Infrared Gas Detector Working Principle

Infrared (IR) gas detection method is based on the absorption of infrared radiation of a specific wavelength through a given amount of gas. Usually two infrared light sources and an infrared detector measure the intensity of two different wavelengths, one at the absorption wavelength and one outside the absorption wavelength. If the gas gets between the source and the detector, the level of radiation falling on the detector will be reduced. Gas concentration is determined by comparing the relative values between the two wavelengths. This is a dual-beam infrared gas detector.

infrared gas detector

Infrared gas detection is based upon the ability of some gases to absorb IR radiation. Many hydrocarbons absorb IR at approximately 3.4 micrometers and in this region H2O and CO2 are relatively transparent. As mentioned earlier, there are some hydrocarbons and other flammable gases that have poor or no response on a general purpose IR sensor. In addition to aromatics and acetylene, hydrogen, ammonia and carbon monoxide also cannot be detected using IR technology with general purpose gas sensors of 3.4 micron specifications.

infrared gas sensor

The major advantages of infrared gas detector:

Immunity to contamination and poisoning.

Consumables (source and detector) tend to outlast catalytic sensors.

Can be calibrated less often than a catalytic detector.

Ability to operate in the absence of oxygen or in enriched oxygen.

Ability to operate in continuous presence of gas.

Can perform more reliably in varying flow conditions.

Even when flooded with gas, will continue to show high reading and gas sensor will not be damaged.

Able to detect at levels above 100 % LEL.


The limiting factors in IR technology:

The initial higher cost per point. infrared gas detector typically is more expensive than catalytic detector at initial purchase.

Higher spare parts cost.

Gases that do not absorb IR energy (such as hydrogen) are not detectable.

High humidity, dusty and/or corrosive field environments can increase IR detector maintenance costs.

Temperature range for detector use is limited compared to catalytic detectors.

May not perform well where multiple gases are present.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart