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The US Department of Energy (DoE) is providing funding, which technology firm PARC will use to develop low-cost carbon emission sensors, to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency within buildings.

The funding is being sourced from the Building Technologies Office, an arm of the DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Through the programme, the DoE is providing up to $15.8 million for some 13 projects to implement early-stage research and development of buildings energy management technologies.

PARC is using the funding to come up with a low-cost, printed sorbent that measures carbon emissions via physical adsorption.

The sensor heats up as a result of the adsorption and PARC measures the heat produced to determine the levels of carbon emitted. The goal of the research is to develop a low-cost sensor with a sensitivity of 50ppm.

The average carbon emission concentration in the atmosphere is 400 ppm, with higher indoor concentrations reaching over 1500 ppm, yet national regulations require indoor emission levels to be below 1,100 ppm.

Overventilation of buildings is one-factor causing buildings to increase carbon emission levels.

Dr. Clinton Smith, lead PARC researcher on the project, said: “Prominent studies have shown that high levels of CO2 lower our efficacy in decision-making and in our ability to concentrate.

“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.”