The promise of new air

Measuring air quality exactly where and when we breathe it - that's the service Mobil'Air will be offering. Modular sensors capable of measuring CO2 levels, the nature of particles and atmospheric pressure. All contained in a miniaturized case that can be carried or placed anywhere.

Choosing your jogging or cycling route to work based on air quality is just one of the applications that Mobil'Air could enable. " Initially, in the post-Covid context, the idea was to create a module to measure CO2 levels in classrooms," explains Maxime Bigot, workshop leader on the OB.i.Lab platform at IUT Montpellier-Sète. The project was proposed to Nathan Grau, a student in physical measurements, as part of an internship carried out between April and June 2021. "He eventually came back with this concept of a mobile sensor that is modular and adaptable to needs."

To the initial C02 sensor, Maxime Bigot and his colleague François Fabre have coupled a sensor capable of measuring the diameter of particles between 1 and 10 microns. " These range from pollen, dust and cement to the larger particles emitted mainly by construction sites," explains Bigot. Then there are sensors for climatic conditions: temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and even luminosity. "The idea is to work on a tailor-made offer, enabling users to choose the sensors they wish to integrate into their box.

Mobil mayor

Once started up, each sensor can take a measurement every five minutes and associate it with the user's GPS position. The data is then stored on an SD card and downloaded to a computer to generate a map of air quality in the areas traversed. The advantage of this mobile sensor is that it can be installed on a bicycle or a vehicle, but tracking movements still raises a few safety issues that we need to work on," stresses Maxime Bigot. The slightly crazy challenge we set ourselves with the students is to get the mayor, Michaël Delafosse, to install one on his bike."

While waiting to install one on their bikes, politicians are already interested in this innovation made in IUT, as the prototype is currently being tested in the commune of Saint Georges d'Orques. Deployment in the Montpellier area is also envisaged. They won't be used in their mobile version, but for fixed use," explains Maxime Bigot. Thanks to these sensors, local authorities will be able to check the impact of the ecological measures they take at a precise point in time. And these are not just empty words.

Awakening innovation with OB.i.Lab

Opened in 2016 on the model of Anglo-Saxon Fab Labs, the OB.i.Lab hall offers students and teachers at IUT Montpellier-Sète the chance to give free rein to their creativity, thanks to the support of two specialist facilitators - Maxime Bigot and François Fabre - and the self-service availability of various machines: 3D printers, laser engravers. Services are also available for companies. "The name was chosen by Philippe Combette, who initiated the project. OB- stands for object, and -i- for intelligent. Finally, -Obi- is Japanese for a belt, which at IUT represents the very close link between the academic and professional worlds," explains Maxime Bigot. It sums up very well what we do!