Title
Demand Ventilation Microsystem
Microsystem Technology Results in Smaller and Lower Cost Sensing Solution
Technologies used

Microsystems

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    29 Gas Burners, Non-Domestic Cooling and Ventilation Equipment, Ventilation Systems
    331 Medical Applications
    332 Instrumentation
Abstract
NuAire Ltd. has specialised in the design, manufacture and marketing of ventilation systems for the domestic, commercial and industrial markets for over 25 years. The company manufactures a wide range of ventilation fans, ducting systems, stand alone air conditioning fans, ventilation control systems, and complete ventilation system products.

The company's MicroSave Netlink product is the market leader in the Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV) systems market. DCV requires the use of various sensors and control systems to increase the level of human comfort, and to minimise the energy consumption of the ventilation system, in response to the pattern of occupation in the individual rooms of a building

Currently, the MicroSave Netlink product uses microcontroller devices to interface to passive infra red (PIR) detectors and temperature sensors so as to control the ventilation system. These sensors alone however, have been demonstrated to be inadequate for conference, meeting and training rooms because the minimum fresh air replacement rate per person cannot be automatically controlled. One documented method to overcome this problem is the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors to control the ventilation rate, but the current purchased commercial sensor which is used in the MicroSave Netlink system is too large and expensive to enable its widespread use.

In addition NuAire's range of stand-alone air-conditioning fans can only be controlled manually by the user. These products do not have any means of intelligently controlling the speed of the fan according to the air quality and without user intervention, thus limiting their potential market penetration.

The objective of this AE is to improve the existing MicroSave Netlink product and the company's range of stand-alone fans by introducing microsystem technology. The microsystem provides a low cost and small component that:

1. measures air quality,
2. interprets the measurements to derive an appropriate ventilation fan speed setting,
3. and generate signals to communicate with the MicroSave Netlink product, or directly control a stand-alone fan.

Air quality will be assessed by the measurement of CO2 level. This will improve the performance of the MicroSave Netlink demand ventilation system, and lead to a large increase in sales for the NuAire's stand-alone fan range.

The application experiment was started on the 28 February 1997 with an anticipated duration of 12 months. However, as a result of an agreed change in subcontractor the application experiment was only completed in January 1999, an actual duration of 23 months.

The costs of the microsystem development were 142 KEUR. The expected return on investment is 280% over the a 4 year period. The payback period is anticipated to be 18 months.

It addition it has resulted in a sustained technology advance for the company enabling NuAire to develop increasingly sophisticated products based on microsystem technology for the detection of other gasses in the future.

This application experiment will be of interest to many other small to medium organisations in a wide range of industrial sectors, including gas burners (Prodcom Code 2921), ventilation systems (2930), instrumentation (3320) and medical applications (3310), as well as companies generally interested in the enabling technology of microsystems. The application experiment provides 'best practice' guidelines for other companies in the areas of subcontractor and technology selection, workplan planning and subcontract preparation.
Company
NuAire Ltd
Western Industrial Estate
Caerphilly
CF83 1XH
UK

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Microsystems technology provided NuAire Ltd with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.


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Univercity of Glamorgan
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