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Galvanic detection of sulfur dioxide in ambient air at trace levels by anodic oxidation

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Author: Lindqvist, F.
Institution: Instituut voor Milieuhygiëne en Gezondheidstechniek TNO
Source:Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association, 2, 28, 138-142
Identifier: 228366
Keywords: Sulfur dioxide · Air analysis · Air pollution · Methodology


A continuous method for the measurement of SO2 in ambient air at trace levels is described. The principle of detection is based on the anodic oxidation of SO2 in a galvanic cell. A differential measuring technique with a cell with two anodes and one cathode is used; background and noise current are low and stable. A feature of the measuring system is that the air sample is passed through a porous anode against a head of electrolyte on the other side of the anode. The minimum values for the time constant and the lower detection limit were 3 seconds and about 3 μg/m3, respectively. The selectivity of the method was compared with those of other techniques in field testing. Trace concentrations measured by the galvanic method in the range from 12 to 135 μg/m3 were in good agreement with those of the flame photometric and the West-Gaeke method. With a Pt/Ni2B/graphite anode the mean oxidation efficiency was 94 ± 2% on the basis of 2 faraday/mol of SO2 within the tested concentration range of 50 to 560 μg/m3. During a field test no decrease in the anode activity was observed over a period of ten months. Examples are given for the galvanic detection of other compounds using porous measuring electrodes. Chemicals/CAS: sulfur dioxide, 7446-09-5