A portable instrument incorporates both mass spectrometry and dew point measurement to provide real-time, quantitative gas measurements of helium, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide, along with real-time, quantitative moisture analysis.

The first prototype of the Portable Dew Point Mass Spectrometer system.
The Portable Dew Point Mass Spectrometry (PDP-MS) system comprises a single quadrupole mass spectrometer and a high vacuum system consisting of a turbopump and a diaphragm-backing pump. A capacitive membrane dew point sensor was placed upstream of the MS, but still within the pressure-flow control pneumatic region. Pressure-flow control was achieved with an upstream precision metering valve, a capacitance diaphragm gauge, and a downstream mass flow controller. User configurable LabVIEW software was developed to provide real-time concentration data for the MS, dew point monitor, and sample delivery system pressure control, pressure and flow monitoring, and recording. The system has been designed to include in situ, NIST-traceable calibration.

Certain sample tubing retains sufficient water that even if the sample is dry, the sample tube will desorb water to an amount resulting in moisture concentration errors up to 500 ppm for as long as 10 minutes. It was determined that Bev-A-Line IV was the best sample line to use. As a result of this issue, it is prudent to add a high-level humidity sensor to PDP-MS so such events can be prevented in the future.

This work was done by C. Arkin, Stacey Gillespie, and Christopher Ratzel of ASRC Aerospace Corporation and Mary Whitten of the University of Central Florida for Kennedy Space Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. KSC-13316