Application of Cluster Analysis to Examine the Performance of Low-Cost Volatile Organic Compound Sensors

Jakub Kolarik*, Nadja Lynge Lyng, Rossana Bossi, Rongling Li, Thomas Witterseh, Kevin Michael Smith, Pawel Wargocki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Airtight energy-efficient buildings of today need efficient ventilation to secure high indoor air quality. There is a need for affordable and reliable sensors to make demand control available in a broad range of ventilation systems. Low-cost metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors offer such a possibility, but they are usually non-selective and react to broad range of compounds. The objective of the present paper was to use cluster analysis to assess the ability of five commercially available MOS VOC sensors to detect pollutants in a residential setting. We studied three scenarios: emissions from people (human bioeffluents), furnishing materials (linoleum), and human activity (surface cleaning with spray detergent). We monitored each scenario with five MOS VOC sensors and a proton-transfer-reaction–time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-ToF-MS). We applied an agglomerative hierarchical clustering algorithm to evaluate the dissimilarity between clusters. Four of the five tested sensors produced signals in agreement with the concentration patterns measured with the PTR-ToF-MS; one sensor underperformed in all cases. Three sensors showed a very similar performance under all emission scenarios. The results showed that the clustering could help in understanding whether a particular sensor matched the intended emission scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2070
Issue number8
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Indoor air quality
  • MOS VOC sensor
  • Residential ventilation
  • Cluster analysis


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