This innovation is a system for gas sensing that includes an ultra-low-power MEMS (microelectromechanical system) gas sensor, combined with unique electronic circuitry and a proprietary algorithm for operating the sensor. The electronics were created from scratch, and represent a novel design capable of low-power operation of the proprietary MEMS gas sensor platform. The algorithm is used to identify a specific target gas in a gas mixture, making the sensor selective to that target gas.

The objectives achieved include the development of an ultra-low-power, lowcost, high-performance, selective MEMS gas sensor for cryogenic and energy gases, such as H2, He, CH4, and CO2. This product will have unique competitive advantages over current offerings because it uses 10 to 1,000 times less power than current commercial sensors, enabling low-cost distributed sensing in a wide variety of NASA and private sector applications. This sensor is also highly reliable, ultra-stable, and selective to single gases in mixtures, creating a combination of features that cannot be matched with other state-of-the-art technologies. Many proprietary and non-proprietary gas sensor technologies exist to monitor energy gases, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. However, none of these technologies or methods operates at the low power of this MEMS gas sensor, with selectivity, long-term stability, and reliability over a long period of time.

Novel and unique features include the new nano-TCD sensor platform; ultralow- power operation (1,000 times faster than current devices, and stability through tens of billions of measurements and over environmental temperature and RH ranges, and calibration stability for >5 years with no consumables and unprecedented selectivity. The proprietary software is original and does not reuse existing code, shareware, or code owned by a non-federal entity. The algorithm developed is the novel element added to the patented nano-TCD structure and is proprietary.

This work was done by Joseph Stetter of KWJ Engineering, Inc. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18831-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.