Article

Applied Physics B

, Volume 106, Issue 4, pp 987-997

Wavelength-modulation-spectroscopy for real-time, in situ NO detection in combustion gases with a 5.2 μm quantum-cascade laser

  • X. ChaoAffiliated withHigh Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University Email author 
  • , J. B. JeffriesAffiliated withHigh Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
  • , R. K. HansonAffiliated withHigh Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

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Abstract

A mid-infrared absorption strategy with calibration-free wavelength-modulation-spectroscopy (WMS) has been developed and demonstrated for real-time, in situ detection of nitric oxide in particulate-laden combustion-exhaust gases up to temperatures of 700 K. An external-cavity quantum-cascade laser (ECQCL) near 5.2 μm accessed the fundamental absorption band of NO, and a wavelength-scanned, 1f-normalized WMS with second-harmonic detection (WMS-2f/1f) strategy was developed. Due to the external-cavity laser architecture, large nonlinear intensity modulation (IM) was observed when the wavelength was modulated by injection-current modulation, and the IM indices were also found to be strongly wavelength-dependent as the center wavelength was scanned with piezoelectric tuning of the cavity. A quantitative model of the 1f-normalized WMS-2f signal was developed and validated under laboratory conditions. A sensor was subsequently designed, built and demonstrated for real-time, in situ measurements of NO across a 3 m path in the particulate-laden exhaust of a pulverized-coal-fired power plant boiler. The 1f-normalized WMS-2f method proved to have better noise immunity for non-absorption transmission, than wavelength-scanned direct absorption. A 0.3 ppm-m detection limit was estimated using the R15.5 transition near 1927 cm−1 with 1 s averaging. Mid-infrared QCL-based NO absorption with 1f-normalized WMS-2f detection shows excellent promise for practical sensing in the combustion exhaust.