Team Members

Since the industrial age carbon emissions have been steadily climbing. Studies have shown that carbon emissions in urban environments can reach higher than average levels. Inside our buildings the CO2 concentrations can reach even higher levels with an average increase of 200-400ppm and up to 600+ ppm. A Harvard study has shown that a increase of only 200-400ppm above average atmospheric levels can decrease cognitive ability by an astonishing 20%. With most people spending the majority of their time indoors where we need to be the most productive we are under this effect.

Our submission for the Keysight IOT Innovation challenge is a Household Cryogenic Carbon Capture device. Using standard off the shelf sensors we can measure CO2 in our homes and actively reduce the amount present using a cryogenic chamber, freezing(deposition) the carbon-dioxide out of the air which can then be collected and re-purposed. With a Bosch BME680 sensor and off the shelf CO2 sensor we can collect data on both the levels of CO2 and the IAQ. This data can provide us with details on a mostly un-monitored situation that can be uploaded to the cloud, analyzed, and utilized. Giving insight into not only household urban CO2 levels but also VOCs and even potentially being able to detect fires.

The first step is a dehumidification chamber for removing as much water as possible from the air. This dehumidification chamber will have a fan forcing air through a granular desiccant (silica gel). From there the air in the chamber will measured by both a CO2 sensor and a humidity sensor. It will have a heat plate for drying the silica once it becomes saturated and is no longer capable of drying the air. In-between the dehumidification chamber and the cryogenic chamber a flow valve that can be controlled electronically for the desiccant regenerating process. The cryogenic chamber will have a cold plate optimized for the deposition process. When the solid CO2 collects it will fall into an insulated removable storage chamber. Once the CO2 has been removed from the air, the air will then be released from the cryogenic chamber back into the room. The cold air will be passed over the coils of the cooling system to further increase efficiency of the device. A second co2 sensor will be on the exit side to gauge the efficiency of the device. The cleaned air is back in the room. The solidified CO2 will then sit in the insulated chamber indefinitely until it either reaches capacity or is removed by the owner.

Using a wi-fi/Bluetooth capable microcontroller, such as the ESP8266, an LCD touchscreen with a button pad, and supporting software the user can interact with the device directly, with their phone, or over the cloud. The data will always us to create a map of indoor CO2 levels and potentially dangerous VOCs(volatile organic compounds). The CO2 sensors can be used to detect spikes in CO2 which could indicate a fire or other hazard. The gathered information can also be part of a larger database to monitor local climate shifts or shifts in the indoor air quality. The best part of this device is that nothing new is required. All the parts and pieces already exist. They have yet to be put together for this application in this manner, with most focused on large-scale Carbon capture and storage (CCS). Using standard HVACR cooling we can create the cryogenic chamber. Silica gel is essentially an everyday item and the microcontrollers are widespread and cheap. Nothing exceptional or incredible is required for production. The end user will have a simple device that can be plugged into a wall outlet and turned on.

This device has the potential to completely change the world, if the Harvard study cited is to be believed then the sheer loss in cognitive ability due to excess CO2 levels is immense. Most people are essentially running on 85% of their brain or less, imagine the impact of so many people suddenly being able to think more clearly, almost overnight. It could make an impact on the economy if not then at least peoples everyday lives, all well being a potentially carbon negative technology. The household cryogenic carbon capture device fits the Keysight IOT challenge because not only does it measure and provide data for everyday homes it also does something about the problem. Rather than just monitor a situation I decided to do something about it. Since learning how little carbon it takes to reduce brain functionality and that I personally experience this everyday gave me the drive to do something about it. This is my answer for indoor CO2 as a problem.

Sources:

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.1510037
https://www.gwern.net/docs/co2/2015-stafford.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3548274/

Inspiration

My inspiration for this project was thinking not only about what would win the contest but what would be practical in the real world, so I asked myself whats something that could fit into this competition that most people, even climate change skeptics, would buy. I then remember a video by Tom Scott where he laid out the dangers of CO2 on human cognitive ability, and put two and two together. Even if someone isn't a climate change activist they would want a device that protects their mind from potential damage, we are living in an ever more complex world where reduced cognitive ability will be a major handicap. Meaning that it would be a valuable product even to people who don't care about climate change in the slightest. I want my ideas to not only win a competition but have an impact in the real world and potentially be developed into practical products.

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