Closed-loop control of air supply to whole-room indirect calorimeters to improve accuracy and standardize measurements during 24-hour dynamic metabolic studies

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2023 Mar;31(3):780-788. doi: 10.1002/oby.23683. Epub 2023 Feb 14.


Objective: The aim of this study was to test proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control of air inflow rate in a whole-room indirect calorimeter to improve accuracy in measuring oxygen (O2 ) consumption ( V ̇ O 2 ) and carbon dioxide (CO2 ) production ( V ̇ CO 2 ).

Methods: A precision gas blender infused nitrogen (N2 ) and CO2 into the calorimeter over 24 hours based on static and dynamic infusion profiles mimicking V ̇ O 2 and V ̇ CO 2 patterns during resting and non-resting conditions. Constant (60 L/min) versus time-variant flow set by a PID controller based on the CO2 concentration was compared based on errors between measured versus expected values for V ̇ O 2 , V ̇ CO 2 , respiratory exchange ratio, and metabolic rate.

Results: Compared with constant inflow, the PID controller allowed both a faster rise time and long-term maintenance of a stable CO2 concentration inside the calorimeter, resulting in more accurate V ̇ CO 2 estimates (mean hourly error, PID: -0.9%, 60 L/min = -2.3%, p < 0.05) during static infusions. During dynamic infusions mimicking exercise sessions, the PID controller achieved smaller errors for V ̇ CO 2 (mean: -0.6% vs. -2.7%, p = 0.02) and respiratory exchange ratio (mean: 0.5% vs. -3.1%, p = 0.02) compared with constant inflow conditions, with similar V ̇ O 2 (p = 0.97) and metabolic rate (p = 0.76) errors.

Conclusions: PID control in a whole-room indirect calorimeter system leads to more accurate measurements of substrate oxidation during dynamic metabolic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calorimetry, Indirect / methods
  • Carbon Dioxide* / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Oxygen*
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen