Very Low-cost MEMS-based Ultrasonic Anemometer for Use Indoors and in HVAC Ducts

Ultrasonic Room Anemometer with Carrier Board

The new airspeed sensor is disruptively inexpensive and disruptively sophisticated.

Project Overview

Recipient: The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Berkeley campus

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,488,964

Co-funded Amount: $249,000

Agreement Number: EPC-14-013

Project Term: 8/25/2015 - 3/30/2019

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Berkeley, CA

Site Location(s):  Berkeley, CA; Lexington, Ky; Oakland, CA; Winnipeg, Mb

The Issue

Air movement in buildings impacts comfort, ventilation, air quality, occupant health and safety, and is responsible for about half of the energy used for heating, ventilating and air conditioning buildings. Currently, the way air velocity and air flow are measured is inaccurate, failure-prone, and often expensive. Airflow within rooms is almost never monitored because of the expense, power draw, and fragility of existing sensors. Air flow in ducts, and in other HVAC equipment are often out of calibration. The result is that building control systems cannot predict energy flows accurately.

Project Innovation

This project develops and tests prototype room and duct anemometers that are low-cost, low power, accurate, calibration-free and compact. The anemometers are wireless, able to be inexpensively installed in existing buildings, can operate on a battery for years and communicate wirelessly via the internet to the building's control system. The technology is expected to save energy by using collected data to correct wasteful HVAC malfunctions that result in inefficient systems and uncomfortable buildings.

Project Benefits

The ability to accurately control airflow with these low cost sensors can expand the comfortable temperature setpoint range in air-conditioned buildings, such as allowing the setting higher indoor temperatures while still being comfortable. Based on industry feedback, the most promising application is to incorporate the sensors into HVAC system. Assuming a 15 percent market penetration for applications, and a 10 percent penetration for retrofit the estimated total statewide savings could be 265 gigawatt hours per year and 38 million therms per year, based upon an estimated level of market penetration 10 years.

Lower Costs: The prototype uses very low power to operate and is less expensive than products currently on the market. The estimated cost to produce at volume is under $200 (compared with over $1,000 from other vendors). The anemometer uses very low power to operate. The estimated savings to California commercial and residential ratepayers are $26 million per year in reduced energy bills for building owners/occupants, assuming technology applicability in 25-75% of buildings, a 10-15% potential savings on all HVAC related energy use, and market penetration of 5-25%. Due to potentially less equipment operation time, equipment life could be extended along with reduced operations and maintenance cos

Increase Safety: Safety of occupants is improved when ventilation air is accurately measured, as inaccurate measurements often lead to insufficient ventilation to the occupants.

Economic Development: This project provided work for 17 individuals in California for a total of 42,683 hours over the course of 3.5 years. The mature technology has the potential to create high tech manufacturing jobs in California.




Project Overview

Recipient: The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Berkeley campus

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $2,488,964

Co-funded Amount: $249,000

Agreement Number: EPC-14-013

Project Term: 8/25/2015 - 3/30/2019

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Berkeley, CA

Site Location(s):  Berkeley, CA; Lexington, Ky; Oakland, CA; Winnipeg, Mb

Project Team

CEC Project Manager: Karen Perrin

Recipient Contact: Edward Arens

Match Partner(s): Center for the Built Environment - UC Berkeley; BAF Technologies Inc.; Vigilent; Chirp Microsystems, Inc.; Price Industries

Subcontractor(s): Taylor Engineering; BAF Technologies Inc.; Chirp Microsystems, Inc.; Price Industries; TRC Engineers, Inc.


 

 

For questions or additional information, please email RandDProjectinfo@energy.ca.gov

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