Project No: FE0003859

Robert Romanosky
Advanced Research Technology
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880 P03D
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Susan Maley
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880 P03D
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Kevin Chen
Principal Investigator
University of Pittsburgh
348 Benedum Hall, 3700 O’Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Award Date:  09/01/2010
Project Date:  08/31/2014

DOE Share: $298,395.00
Performer Share: $0.00
Total Award Value: $298,395.00

Crosscutting Research - University Training and Research

AOI[3]: Development of Metal Oxide Nanostructure-Based Optical Sensors for Fossil Fuel Derived Gases Measurement at High Temperature

Project Description

To advance the understanding of real-time gas composition analysis, NETL is partnering with the University of Pittsburgh to develop metal oxide nanostructure-based optical sensors for fossil fuel derived gas measurement at high temperatures.

Initially, a laser nanofabrication technique will be used to produce three-dimensional (3-D) structurally functional metal-oxide nanomaterials for high-temperature gas sensing. Metal oxides are of interest in materials research, due to the susceptibility in nanoengineering to produce photonic bandgaps, or wavelengths, at which photon transmission does not occur. Materials with this property are known as photonic crystals. Once the optical properties of these photonic crystals have been characterized, functional metal-oxide films will be integrated on two distinct hightemperature optical sensor platforms.

The porous metal-oxide photonic crystal will have a large surface area for gas adsorption. Changes in the photonic crystal’s surface chemistry due to gas adsorption result in changes to the refractive index, which can be interrogated remotely via transmission and reflection spectra. The bandgap and resonance wavelength of the photonic crystals will be characterized with the transmission characteristics as functions of the concentration and temperature of an introduced gas.

Second, using ultrafast laser and chemical regenerative techniques, temperature-stable fiber gratings in air-hole microstructured optical fibers as a sensor platform will be characterized. The traditional method of fabricating gratings in optical fibers fails at higher temperatures, thus, achieving a stable high-temperature platform is critical.

Both fiber Bragg gratings and long-period gratings will be produced and compared with the performance as sensor platforms. Sol-gel deposition will then be used to coat fiber grating devices with metal-oxide sensing materials. Further enhancement of sensitivity will also explore the development of fiber interferometers with and without gratings.

Thirdly, two methods of synthesizing various metal-oxide films on the inner wall of hollow-core capillary waveguides for gas sensing will be explored. Measurements will be taken using both Raman and photo-luminescence spectroscopy.

Program Background and Project Benefits

The Advanced Research Sensors and Controls Program is leading the effort to develop sensing devices, control technologies, and methods to achieve integrated and intelligent power systems. The program is led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and is implemented through Research and Development agreements with other national laboratories, industry, and academia. The program strategy is to develop robust sensing approaches using durable materials and highly automated process controls to optimize advanced power systems operation and performance.

Real-time gas composition analysis has multiple critical applications for the energy industry. The precise knowledge of fuel gas composition and key post combustion derivatives play important roles in improving energy production efficiency and reducing pollution.

The expected outcome of this project will be high-sensitivity optical sensors that can rapidly measure a wide array of fossil fuel gas species in real time for automatic control over large combustors and fuel cells. The precise and real-time knowledge of fuel gas composition and its derivatives after combustion will play an important role in improving energy production efficiency and reducing pollution.


The chemical regenerative technique has been applied to fabrication of air-hole micro-structured fiber gratings. This method is capable of economically turning a low-cost commercial off-the-shelf fiber Bragg gratings into temperature-stable gratings for use at 800 °C. Additionally, femtosecond laser fabrication was used to develop 3-D photonic crystal structure templates for metal-oxide deposition. Advanced laser instruments have also been developed for coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy.