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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issues within the device; problems could arise if there is outside interference with the sensor, or if the sensor is outdated.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. 


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!

Big Alcohol Sees Green

John Hinzmann

There is no denying that the cannabis industry is on a steep trajectory. One very telling factor about the future and marketability of cannabis and cannabis-based products can be seen in the investments being made by the alcohol industry. Here are just a few;
Constellation Brands, the makers of Corona beer, invests in a 38% share of Canopy Growth with the option to control more than 50% of Canopy Growth’s stock. Canopy Growth is Canada’s top licensed marijuana producer.

Heineken is producing a THC infused sparkling water product under their “Lagunitas” brand.

Molson Coors has partnered with the cannabis producer Hypothecary to produce cannabis infused drinks.

Adolphus Busch V, the great-great-grandson of the founder of Anheuser Busch, has launched ABV Cannabis Company. After graduating from Colorado State University, Adolphus was denied an entry level position at Anheuser Busch because of anti-nepotism rules and then turned is interests to the cannabis industry.

William Wrigley Jr., the former head of the Wrigley candy company, has launched the “Coral Reefer” cannabis brand with musician Jimmy Buffet.

Green Thumb Industries, an Illinois based cannabis cultivator started by Ben Kolver, an heir to the Jim Beam Whiskey family, has gone public in Canada.

Province Brands, Ontario, is brewing a beer from the by-products of cannabis production using new fermentation techniques. It is producing a beer with about 6.5 mg of THC.

Keith Villa, the founder of Blue Moon Brewing, has founded CERIA Beverages to produce a THC-infused, alcohol-free beer.

Although the dust hasn’t settled on the regulatory landscape of producing and marketing cannabis-infused alcohol and non-alcoholic products, the writing is on the wall.

Attention Industry Owners

CO2 Safety System Deadline is JAN 1st!!

By Universal C02 - November 30, 2017

Don't delay, Contact Universal CO2 today.  We will get your business up to compliance fast and accurately.  No more worrying about the pressing deadline and most importantly the safety of you and others.  Set up a FREE consultation today.  Get up to code now and spend the new year with less stress.

New Requirements for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Systems Used in Beverage Dispensing Applications

On January 1, 2016, the Denver Fire Department (DFD) issued a new policy regulating the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) in beverage dispensing applications. This policy was further codified with the adoption of the 2016 Denver Fire Code Amendments on March 10, 2016. This new regulation is in response to incidents in restaurants, convenience stores, breweries, and other locations around the nation involving hazardous concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) that have led to injuries and even death to customers, employees, and emergency responders. Effective January 1, 2018, existing carbon dioxide (CO2) systems used in beverage dispensing applications with more than one hundred pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) in use, located within existing buildings in the City and County of Denver shall be retrofitted and modified to comply with Denver Fire Code Section 5307. Denver Fire Code Section 1107.1.1 requires this retroactive requirement. The twenty-four (24) month period from January 1, 2016 until January 1, 2018 was intended to allow businesses with existing carbon dioxide systems sufficient time to become compliant before January 2018. Businesses that use carbon dioxide (CO2) subject to the requirements of Denver Fire Code Section 5307 shall complete one of the following by January 1, 2018 to be considered in compliance: 1. Its location shall be permitted, inspected, and approved with issuance of a DFD operational permit. 2. Its location shall be permitted with pending inspection and approval within 90 days of permit issuance. 3. It shall formally submit construction drawings and specifications to Development Services for DFD review. 4. Its location shall reduce the in-use quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) to one hundred (100) pounds or less. Businesses that use carbon dioxide (CO2) and do not comply by January 1, 2018 must apply to the Denver Fire Department for a ninety (90) day maximum Temporary Carbon Dioxide (CO2) use permit at a cost of $250.00. Per Denver Fire Code section 105.6.51: a temporary permit is required when a required permit has not been obtained. The fee for a temporary permit shall be double that of the cost of the required permit. Additionally, businesses will still need to pay any regular permit fees applicable to any required permit for retrofitting or modifying the existing carbon dioxide system. Construction drawings and specifications must be formally submitted to Development Services for fire department review prior to the expiration of a temporary permit. The Denver Fire Department may seek any available remedies authorized in the Denver Fire Code to businesses that use carbon dioxide (CO2) and fail to comply with the compliance date of January 1, 2018 and/or the temporary permit expiration date.