High quality indoor air, energy efficiently
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Fläkt Woods Oy have developed a flow sensor which enables ventilation to adapt to actual demand, thereby improving indoor air quality and energy efficiency. The flow control utilises a flow sensor, based on ultrasound, which is ideal for use in challenging hospital conditions and schools, for example.
Existing ventilation systems are based on estimated average occupancy rates and cannot adapt to unexpected changes in them. For example, the air can be poor in a meeting room due to inadequate ventilation, if more than the expected number of occupants arrive; or the ventilation can be humming away in an empty room, wasting energy.
Under the ULVI joint project, funded by Tekes, VTT and Fläkt Woods have developed a new flow sensor, which enables reliable measurement across the entire speed range, even at low flow rates. No dirt-gathering or bulky measuring devices are needed for the ventilation system. This maintenance-free, quiet, precise and intelligent sensor solution does not cause pressure drops.
"Our flow sensor is based on ultrasound technology. An ultrasound pulse is transmitted in the radial direction of the air channel and is measured differentially. This measurement system enables us to eliminate several sources of error and obtain highly accurate measurements," says Anu Kärkkäinen of VTT, who is leading the research team.
"The new flow controller allows just the right volume of air to be pumped into a room, based on the current load. The overall lifecycle costs of a property fall when the ventilation works precisely and is demand-controlled," says Product Manager Timo Kaasalainen of Fläkt Woods. "Demand-controlled ventilation reduces energy costs by 45–50 percent," he estimates.
The product will be launched on the Finnish and Swedish markets first, in September.
"The ULVI project is a good example of the cost-effective application of technology to a new area. VTT has been developing silicon-based MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) sensors since the 90s and we now have a strong basis for meeting the measurement technology challenges faced by companies," says Kärkkäinen.
Click on photo to open up full-size image. Photos: Fläkt Woods.