The University of Southern California Human Powered Vehicle Design Team used our K-30 sensor in an attempt to develop an automated cabin fresh air delivery system for their vehicle.
This project was part of their overall strategy to design an entry for the 2014-2015 Human Powered Vehicle Design Challenge sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
CO2Meter.com was a sponsor for the USC team.
The goal of the project was to improve rider performance by keeping the CO2 ppm in the cabin below a determined threshold and regulating cabin temperature while maintaining vehicle aerodynamics.
The team knew at CO2 buildup in an enclosed space can cause drowsiness and increased heart rate. The cabin of an enclosed HPV is typically sealed off except in areas where the wheels are exposed to the road. However, as air pressure is low under the vehicle, as demonstrated by computer simulations, these openings have a minimal effect on the cabin environment. When physical exertion is combined with a small, enclosed cabin, CO2 build up has a magnified effect on the rider and can hinder his or her performance. By removing high concentration of CO2 from the air, negative effects, such as drowsiness and headaches, are minimized and rider comfort and performance is increased. Currently, there are no cabin regulation systems for closed fairing bicycles available.
To create a prototype, a small scale version of the HPV cabin was replicated using a wood enclosure and an actuating flap. An Arduino, Firgelli L12 actuator, and CO2 sensor were part of the testing apparatus. The threshold CO2 ppm level was reached by breathing in to the enclosure through an external mouth tube. A fan was placed in front of the wood box so that when the flap was opened, air would flow into the box, displacing the CO2 saturated air, bringing the CO2 concentration in the box back to the desired level. Furthermore, a heat gun was used to increase the internal temperature of the box. This apparatus was used to test the effectiveness of the CO2 and temperature regulation system, as well to tune the PID controller.
Although the project showed the CO2 sensor-controlled air intake worked, because they decided to used an open-air cabin, the system was not used in the final design.