Abstract

Nitrogen-based fertilizers have been used in modern agricultural activities resulting in a relevant emission source of nitrogen gases into the atmosphere, mainly nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Furthermore, the burning of fossil fuels is the most significant emission source of NOx (i.e., NO + NO2), being the controlling of vehicle exhaust system an essential task. Those compounds can be related to air pollution effects either directly, by emitting a powerful greenhouse gas (i.e., N2O), or indirectly, by formation of nitric acid (HNO3) or ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) from NO or NO2, responsible for the increase of acid rain and particulate material into the atmosphere. This context requires appropriate sensor technology facilitating in situ and simultaneous monitoring of nitrogen emitted gases, with easiness of operation and compact dimensions. In this communication, we describe an innovative mid-infrared chemical sensor platform for the in situ, real-time, and simultaneous quantification of gaseous NO, NO2, and N2O by combining a compact Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer with the so-called substrate-integrated hollow waveguide (iHWG) as a miniaturized gas cell. The optical platform enabled limits of detection of 10, 1, and 0.5 ppm of NO, NO2, and N2O, respectively. The linear concentration range evaluated in this study is suitable for the application of the sensing platform in vehicle exhaust air samples. Given the high adaptability of the developed infrared sensing device toward preconcentration or ultraviolet conversion modules and also considering the potential for combining tunable interband cascade lasers (ICLs) in lieu of the FT-IR spectrometer, we anticipate the application of the sensing platform for in situ determination of nitrogen gases in a wide range of scenarios.

© 2018 The Author(s)

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