Practical Use of Metal Oxide Semiconductor Gas Sensors for Measuring Nitrogen Dioxide and Ozone in Urban Environments

Sensors (Basel). 2017 Jul 19;17(7):1653. doi: 10.3390/s17071653.


The potential of inexpensive Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) gas sensors to be used for urban air quality monitoring has been the topic of increasing interest in the last decade. This paper discusses some of the lessons of three years of experience working with such sensors on a novel instrument platform (Small Open General purpose Sensor (SOGS)) in the measurement of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide and ozone concentrations. Analytic methods for increasing long-term accuracy of measurements are discussed, which permit nitrogen dioxide measurements with 95% confidence intervals of 20.0 μ g m - 3 and ozone precision of 26.8 μ g m - 3 , for measurements over a period one month away from calibration, averaged over 18 months of such calibrations. Beyond four months from calibration, sensor drift becomes significant, and accuracy is significantly reduced. Successful calibration schemes are discussed with the use of controlled artificial atmospheres complementing deployment on a reference weather station exposed to the elements. Manufacturing variation in the attributes of individual sensors are examined, an experiment possible due to the instrument being equipped with pairs of sensors of the same kind. Good repeatability (better than 0.7 correlation) between individual sensor elements is shown. The results from sensors that used fans to push air past an internal sensor element are compared with mounting the sensors on the outside of the enclosure, the latter design increasing effective integration time to more than a day. Finally, possible paths forward are suggested for improving the reliability of this promising sensor technology for measuring pollution in an urban environment.

Keywords: environmental monitoring; gas sensors; metal oxide.