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The importance of CO2 and the calibration process

By Universal C02 - June 24, 2019

Producing a fulfilling yield is everyone’s primary goal when it comes to planting/gardening, and most know that having a CO2 enrichment process allows for healthier crops, higher yields, and a rise in profit margins of 20%-40% if implemented correctly. 

The CO2 enrichment process helps plants grow faster, fuller, producing more product than a plant not getting the proper CO2 treatment. Now, yes carbon dioxide is already in the air, and part of the photosynthesis process for all plants, but with a CO2 enrichment system in place, it allows for a plentiful yield at a much quicker rate. 

With a CO2 system, it is crucial to maintaining, a steady PPM, (parts per million) to keep you and your staff safe, as well as keeping your plants growing healthy. When introducing the cultivation area to CO2 Gas, you want to start with 800-1,200 ppm. After an environmental data evaluation, you can increase CO2 from 1,200-2,000 ppm. It is not recommended to go above 2,000 ppm. 40,000 ppm can be lethal. 

During the calibration process, the CO2 enrichment and monitoring sensors will be removed and checked for issues within the device; problems could arise if there is outside interference with the sensor, or if the sensor is outdated. The CO2 sensor must be re-calibrated by the process of testing and setting the device with calibration gas, by a trained technician. If the sensor is damaged, it would be best to replace it, for the safety of your plants and project personnel.  

Universal Controls specializes in CO2 enrichment automation, CO2 laboratory monitoring as well as CO2 Beverage monitoring. We at Universal Controls, are advocates for safe workplaces throughout the U.S. We pride ourselves as a leader in CO2 safety compliance, with cultivation, laboratory and beverage applications. If you would like to know more about our solutions, give us a call, we will provide automation solutions that will help you and your business succeed. 


Global Cannabis Update

John Hinzmann

Cannabis legalization is sweeping the globe! Minds are changing around the world and every day brings news of efforts towards legalization. Here’s a list of just a few:
The National Legislative Assembly of Thailand has proposed an amendment to reclassify marijuana as medicinally legal and regulate its use. Analysts are suggesting that medicinal cannabis will be legal by the end of this year. Cannabis has been traditionally used in Thailand and its prohibition is because of Western influences. Proponents hope that presenting legalization as a return to traditions will sway public opinion.

Malaysia has abolished the death penalty for 32 offenses, including drug charges. The country’s cabinet has been discussing the benefits of marijuana and legislation decriminalizing medical marijuana is in the works.

Sri Lanka will begin cultivating cannabis for medical export and may allow the legal use in Ayurvedic practices. Ayurveda is a healing tradition begun in ancient India.

South Korea is considering amending laws to allow CBD products to be imported. NEWS FLASH! South Korea just legalized medical marijuana!

China and Japan have approved research and limited cultivation.

India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan are all discussing legalization because of the money that the industry could bring to their countries.

South Africa’s constitutional court has ruled that prohibition of the plant is unconstitutional and individuals may grow marijuana for personal use.

Mexico, in its attempts to control the violence of the illegal drug trade, has also declared the prohibition of marijuana to be unconstitutional and a violation of a person’s civil rights.

The country of Georgia has legalized marijuana possession, although cultivation and sales remain illegal.

The Philippines has passed House Resolution 180, which legalizes medical marijuana in all of its forms.
This is just a short list of the increasing global efforts towards cannabis legalization. Universal Controls is proud to be a leader in CO₂ enrichment, irrigation and nutrient delivery and controls. We applaud the courageous efforts being made towards global legalization!

The FDA Is Committed!

John Hinzmann

On November 1st the first Food and Drug Administration marijuana-based medication became available in all 50 states. The medication called “Epidiolex” was first approved by the FDA back in June for the treatment of two rare childhood epileptic conditions; Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome; conditions characterized by severe seizures. In the following published statement, the FDA has shown its commitment to further marijuana-based medication development;
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
Epidiolex is being produced by GW Pharmaceuticals in England, who despite the high price tag of the medication, $32,000.00 a year, is committed to making Epidiolex available and the CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals has issued the following statement;
"We are committed to ensuring that these patients can access this novel cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and is eligible to be covered by insurance for appropriate patients."
Although Epidiolex has only been approved for two conditions, Doctors can now prescribe the medication “off label”, meaning they are free to prescribe for conditions that are not approved, opening the medication’s availability for other conditions at a doctor’s discretion. The approval and availability of CBD is ground breaking and the FDA’s attitude towards further research and development is a gigantic breath of fresh air.

Are My CO₂ Sensors Accurate?

John Hinzmann

Universal Controls recently received a phone call from a client who was concerned about CO₂ sensor accuracy. In a facility with multiple sensors for environmental, as well as, enrichment control the sensors were all reading slightly differently. Which one is correct? The short answer; all of them. Let’s explain.

What is being measured?
Carbon dioxide detectors are manufactured, tested and rated on a sensitivity range and the level of sensitivity required depends upon the conditions and what is being measured. Carbon dioxide detectors measure CO₂ in “parts per million” (ppm) and there are different ranges of detection per meter based upon its intended use.

Why Do Sensors Read Differently?
A CO₂ sensor installed as part of an HVAC system will measure CO₂ levels for comfort in ranges from 350ppm to about 450ppm. Outside air is about 380 ppm and, according to ASHRE, a maximum indoor comfort level is about 1000ppm.

A CO₂ sensor installed as part of an enrichment system will be measuring a higher and wider range of CO₂ levels, not only for effective enrichment, but also for life safety and therefore must have a wider range of sensitivity. A level of CO₂ of about 1500ppm is an enriched environment and sensors used in this environment must not only detect the correct enrichment levels, but also warn when levels are dangerous. The maximum safe level of CO₂ in an industrial environment is 5000ppm exposure over an eight-hour period. The sensors, per building code requirements, will through a required alarm system, alert occupants that at levels greater than 5000ppm the environment is dangerous and at 10000ppm will warn occupants to evacuate. Universal Controls specifies and installs sensors that are rated to 50000ppm.
How is accuracy defined?

Accuracy is determined by repeatedly testing the sensor against a reference gas with a known ppm value. All readings are recorded, and the range of readings defines the sensor’s accuracy. The readings are expressed as either a ± (plus-minus) value in ppm or as a percentage of the measured value, or a combination of both. If a sensor is repeatedly tested with a gas of a known quantity of 10000ppm and the sensor reads between 9900ppm and 10100ppm then the reading is expressed as ± 100ppm or 2% (200/10,000). When sensors repeatedly perform within their pre-determined ranges, then they are considered accurate.

What can cause inaccuracies?

Carbon dioxide sensor inaccuracy can be caused predominantly by the following: the method of sensor calibration (field calibration versus auto-calibration, more on this in a bit), frequency of calibration, quality of manufacturing and environmental factors such as exposure to water and airborne pollutants.

Field Calibration Versus Auto-Calibration

Sensors with automatic baseline calibration (ABC) capabilities store their readings over a set interval of time, then take the lowest reading during that interval and compare it to the natural occurring CO₂ in the atmosphere (about 400ppm). The sensor is programmed to believe that 400ppm is around the lowest reading, thus if its lowest reading in its memory is more-or-less than 400ppm, then the sensor corrects its readings. Auto-calibration only works in environments that naturally reach around 400ppm or equal too outside air.

Using auto-calibrated sensors in an enriched environment is NOT recommended. The CO₂ levels will vary greatly over time and there is no guarantee that the lowest level stored in sensor memory will be close to 400ppm, thus leading to potentially large inaccurate readings. Universal Controls specifies and installs high quality, field calibrated CO₂ sensors that have been tested by our trained engineers to provide our customers with the utmost in accurate enrichment, as well as, completely code compliant and safe working conditions. Universal Controls wants to help your business be productive, compliant, fun and safe!

Universal Controls is Growing!

John Hinzmann

Universal Controls is expanding its services! Not only are we the industry leader in carbon dioxide enrichment and beverage monitoring, but we now offer bulk CO₂ tank filling services. To better serve our customers Universal Controls has thoughtfully invested in a trans-filling tank and we are proud to offer, not only our high-quality design and installation services, but we now also offer the same attention to quality and safety in our CO₂ trans-filling service. We are excited to provide this new service with our certified, fully tested equipment and expertly trained service technicians.We cannot wait to be your CO₂ supplier. Give us a call!