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Sensor system improves air quality while making building ventilation more energy efficient
Date:2/4/2014

A research consortium being coordinated at Saarland University is developing a novel sensor system for monitoring airborne contaminants that will provide high-quality indoor air without the energy losses typically associated with ventilation. Energy consumption levels can be halved as a result. Professor Andreas Schtze is an expert in gas sensor technology at Saarland University and is the coordinator of the European research project 'SENSIndoor'. 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 Schtze. 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 developi
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Contact: Dr. Andreas Schütze
schuetze@lmt.uni-saarland.de
49-068-130-24663
Saarland University
Source:Eurekalert  

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