Carbon dioxide sensor

A carbon dioxide sensor or CO2 sensor is an instrument for the measurement of carbon dioxide gas. The most common principles for CO2 sensors are infrared gas sensors (NDIR) and chemical gas sensors. Measuring carbon dioxide is important in monitoring indoor air quality, the function of the lungs in the form of a capnograph device, and many industrial processes.

Nondispersive Infrared (NDIR) CO2 Sensors

See also: Capnography

NDIR sensors are spectroscopic sensors to detect CO2 in a gaseous environment by its characteristic absorption. The key components are an infrared source, a light tube, an interference (wavelength) filter, and an infrared detector. The gas is pumped or diffuses into the light tube, and the electronics measures the absorption of the characteristic wavelength of light. NDIR sensors are most often used for measuring carbon dioxide.[1] The best of these have sensitivities of 20–50 PPM.[1] Typical NDIR sensors cost in the (US) $100 to $1000 range.

New developments include using microelectromechanical systems to bring down the costs of this sensor and to create smaller devices (for example for use in air conditioning applications). NDIR CO2 sensors are also used for dissolved CO2 for applications such as beverage carbonation, pharmaceutical fermentation and CO2 sequestration applications. In this case they are mated to an ATR (attenuated total reflection) optic and measure the gas in situ.

Another method (Henry's Law) can be also be used to measure the amount of dissolved CO2 in a liquid, if the amount of foreign gases is insignificant.

Chemical CO2 sensors

Chemical CO2 gas sensors with sensitive layers based on polymer- or heteropolysiloxane have the principal advantage of a very low energy consumption, and can be reduced in size to fit into microelectronic-based systems. On the downside, short- and long term drift effects as well as a rather low overall lifetime are major obstacles when compared with the NDIR measurement principle.[2] Most CO₂ sensors are fully calibrated prior to shipping from the factory. Over time, the zero point of the sensor needs to be calibrated to maintain the long term stability of the sensor.[3]


See also


  1. 1 2 Carbonate Based CO2 Sensors with High Performance, Th. Lang, H.-D. Wiemhöfer and W. Göpel, Conf.Proc.Eurosensors IX, Stockholm (S) (1995); Sensors and Actuators B, 34, 1996, 383–387.
  2. Reliable CO2 Sensors Based with Silicon-based Polymers on Quartz Microbalance Transducers, R. Zhou, S. Vaihinger, K.E. Geckeler and W. Göpel, Conf.Proc.Eurosensors VII, Budapest (H) (1993); Sensors and Actuators B, 18–19, 1994, 415–420.
  3. Co2 Auto-Calibration Guide
  4. KMC Controls. (2013). Demand Control Ventilation Benefits for Your Building. Retrieved 25 March 2013, from
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