First Technology tackles in-car air quality

MARCH 13–SOUTHFIELD, Mich.–First Technology, a maker of automotive products, has introduced an air quality module (AQM) that measures the quality of air that enters a vehicle via the heating and cooling (HVAC) system and issues a signal indicating pollution levels.

The controls for the heating and cooling system can then automatically go into re-circulate mode, rather than bringing more dirty air into the vehicle.

A vehicle’s heating and cooling system receives outside air, but currently most don’t do much to filter the noxious gases from the air entering the vehicle. Since it is well documented that exhaust fumes directly affect driver and occupant health and alertness, a proactive re-circulation system is necessary.

The First Technology AQM has the capability of detecting gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. It can even detect the smell of a skunk before the human nose can react to it. Once the AQM notices a change for the worse, it automatically provides a pollution level signal to the car’s HVAC controls. The HVAC system will close the re-circ vent to block this air from entering the vehicle. As air quality improves, the AQM will recognize this quickly and the vent can be reopened to prevent stuffiness. Automatic detection and operation mean that the driver gains protection from pollution without being distracted.

A recent study performed by the University of Wales Swansea compared the First Technology AQM to other devices available on the market today. The products were tested side by side to compare each detector’s performance in the presence of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels, first alone, then as combined gases, as would be typical in traffic concentrations. The overall conclusion found that the First Technology Air Quality Module performed “significantly better” in detection of combined noxious gases, the kind of street-level pollution most commonly found.


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