Theory for a gas composition sensor based on acoustic properties

Scott Phillips, Yefim Dain, Richard M Lueptow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Sound travelling through a gas propagates at different speeds and its intensity attenuates to different degrees depending upon the composition of the gas. Theoretically, a real-time gaseous composition sensor could be based on measuring the sound speed and the acoustic attenuation. To this end, the speed of sound was modelled using standard relations, and the acoustic attenuation was modelled using the theory for vibrational relaxation of gas molecules. The concept for a gas composition sensor is demonstrated theoretically for nitrogen-methane-water and hydrogen-oxygen-water mixtures. For a three-component gas mixture, the measured sound speed and acoustic attenuation each define separate lines in the composition plane of two of the gases. The intersection of the two lines defines the gas composition. It should also be possible to use the concept for mixtures of more than three components, if the nature of the gas composition is known to some extent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-75
Number of pages6
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Acoustic attenuation
  • Speed of sound
  • Ultrasonic sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics

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