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Senseair Sunrise - is it really a new sensor generation?

If you look at NDIR sensor technology, LED has been the holy grail for quite a long time. If you know the business, you have probably seen a competitor that released CO₂ sensors with LED technology a while ago. For us, the only useful technology is the one that improves business for our customers or where we can find new opportunities. The sensor performance and quality issue is a big part of it, and until 2008, we could not see LED making any improvements on our, or anybody else’s, sensor technology. But just as the transistor removed the tube, we knew that one day the lightbulb would be replaced by a solid-state emitter. In cooperation with AKM, we started a new design. The goal was to finally make a sensor that was robust enough for the automotive industry and used ultra-low power for IoT applications. To satisfy our customers, all this must come with high accuracy and the possibility to manufacture large volumes in full automation.

 

Sensor on wheels

A vehicle is a very demanding environment that can travel in freezing cold or extremely hot climate. In this big span, there is a demand for the cabin to provide a temperature around 20°C as well as excellent air quality. Just as the HVAC world of buildings found that energy can be saved with adapted ventilation, the automotive world is now travelling down the same route. With demands of energy-efficient transportations and with new power sources like electricity, it is apparent that CO₂ will play a role in making certain that the driver and the passengers breathe fresh air. At the same time, you need to keep energy costs down. Not only that; with a new generation of air conditioners, the cooling gas will be CO₂. With that, you will, of course, need an alarm system in case a leak occurs.

 

Cut the wires

We are convinced that the cost of a sensor is less than the cost to mount it with wires in a building. You might think that a sensor will stay in place for its entire lifespan (15 years or more), but buildings are flexible and there is an ever ongoing change of space and purpose. With that comes moving entire infrastructures, including sensors.

With IoT, the demand for sensors is rising. Any kind of intelligence needs input to make a decision. In the case of HVAC applications, we see a growing demand for sensors that provide more than energy savings. Since we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, air quality is an important issue.

 

Explosions, explosions

Solid State is a wonderful solution when it comes to safety. When we get rid of the hot filament of the lightbulb, we can offer a high precision instrument that can be brought into dangerous environments. Consumer IoT gets all the headlines and hype, but the industrial sector is growing quietly in the background. According to research done by PwC, the IoT market in the commercial industry will be $195 billion by 2022. And it might surprise you, but farming is far ahead. Just as they were when industrialization first saw the light of day.

Our sensors are already part of efficiency (CO₂ in greenhouses) and part of the safety industry (environment, mines etc.). With Senseair Sunrise, the demand will rise.

 

Optical Solid-State Sensor?

When trying to explain a new generation, we used three words that also represent the cooperation that was a big part of the development of this new technology.

The optical bench in Sunrise is a great improvement in itself. We use “White Cell Optics”, a solution that optimises the infrared light and gives you the possibility to adjust the length of the beam depending on what range you want to measure (400 - 5,000 ppm).

Our expertise in optics and gas met with the AKM experts on solid-state technology.

As you may already know, accuracy is dependent on the number of measurements made. Energy can be saved by reducing the sample rate, but that comes with lower precision. However, the peak intensity of the light source has an even stronger impact on measurement performance. This explains why previous LED sensors did not show sufficient measurement quality even though the light emitter itself is high-efficiency. The AKM solution is an IR-LED with optimised peak emission combined with improvements on the detector side, as well as optimised optics, in order to maximise the utilisation of the available light. It also provides a new signal processing technique by combining the infrared light-emitting/receiving element and an external MCU dedicated to the measurement. The signal of the light-receiving element (IR sensor) is amplified by a programmable gain amplifier and then AD converted with 24-bit resolution.

 

Welcome to a new day – Senseair Sunrise