Electronic nose (E-nose) technology provides an easy and inexpensive way to analyse chemical samples. In recent years, there has been increasing demand for E-noses in applications such as food safety, environmental monitoring and medical diagnostics. Currently, the majority of E-noses utilise an array of metal oxide (MOX) or conducting polymer (CP) gas sensors. However, these sensing technologies can suffer from sensor drift, poor repeatability and temperature and humidity effects. Optical gas sensors have the potential to overcome these issues. This paper reports on the development of an optical non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) E-nose, which consists of an array of four tuneable detectors, able to scan a range of wavelengths (3.1-10.5 μm). The functionality of the device was demonstrated in a series of experiments, involving gas rig tests for individual chemicals (CO2 and CH4), at different concentrations, and discriminating between chemical standards and complex mixtures. The optical gas sensor responses were shown to be linear to polynomial for different concentrations of CO2 and CH4. Good discrimination was achieved between sample groups. Optical E-nose technology therefore demonstrates significant potential as a portable and low-cost solution for a number of E-nose applications.
Keywords: chemical analysis; electronic nose; gas rig testing; non-dispersive infrared; odour fingerprints; tuneable optical sensor.