Considerations of thermodynamics and kinetics for the effects of relative humidity on the electrolyte in electrochemical toxic gas sensors

Michael L. Hitchman, John R. Saffell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, the physical chemistry of the absorption and desorption of water vapor for electrochemical gas sensors with commonly used sulfuric acid as the electrolyte is investigated. Electrochemical gas sensors are being increasingly used for monitoring toxic gases in the environment, and they are, in principle, simple devices, but in practice, their operation is complex. In particular, changes in atmospheric humidity and temperature can have significant effects on the sensor output. A model has been developed for the calculation of sensor weight changes as humidity varies, which are in good agreement with the analysis of experimental results. This then allows for the calculation of the rather more important electrolyte volume variations. Changes in acid molarity and physical characteristics of the electrolyte have also been determined. The effects on working electrode (WE) electrocatalytic activity are discussed, and potential problems with sensors for environmental monitoring are highlighted. In particular, changes in the electroactive area of the WE and, consequently, of the sensor output, and flooding of the WE catalyst aggregates which can lead to problems with electrolyte leakage from sensors are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3985-3993
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sensors
Volume6
Issue number11
Early online date21 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • electrochemical gas sensors
  • air quality
  • relative humidity
  • electrolyte thermodynamics
  • water uptake
  • water evaporation
  • kinetic effects

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