Using VOC Sensors to Monitor the Performance of Air Purifiers

Pollution can significantly reduce the quality of both indoor and outdoor air and is detrimental to human health. With respect to indoor air pollution, common activities like using a boiler or cooking releases dangerous gases, including carbon monoxide.

In extreme circumstances these gases can causes serious problems. When humans breathe, they produce carbon dioxide naturally. This gas can reach harmful levels if several people are sharing a single room that lacks proper ventilation.

High levels of carbon dioxide can lead to nausea, dizziness, headaches and more. Office workers who spend an extended amount of time in enclosed buildings frequently report these kinds of symptoms. This phenomenon is known as sick building syndrome, and one of its risk factors is known to be poor air quality.

Symptoms often become worse with poor air quality; particularly in people who suffer from allergies and respiratory conditions like asthma. Other sources that contribute to poor air quality are cigarette smoke, dust and pollen carried in from the outdoors.

Indoor Air Pollution from Volatile Organic Compounds

Another common source of indoor air pollution are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are highly volatile substances. VOC’s sources in work and home environments include paint and varnishes, cosmetics, cleaning products, sofas, mattresses, carpets, newspapers and photocopiers.

VOCs emit an unpleasant smell, and contain several harmful compounds including chloride, benzene, acetone and formaldehyde. These compounds can cause irritation to the throat, nose and eyes, and can result in nausea and headaches. People with respiratory problems are more susceptible to these compounds.

Improving Air Quality with an Air Purifier

For people working or living in a building with poor air quality, the best way to improve the quality of air is to deal the issue directly. For example, there may be a way to improve the ventilation. If this option is not available or people are especially sensitive to poor air quality (for example, if they have respiratory conditions), an air purifier can be beneficial.

Air purifiers use several different types of filtering technology to reduce the levels of different types of pollutants. The different types of filters available are:

  • Photocatalytic - These filters use a photocatalyst to oxidize water and create hydroxyl radicals. These radicals can impact different types of pollutants, such as airborne pathogens and VOCs.
  • Ultraviolet light - Microorganisms are destroyed by UV light, which acts as a sterilizer. These pathogens include airborne viruses that can cause flu and other kinds of diseases.
  • Activated carbon - These filters use porous carbon, which has a large surface area for particle absorption. As a result, VOCs are effectively removed.

Air Quality Sensors

Sensors have been integrated into certain types of air purifiers. These sensors are designed to track the ambient air quality. Air purifiers will automatically tune their working capacity based on the quantity of pollutants perceived by the sensor. SGX Sensortech specializes in developing sensors that are capable of detecting different types of gases, including VOCs.

The operation and performance of air purifiers can be tracked with stand-alone VOC sensors, instead of the in-built VOC sensors. In case VOCs are present, the air purifier improves the air quality in response.

The VOC sensors supplied by SGX Sensortech are designed with next-generation technology. Sensors using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology and metal oxide semiconductors have a high level of sensitivity and increasinf their capablility of detecting VOCs.

Compact yet powerful sensors can be developed with the aid of MEMS technology. These instruments allow real-time detection, and can detect even slight differences in the level of VOCs over a broad detection range. Some sensors can be easily inserted into a power socket where they work with high-energy efficiency at minimum power. VOC sensors, developed by SGX Sensortech, specify the level of carbon dioxide gas present. This gas serves as a proxy for the measurement of air quality.

SGX Sensortech is planning to develop VOC sensors in the future. These devices would track other factors that impact air quality such as temperature and humidity. Users may even customize VOC sensors so they can easily select the preferred factors to be determined.

Measuring the Efficiency of Air Purifiers

Factors like the speed, type and variety of particles that can be removed from the air determine the performance of air purifiers. In order to determine the efficiency, air purifiers have been given the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineer ratings in the United States.

Once the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers approves the air purifiers, the devices are given a Clean Air Delivery Rate as an indication of their efficiency. This rate helps in determining the amount of air purified each minute.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by SGX Sensortech (IS) Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit SGX Sensortech (IS) Ltd.

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