Types of Breathalyzer Sensors

by Dan Christie January 11, 2016

Types of Breathalyzer Sensors

A breath analyser. You’ve probably seen it on TV or in your favourite movie. Maybe you even saw it being used by a police officer who once asked your friend to stop and take a test to determine alcohol consumption. You probably already know what it looks like, but do you know how it actually works?

A Breathalyzer is a device used by authorities to test the level of alcohol consumption of a person driving a vehicle. This instrument is very important because it will indicate if a person is fit to drive or not — especially today when a lot of accidents on the road are caused by drink driving.

A breathalyzer has different types and purposes. It has different sensors that work in different ways. Here are the common types that you’ll find in the market:

  • Semiconductor Breathalyser. A semiconductor breath analyser is a very affordable type. It is relatively new but its accuracy is fine. Compared to other types of Breathalyzers, the semiconductor is cheaper because it requires lower power consumption. Also, it tends to be less accurate than other Breathalyzers. But when you use it for personal use, this model proves to perform well, too. How does it work? The semiconductor model carries out an interior response of ethyl alcohol. This alcohol is exhaled and generates an electric current, which is assumed as relative to the quantity of alcohol found in the person’s blood.
  • Fuel cell Breathalyzer. This type of Breathalyzer is the type used by police authorities. It is very reliable and provides the most accurate reading. It offers high sensitivity and is very portable, and it can also be used in the court as legal evidence. How does it work? The fuel cell tester measures the amount of alcohol through a chemical reaction. In this reaction, the alcohol is oxidised and an electrical current is produced. More alcohol translates to a greater current. This current is used to measure Blood Alcohol Content or BAC.
  • Spectrophotometer Breathalyzer. A spectrophotometer is a large and expensive piece of equipment set up at police stations. It used to be the only Breathalyzer accepted as legal evidence in the court. It provides accurate results once conditions are controlled properly. How does it work? This equipment uses the infrared technology to define intoxication. Different types of molecules are tested based on how they react and absorb infrared light. These molecules will be measured to determine the alcohol level of a person.




Dan Christie
Dan Christie

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