by Mariah Valerie Barber
Oak Ridge National Library, the largest US Department of Energy science research laboratory has created new low-cost wireless sensor technology that can be used to monitor the energy consumed by commercial buildings (Ornl.gov). Currently, buildings consume 40% of all energy being consumed in the United States. Most commercial buildings poorly monitor and control their energy consumption. For example, systems in commercial buildings such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electricity often are under controlled and unmonitored. These new sensors have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20-30% (Physics.org).
The sensors use technology that prints circuits, sensors, antennae, and photovoltaic cells and batteries onto very thin and flexible plastic sheets with adhesive peel-and-stick on the back of it. In addition to being able to be printed and installed in buildings very easily, the sensors are extremely low-cost. The sensors require very little power and are entirely wireless. They are to be stuck with the adhesive glue on the back of them to various walls throughout the building. They monitor for outside air, room temperature, humidity, light level, occupancy, and pollutant. They collect data on each factor that they are monitoring and then send that data a main receiver, which receives data from all the other sensors placed in the building. Since they are wireless they are extremely easy to install and place throughout a building.
These ORNL sensors are extremely cheap, ranging from $1-10 per sensor. Currently, the wireless sensors that are available commercially cost around $150 to $300.
As of now the ORNL’s sensors are not available for purchase or commercial use, but the ORNL and the US Department of Energy are in the process of negotiating with developers and international electronic manufactures in order to create an agreement so that these sensors can become widely available commercially (Physics.gov).
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (http://www.ornl.gov/about-ornl)