today. That will allow CO2 sensors to be used in building retrofits, and residential buildings saving energy, and lowering HVAC costs for a wide range of customers. These sensors use new combinations of catalytic materials that have never been characterized before. Consequently, there are significant scientific challenges in the work including 1)developing novel inks that show high catalytic activity for CO2 activation and can be printed by conventional screen screen printing processes. 2) developing technology to enhance the CO2 permeability through the electrolyte to enhance the measurement speed, 3) developing empirical models of the sensor response that can be used to develop algorithms, and later to be ported into HVAC design software 4) understanding the effects of the room environment on the sensor response and develop methods to mitigate the response. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project, if successful, will be to enable affordable control systems. Most HVAC systems are inefficient. They run full blast when buildings are nearly empty, and over ventilate because the air quality in a building is unknown. Several vendors have developed control systems that use CO2 sensors to assess the air quality and adjust the HVAC systems accordingly. Energy savings of up to $0.31/ft2/yr (i.e. $465/yr for a 1500 ft2 house) have been demonstrated, but the systems have not been widely deployed because the needed CO2 sensors are too expensive. If successful, Dioxide Materials? new sensors will make advanced HVAC control systems affordable. Utility bills will go down. Further, utilities will not need to generate as much electricity, so greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced.