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Testing Of Carbon Monoxide And Carbon Dioxide Sensors With Simple Apparatus In An Engineering Education Laboratory

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Novel Measurement Experiments

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1175.1 - 14.1175.16



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Paper Authors


Dale Litwhiler Pennsylvania State University, Berks

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Dale H. Litwhiler is an Associate Professor at Penn State, Berks Campus in Reading, PA. He received his B.S. from Penn State University (1984), his M.S. from Syracuse University (1989) and his Ph.D. from Lehigh University (2000) all in electrical engineering. Prior to beginning his academic career in 2002, he worked with IBM Federal Sys-tems and Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems as a hardware and software design engineer.

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Barbara Lombardi Universidad Simón Bolívar

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Barbara Lombardi is a materials engineer with specialization in ceramics at Universidad Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela. She completed her degree with a research project with honors at Penn State Berks, PA, USA. She served as aerodynamics assistant for the Formula-SAE team at Simon Bolivar University during the 2005-2006 period.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Testing of Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide Sensors with Simple Apparatus in an Engineering Education Laboratory


As part of a summer internship in materials engineering, the characteristics of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors were investigated. These gases were chosen for this work because of the materials used in the sensors and their importance in environmental testing and monitoring applications, both indoor and outdoor. The work was performed in an electrical engineering laboratory facility which lacked sophisticated chambers for testing gas sensors. Homemade chambers were constructed from readily available components. Commercially available probes for the measurement of CO and CO2 were purchased and used as the reference devices for the testing and calibration of the sensors under test. Gases for testing each sensor were obtained from common sources. Conditioning electronics for each sensor were constructed per the manufacturer’s datasheets and applications notes. Data acquisition software was written using LabVIEW™ to create virtual instruments for each sensor. This paper presents the motivation for investigating CO and CO2 sensor performance and applications. The sensor test chamber design considerations and the actual chamber design are also presented and discussed. The problems and safety concerns associated with using CO and CO2 are provided together with the safe handling methods employed during this investigation. Methods for obtaining the required test gases are presented. The sensor signal conditioning hardware is also provided. Experimental results and future applications of this work are presented and discussed. This paper presents materials and methods that can be implemented in an engineering education laboratory environment with minimal investment yet still produce satisfactory results.


Measurement and control of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas levels in the environment is very important for human health and the health of our planet. A summer internship for an international student created the opportunity to develop some creative and simple apparatus for testing CO and CO2 sensors in an electrical engineering laboratory setting.

Neither the engineering laboratory nor any other laboratory on campus was equipped with the appropriate chambers for testing such devices. A source for the test gases was also a problem. Such small quantities of each gas were needed and the budget constraints were such that it was not feasible to purchase the gases from a commercial supplier. The gas handling equipment such as fittings, regulators, etc., is very costly regardless of the amount of gas purchased. Therefore, a homemade chamber was fabricated from household components and test gases were obtained from very common sources.

Litwhiler, D., & Lombardi, B. (2009, June), Testing Of Carbon Monoxide And Carbon Dioxide Sensors With Simple Apparatus In An Engineering Education Laboratory Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4958

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