Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

ACCURATE, STABLE HUMIDITY SENSORS FOR BUILDINGS

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Background:

Humidity sensors can be used to improve indoor air quality and overall energy efficiency of buildings.
Humidity sensors, along with temperature sensors, are key components of many heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Measuring and controlling humidity levels in buildings is important for both occupant comfort and indoor air quality. Low relative humidity levels can cause human discomfort, while high relative humidity levels can contribute to the growth and spread of biological contaminants and increase the potential for condensation and water damage to building materials.  Humidity sensors are also important in HVAC control to save energy by avoiding unnecessary humidification or de-humidification of outside and recirculated air.

There are a wide variety of physical mechanisms used for sensing humidity but most low cost, low power humidity sensors used in buildings measure changes in the electrical resistance or capacitance of a sensor exposed to water vapor. In a resistive sensor, water vapor changes the electrical resistance of a hygroscopic medium such as a conductive polymer, and that change in resistance is measured. In a capacitive sensor, a thin film polymer or metal oxide is deposited between electrical conductors. The presence of water vapor changes the dielectric constant of air in contact with the polymer or metal oxide, which then changes the sensor capacitance.

Over time, both accuracy and stability can be compromised by the accumulation of indoor contaminants on the sensor and/or exposure to chemical emissions from other building materials that can change the sensor chemical composition. Heating mechanisms can be used periodically to remove some contaminants, but this increases both the cost and the power usage of the sensor.  

The Challenge:

The challenge is to identify an accurate and stable humidity sensor technology that promises performance improvements over the market’s existing sensors.  The proposed sensor must be able to measure relative humidity with an accuracy of +5% and maintain that accuracy to within +1% for a minimum period of 10 years.  Low cost technologies, low power technologies, and technologies that integrate analog-to-digital conversion are of particular interest.

While this challenge is particularly targeted to innovators who are looking to commercialize the proposed technology as a small business, emerging ideas that identify unique technology solutions to this challenge will also be considered.

This JUMP Call for Innovation requires only a written proposal. Review and consideration of ideas does not require submitters to provide ideas with documented Intellectual Property (IP). If you are concerned about protecting the potential of your IP, choose the “Invisible to other Innovators” option when submitting your idea. Choosing this submission option will enable the judges to review your ideas but will not show it openly on the JUMP website.  Choosing the “Invisible to other Innovators” will not permit the JUMP community to comment, discuss, or vote on your idea.

The Award:

Selected finalists will be invited to participate in a “mini-accelerator” program designed to help prepare the winning teams for participation in the Clean Energy Trust (CET) Challenge (http://cleanenergytrust.org/challenge/), an annual investment showcase where startups compete for $1 million in early stage funding.  The program will provide curriculum and mentoring to help participants refine their business model canvas; explore first markets and customers; and provide venture development services, including help with hiring, marketing, IP, manufacturing, and supply chain sourcing. The “mini-accelerator” will also help prepare the winning teams for other clean tech business funding competitions.

Depending on the solutions identified:

  • Argonne National Laboratory may provide in-kind technical support of $10,000 - $20,000 to enable Argonne staff to provide prototype development, testing, techno-economic analysis or other defined needs.
  • Successful JUMP winners may also elect to submit a "Request for Assistance (RFA)" for Round 3 or subsequent Rounds of the DOE Lab Impact Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot Small Business Voucher. Successful SBV requests may be provided up to $300k in the form of in-kind technical support for prototype development, testing, and other problem statements facing small businesses in the clean energy innovation space.

Ideal Submission Deadline:

Idea Submission Period Ends: July 31st, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST

Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Biomimicry Wing Humidity Sensor

Leverage key learnings from how birds/flies/butterflies/insets' wings function on detecting humidity to unlock the myth for building a sustainable (longer lifespan) and accurate humidity sensor potentially through augmenting other physical parameters that's less subjective to dirt and other interference factors, potentially collaborate with Biomimicry Institute: https://biomimicry.org, as well as this other fantastic ...more »

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9 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Stable relative humidity sensing for buildings

Our patent pending idea is to combine a relative humidity sensor with a thermal mass flow air flow sensor. A typical mass flow air sensor works by using two thermistors one which is heated and one which is not. Gas flow can be measured by determining the amount of power it takes to keep the heated sensor at a constant temperature above ambient. By integrating the heated sensor with the RH sensor the RH sensor would never ...more »

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8 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

MEMS oscillator to measure relative humidity

We propose the use of an electrostatic MEMS (Microelectromechanical system) oscillator exposed to air to measure relative humidity. As water content in air changes, this should change the MEMS air viscosity and its air’s dielectric constant. Because those changes are so small, we propose amplifying the sensor’s response by dynamically driving the sensor at its subharmonic regime (actuation at twice the natural frequency). ...more »

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7 votes
7 up votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Sensor plug-in socket for field contamination solution

On the Humidity Sensor Printed Circuit Board make the Sensor Silicon as PLUG-IN through the socket. The sensor silicon can be easily replaced as plug-in from the socket to deal with the contamination of capacitor/resistor. Also, have the sensor has the capacity of built-in self calibration(a EEPROM program that set with system clock) to periodically measure then offset the contamination from the capacity and resistor ...more »

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6 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Measurements of dew point using Peltier heat pump

Peltier effect is used for the heat pump and may drop the local temperature up to 20 degrees Centigrade. The stock of the heat sinks may drop the temperature even further. Since the HVAC temperature range is between 20-26 degrees Centigrade, this temperature lowering will allow to reach the temperature of around 0-6 degrees Centigrade. The dew temperature for 50 % humidity (slightly not comfortable) would be 12 degrees ...more »

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6 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Self-Powered and Transducer-Less Humidity Nanosensor

Innovation Summary This innovative humidity nanosensor combined two technologies: a highly hydrophilic and proton-conducting polymer and a nanowire/nanotube (NW/NT) semiconductor material with some thermoelectric properties. The NW/NT material’s area is divided in two adjacent areas: one area impregnated with a non-reactive polymer (non-reactive area) and the other area with the hydrophilic and proton-conducting polymer ...more »

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6 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Wise Choice

I would like to create, a "Platform", to connect Manufacturers, Distributors, and Installers, "Innovative", "New", "Low Cost", and "Traditional", "Products and Services", to be available to Contractors, and Consultants.

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3 votes
6 up votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

Humidity control and adjustment

I have a Net Zero house with only 2.5 air exchanges per hour. Presently I pressurize our 1946 sq ft house using a 80 CFM fan to balance exhaust fan usage. The Pressurized incoming air with an added humidity sensor could pass through a heater coil at 100 degrees and a membrane of Koi Pond Filter prior to the air register. The excess water would drain to the outside. The humidity control adjusts to outside humidity levels ...more »

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3 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) Sensing Technology

NASA developed sensors that are open-circuit single components without electrical connections. The sensors are wirelessly powered using external magnetic fields. Key advantages include: Concurrent - simultaneously measure different physical phenomena. Resilient - functional even when badly damaged. Simple - simple to fabricate. See enclosed paper by original developer Dr. Stanley Woodard of Langley Research Center ...more »

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3 votes
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Call: Clean Energy Trust Call for Innovation

A CMOS humidity sensor

We propose a Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) humidity sensor to address this challenge. CMOS is the most widely used semiconductor technology for computer chips. By integrating the sensor and the signal conditioning/processing circuit on a single chip, a CMOS humidity sensor has the advantage of low-cost, small-size and low-power. To achieve excellent long-term sensor stability, we adopt a novel sensor ...more »

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3 votes
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