Tessathan, T., Thammasiri, C., De Silva, P., Hussain, R. et al., "Cabin-Ambient Air Exchanges and Their Relation to In-Vehicle CO2 Concentration," SAE Technical Paper 2017-01-1725, 2017, doi:10.4271/2017-01-1725.
It is common for users of commuting passenger cars in Thailand to use the vehicle’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) system predominantly in recirculation (REC) mode. This minimizes the compressor work, thereby saving fuel, and reduces dust and odor infiltration into the vehicle cabin. The car windows are rarely opened for ventilation purposes, except for exchanges at service stations such as garage entrances and tollway booths. As such, there are few opportunities for fresh air to enter the cabin with the consequent accumulation of CO2 in vehicle cabins due to occupants’ exhalations being well documented. Field experiments conducted showed that the in-vehicle CO2 concentrations could reach up to 15 times that of the ambient concentration level during typical city commutes. Preliminary experiments were also conducted to quantify the air exchanges between the cabin and the ambient when the doors are opened for occupant egression. The results indicated that the amount of air exchange depends on the prevailing wind speed and direction, the number of doors opened, and the duration of the door opening.