Just as industrial gases are at the heart of so many industries, so too are gas analysis and control technologies.

From automotive to aerospace, energy to environment and pharmaceuticals to petrochemistry, the requirement to analyse gases and molecules is ubiquitous. And the rigours of gas analysis and control continue to escalate as the quest for purity, safety and efficacy intensifies and compliance grows ever-tighter.

As arguably the most fundamental of gases to sustain life, and yet an oxidising agent that can have negative consequences in many industrial applications, oxygen is the subject of imperative analysis for very different reasons. In some instances, such as in a medical content, that analysis is to ensure oxygen supply is at the required levels or purity; in other examples like manufacturing operations, it is to ensure it oxygen is not contaminating the process behind a product’s manufacture. In the case of the latter, by using an oxygen gas analyser capable of measuring down to ppm (parts-per-million) levels, any residual oxygen can be detected and either eradicated or counteracted.

Within the gases industry itself, gas control equipment can be found throughout air separation plants, on-board trucks and trailers, at cylinder filling sites, in the laboratory, and more. All of which renders the technologies developed by the industrial and specialty gas and equipment business essential.

“Even when dealing with a single gas such as oxygen, there are a range of analyser technologies…”

Analyser technologies

Even when dealing with a single gas such as oxygen, there are a range of different analyser technologies that might be used, depending on the application and its needs.

For example, oxygen can be measured using Coulometric, Paramagnetic, Zirconia or Tunable Diode Laser (TDL) technology, depending on circumstances. None of these sensing technologies is a ‘best’ solution. Each has its merits according to factors such as the background gases present and the measured concentration. The same is true for other gases in air separation processes, and for the industrial gas market as a whole. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Cambridge Sensotec has been manufacturing its Rapidox range of gas analysers for over 18 years. The company initially specialised in zirconia oxygen analysis, before expanding into electrochemical, IR and TCD multigas analysis. First developed nearly 10 years ago, the Rapidox 1100 oxygen gas analyser continues to be the company’s best-selling and most versatile oxygen instrument, due to its speed and accuracy of measurement, ease of use, calibration and ultra-long life sample pump.

The Rapidox 1100 gas analyser range includes a choice of oxygen sensors designed for measuring ppm levels to 100% gas, within inert atmospheres or gases containing VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), suiting a wide range of applications. For example; gloveboxes, welding, monitoring inert atmospheres within solder reflow ovens, additive manufacturing, medical and food packaging testing applications and metal heat treatment amongst others.

Oxygen-analyser

Source: Cambridge Sensotec

The flagship Rapidox 1100 oxygen gas analyser is being relaunched in November 2018 with a new look, new features and fully upgraded software (pictured). The updated Rapidox has a new OLED screen which now delivers improved visibility from every angle, with four lines of information displayed. Additionally, for low ppm oxygen gas measurements, the Rapidox 1100Z zirconia models now include an updated, superior zirconia planar sensor, providing faster and more accurate trace oxygen measurements. The internal pressure sensor compensates for small changes in gas pressure to ensure that the readings remain stable. A bespoke powerful long-life pump draws in a gas sample at a flow rate set by the user.

Trends

As with so many aspects of industry, the gas analysis business is responding to two wider trends – doing more with less, and the irrepressible movement of digitisation.

In terms of the latter, this can arguably be seen in the relaunched Rapidox 1100 analyser; with the use of an Ethernet adaptor, the new Rapidox can be connected directly to a network and accessed remotely via a PC in the same network or over the internet. The updated Rapidox software allows the user to turn their PC into a giant remote Rapidox display emulator. This is particularly useful for applications where the analyser is based in a remote laboratory and needs to be monitored from another part of the building or anywhere with an internet connection.

When it comes to doing more with less, other new features of the new analyser include an enhanced calibration allowing up to five separate test gases to be used instead of the standard three, and variations of the standard Rapidox which include a three-channel multiplex version, allowing for three gas streams to be sampled from separate points.