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Gas Sensor Evaluations in Polymer Combustion Product AtmospheresToxic gases produced by the combustion or thermo-oxidative degradation of materials such as wire insulation, foam, plastics, or electronic circuit boards in space shuttle or space station crew cabins may pose a significant hazard to the flight crew. Toxic gas sensors are routinely evaluated in pure gas standard mixtures, but the possible interferences from polymer combustion products are not routinely evaluated. The NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) has developed a test system that provides atmospheres containing predetermined quantities of target gases combined with the coincidental combustion products of common spacecraft materials. The target gases are quantitated in real time by infrared (IR) spectroscopy and verified by grab samples. The sensor responses are recorded in real time and are compared to the IR and validation analyses. Target gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen fluoride can be generated by the combustion of poly(vinyl chloride), polyimide-fluoropolymer wire insulation, polyurethane foam, or electronic circuit board materials. The kinetics and product identifications for the combustion of the various materials were determined by thermogravimetric-IR spectroscopic studies. These data were then scaled to provide the required levels of target gases in the sensor evaluation system. Multisensor toxic gas monitors from two manufacturers were evaluated using this system. In general, the sensor responses satisfactorily tracked the real-time concentrations of toxic gases in a dynamic mixture. Interferences from a number of organic combustion products including acetaldehyde and bisphenol-A were minimal. Hydrogen bromide in the products of circuit board combustion registered as hydrogen chloride. The use of actual polymer combustion atmospheres for the evaluation of sensors can provide additional confidence in the reliability of the sensor response.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Delgado, Rafael H.
(Allied-Signal Technical Services Corp. Las Cruces, NM United States)
Davis, Dennis D.
(Allied-Signal Technical Services Corp. Las Cruces, NM United States)
Beeson, Harold D.
(NASA White Sands Test Facility NM United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: JANNAF 28th Propellant Development and Characterization Subcommittee and 17th Safety and Environmental Protection Subcommitte Joint Meeting
Volume: 1
Subject Category
Instrumentation And Photography
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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