MSU Engineers to Develop Indoor Air Quality System

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A team of engineers at Michigan State University is developing a new technology, called AirSense, which warns homeowners of problems with indoor air quality, identifies sources of pollution, and suggests steps to fix any issues. 

Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State, is leading the team that is developing the new technology. He says AirSense, which works as an intelligent, home-based indoor air quality monitoring and analytics system, is designed to increase people’s awareness of their air quality and help manage it in their homes.

“Different pollution sources generate different types of pollutants in different ways,” Zhang says. “For example, oil-based cooking could generate remarkable amounts of harmful airborne particulate matter in a very short period of time that stay in the air for a long time. Household products such as disinfectants and pesticides contain and release numerous volatile organic compounds. Our technology leverages these differences to identify the source and forecast pollution levels to estimate the seriousness of the problem.”

Data from the technology, which can be viewed on a smartphone, will include a detailed weekly indoor air quality profiling report, which can help people better understand how their household activities impact air quality.

Zhang says the technology could be particularly useful for people who are vulnerable to poor air quality, such as the elderly and children with asthma.  

Although currently designed for home use only, AirSense could eventually be applied in public spaces such as office buildings, shopping malls, and subway stations. Zhang says the engineering team hopes the technology will be available to the public soon. 

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