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 velocity and air flow are currently measured using devices such as hot-wire anemometers or are inferred from pressure measurements. These are inaccurate, failure-prone, and often expensive. They limit the applications in which air speeds and their associated energy flows are measured in buildings, causing very large energy costs and health risks.

Project Innovation

This project is developing low-cost, low power, accurate, calibration-free, and compact airflow sensors (anemometers) for measuring: (1) room airflow in occupied commercial buildings; and (2) volumetric air flow in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The technology saves energy by using the collected data to correct wasteful HVAC malfunctions that result in inefficient systems and uncomfortable buildings. The anemometers are wireless, able to be inexpensively installed in existing buildings, operate on a battery for years and communicate wirelessly via the internet to the building's control system. The device also senses temperature, and its orientation and location.

Project Benefits

Air movement in buildings impacts comfort and ventilation, air quality, occupant health and safety, and is responsible for about half of the energy used in HVAC (11 percent of California’s total energy). Currently, airspeed and airflow in buildings cannot be effectively measured due to the expense, power draw, directional sensitivity, and fragility of existing sensors. Communicating wirelessly with the building’s control system, these low cost anemometers facilitate more efficient operation of building HVAC systems, resulting in an anticipated savings of 183 GWh/yr and 52,000 metric tons CO2e/yr.

Lower Costs: Estimated savings of $26 million per year in reduced energy bills for building owners/occupants, and reduce operations and maintenance costs, assuming technology applicability in 25-75% of buildings, a 10-15% potential for savings on all HVAC related energy use, and market penetration of 5-25%

Greater Reliability: HVAC systems can be turned off when measured airflow indicates ventilation requirements have been met, resulting in improved system operation, power reliability, and reduce grid impacts.

Increase Safety: Safety of occupants is improved when ventilation air is accurately measured, as inaccurate pressure sensors often lead to reduced zone ventilation rates, and malfunctioning outside air dampers often do not provide sufficient minimum outside air.

Economic Development: This project will provide 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.

Environmental Benefits: Estimated savings of 112,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide/yr, assuming technology applicability in 25-75% of buildings, a 20-30% potential for savings on all HVAC related energy use, and market penetration of 5-25%.




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: Heather Bird

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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