Miniature low-cost inline calorific value sensor for natural gas and biogas

Arjen Boersma, TNO (NL)

The need for transition towards a sustainable energy supply will result in an increase of the production of biogas. A significant part of the biogas will be fed into the distribution grids for natural gas. Furthermore gas is imported from different sources all over the world, through pipelines and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). Both biogas and LNG have a deviating composition related to the traditional sources in The Netherlands, such as the Dutch Slochteren gas and North Sea gas.
The currently available gas quality measuring systems (e.g. GC, Wobbe Index analyzer, etc.) cannot fulfill the need for a cost-effective inline measuring method. For that reason, TNO started the development of a new type of gas sensor, based on gas sensitive coatings on an electronic platform. New coating formulations were developed that selectively can absorb the target gas and consequently will give rise to a change in material behavior (i.e. dielectric constant). This change in material properties is monitored using capacitive comb electrodes. Combining the response of multiple sensor chips makes it possible to simultaneously obtain the concentrations of the individual components of the target gas. Subsequently the calorific value of the gas mixture can be calculated.
We will present the recent progress with respect to the steps taken into miniaturization of the electrodes and electronics, the development of the chemically responsive coatings and coating application processes, and the result of the testing and characterization of the sensor system in gas mixtures of methane, ethane, propane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. We will show that miniaturization of the sensor system not only enables the integration in gas flows, but also leads to higher accurate measurement results.


Pen Profile

Arjen has a PhD in polymer physics at the Technical University Delft on the dielectric properties of polymers and blends in order to resolve the microstructure and composition.
He is a senior scientist at TNO in material development for geo-energy. Polymer nanocomposite materials for gas and liquid composition sensing for oil and gas production and transport; durability assessment for polymer materials in extreme conditions; understanding and prevention of scaling in oil and gas wells. Currently, his focus is on the development and miniaturization of low cost electronic and optical chemical sensors suitable for monitoring the gas composition in natural gas and LNG.


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