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A
gas sensor is a device that detects the presence of gases
in an area, often as part of a safety system. Gas sensors can be used to detect
combustible,
flammable
and toxic
gases, and oxygen
depletion. This type of device is used widely in industry and can be found in
locations, such as on oil rigs, to monitor manufacture processes and emerging
technologies such as photovoltaic. They may be used in firefighting.

Gas leak
detection is the process of identifying potentially hazardous gas
leaks by sensors. These sensors usually raise an audible alarm to
alert people when a dangerous gas has been detected. Typical gas sensors
include infrared point sensors,
ultrasonic sensors,
electrochemical gas sensors,
and semiconductor
sensors.  Recently, infrared
imaging sensors have come into use. All of these sensors are used for a wide
range of applications and can be found in industrial plants, refineries,
waste-water treatment facilities, vehicles, and homes.

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The most common types of technologies
employed in gas sensors are provided as under:

Semi-Conductor gas sensors: Semi-conductor sensors function by
calculating the resistance change as gas is absorbed onto the surface of a
semi-conductor material. The semiconductor materials typically used are metal
oxides. The resistance measured by the sensor is proportional to the gas
concentration. Semi-conductor
sensors can be used to sense a broad gamut of gases (CFC, HCFC, HFC
refrigerants, ammonia and hydrocarbons) including combustible, toxic and
refrigerant gases. They have been known to perform better than catalytic
sensors in the detection of combustible gases at low concentrations, up to
1,000PPM. Semi-conductors have many advantages. They are economical, possess longer
life span, are sensitive yet stable and resistant to poisoning. However they
are not very suited to detecting a single gas within a mixture of gases or for
use where high concentrations of interfering gases may be present. 

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