The development of materials for use in
solid-state gas sensors has been the goal of considerable scientific
and technical effort in recent years. Commercial gas sensors based
on thin films have insufficient stability and grain size control
for long-term use. Japanese and US companies do offer quite reliable
and advanced solid state gas sensors for some domestic and industrial
applications, but they are inadequate for use in long-term emissions
monitoring. Recent investigations indicate that nano-sized particles
may be the key to resolving these technical difficulties.
This project used sol-gel processes and
laser pyrolysis to develop gas sensors with nano-sized materials.
Sensors, designed for use in automotive air-conditioning systems,
can detect 1-100 ppm CO and 1-10 ppm NO. Advantages include the
ability to create stable systems with low power consumption operating
at low temperatures with good response times.
Partners say commercial production has
already started in Germany and the new sensors are beginning to
replace similar Japanese products. Potential areas of future application
include automotive combustion processes, industrial and domestic
gas and oil burners and emissions management in natural areas.