A brief history about gas detectors

2023-01-11 10:41

For life in the atmosphere, more and more harmful gases are appearing in our lives, and at this point, gas detectors come into their own, allowing the use of sensors in gas leak detectors to allow you to identify potentially dangerous substances that cannot be seen or smelled.

And while there are many commercially available sensor technologies that can easily and quickly detect harmful gases in the air today, this has not always been the case. The history of gas leak detection is full of fascinating stories about the different ways people have used to find out if an area is filled with toxic gases or other substances. Read on to learn more.

In the beginning, during the Industrial Revolution, coal miners in the 19th and early 20th centuries used the first methods of gas detection. At first, they invited a man to wear a wet blanket and carry a wick lit on fire. They would move the lit wick along the walls of the mine, and if there was a pocket of methane gas, the wick would ignite. The damp blanket kept the tester safe most of the time. However, sometimes large amounts of methane can cause an entire area to be engulfed in flames. When the mining industry realized that using humans as portable gas leak detectors was too dangerous, they sought other methods.

The next method involved canaries. Canaries were chosen because the part of their nervous system that controls breathing is very similar to that of humans. Canaries are also known for their cacophony of sounds. Miners bring canaries into the mine tunnels in aviaries. They would check the songbirds regularly. When canaries start shaking their cages or stop singing, this signals to the miners that methane is present and they need to evacuate the area immediately.




The first portable gas detection device, the flame safety lamp, was invented by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1815. The lamp has an oil flame that can be adjusted to certain heights to freshen the air. The flame is contained in a glass casing with three horizontal cutouts and a mesh flame arrestor. This prevents the flame from being ignited by the outside atmosphere.

In areas where fresh air is plentiful, miners will always light the flame in the middle. If the flame lowers or begins to die down, the miners know the area is oxygen depleted because the fire needs oxygen to stay alive. If the flame gets higher, they know that the area contains methane because methane is rich in oxygen. Many industries across the United States still use gas lamps to ensure the safety of today's work environment.

The modern era of gas detection began with the creation of the catalytic sensor by Dr. Oliver Johnson in 1926. The sensors detected mixtures of combustible elements in the air to prevent explosions in fuel storage tanks. The first gas detection company, Johnson-Williams Instruments, was founded in 1928 in Palo Alto, California. The company had many innovations in gas detection, including portable oxygen detectors and instruments that simultaneously detected vapors, gases and oxygen.

The first portable gas detection monitor used an analytical valve to measure the amount of methane in the atmosphere. Detection of methane was achieved through a catalytic diffusion sensor that would burn the gas inside. Today, portable gas detectors can be used to detect carbon monoxide and many other dangerous gases, and often use batteries to keep the equipment running longer than ever before.

Today, gas detectors have evolved over these decades to include more series and principles of related products, and the gas detection principles covered in the brief history above are in a more rudimentary and basic form. At present, there are many kinds of gas detection methods and principles around the world, for example, the gas detector based on tunable semiconductor laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) principle has the characteristics of fast response time and accurate measurement. The gas detector developed and produced by Wuhan Shengnuo Instruments Co., Ltd. adopts the TDLAS principle and can be used in a variety of industrial gas analyzer scenarios, for example, in ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen fluoride detection can achieve accurate measurement to prevent gas escape.


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