HomeEducationGraduate and Undergraduate ProgramsResearch Experience for Undergraduates (REU)REU 2017 ProjectsBuilding low cost CO2 sensors for environmental applications

Building low cost CO2 sensors for environmental applications

Professor: Louis Derry

Project Description

Atmospheric CO2 varies on multiple time scales, and local variations can be large.  For example, CO2 in occupied indoor spaces can easily rise to > 1000 ppmv.  In the outdoor environment, local seasonal and diurnal variations can also be large, on the order of 100 ppm/day for example.  These variations contain information about the balance between photosynthesis and respiration in terrestrial ecosystems.  For this reason, measuring CO2 in the environment is desirable, but currently available research grade CO2 monitoring systems are expensive.  We want to take existing infrared CO2 sensors that are available at relatively low cost, and build robust units that can be deployed in the outdoor (and built) environment.  The low cost would allow these sensors to be deployed in greater numbers, and/or to be used in educational settings.  The project involves developing an Arduino or Raspberry Pi platform that hosts the IR sensor, collects data and communicates via USB drive or wireless network. Another important facet is the development of a weatherproof housing, possibly using 3D printing.  We will field test the units in both indoor and outdoor settings against research grade instrumentation, and establish precision and accuracy. A related project is the development of web-served version of an extant simple global model for atmospheric CO2 and temperature to be used as an educational resource, possibly in the Python environment.

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