AIP Digital Archive
Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
A simple and economical method to determine the overall purity of inert gases such as Ar and He is described which uses the filament of commercial light bulbs. The lifetime of the incandescent filament is sensitive to gas impurities such as O2, H2O, and some hydrocarbons, but insensitive to N2 and, to first order, to the applied voltage. The relationship between the filament lifetime, τ, and the O2 and H2O concentrations was carefully calibrated. The relationship follows a power law: τ=AC−γ, where A and γ are positive constants depending on the impurity type. For mixtures of O2 and H2O, a simple superposition rule for the overall lifetime, τoverall, as 1/τoverall = 1/τO2 + 1/τH2O, applies. A mechanism for the concentration dependence of the filament lifetime is proposed in which the creep of the filament is enhanced by the impurity solutes in the filament. With a lifetime spanning from a few seconds to a few days, the filament acts as a simple gauge for the determination of impurity concentrations in an inert atmosphere. As an example, for O2, the measurable concentrations vary from 105 ppm to 10−2 ppm. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.
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