An unobstructive sensing method for indoor air quality optimization and metabolic assessment within vehicles

Yue Deng, Mark Sprowls, S. Jimena Mora, Doina Kulick, Nongjian Tao, Hugo Destaillats, Erica Forzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This work investigates the use of an intelligent and unobstructive sensing technique for maintaining vehicle cabin’s indoor air quality while simultaneously assessing the driver metabolic rate. CO2 accumulation patterns are of great interest because CO2 can have negative cognitive effects at higher concentrations and also since CO2 accumulation rate can potentially be used to determine a person’s metabolic rate. The management of the vehicle’s ventilation system was controlled by periodically alternating the air recirculation mode within the cabin, which was actuated based on the CO2 levels inside the vehicle’s cabin. The CO2 accumulation periods were used to assess the driver’s metabolic rate, using a model that considered the vehicle’s air exchange rate. In the process of the method optimization, it was found that the vehicle’s air exchange rate (λ [h−1 ]) depends on the vehicle speeds, following the relationship: λ = 0.060 × (speed) − 0.88 when driving faster than 17 MPH. An accuracy level of 95% was found between the new method to assess the driver’s metabolic rate (1620 ± 140 kcal/day) and the reference method of indirect calorimetry (1550 ± 150 kcal/day) for a total of N = 16 metabolic assessments at various vehicle speeds. The new sensing method represents a novel approach for unobstructive assessment of driver metabolic rate while maintaining indoor air quality within the vehicle cabin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7202
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2 2020


  • Carbon dioxide accumulation
  • Energy expenditure
  • Indoor air quality
  • Metabolic rate
  • Passive sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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