Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



Semiconductor sensors have been important environmental gas detectors since the 1990s, and are commonly used to detect hydrogen, oxygen, alcohol vapor, and even harmful gases such as carbon monoxide. A gas chromatography approach is a well-proven and compact separation technique to identify and quantify multiple compounds in a complex background such as a true natural gas environment. Real time field monitoring implementing classical GC and standard sensors (FID, PID, etc.) have a lot of limitations due to its bulky size, heavy weight, and high maintenance. In this study, we developed a portable instrument through the utilization of novel solid-state sensors for real-time identification and quantification of target compounds in natural gas, which include hydrogen sulfide, benzene, mercaptans, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, vinyl chloride, and trimethylarsine. The initial phase of this project was devoted to the development of our portable device prototype, and its testing in methane background. Specific detection limits both in methane and in air for each of the gas components, together with the other specifications, were explored. The result of these first tests was the successful detection and quantification of our compounds of interest diluted in 99% methane. Now that the device has been tested in methane background, the goal of this project is to calibrate and test the prototype device in a true natural gas environment.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Ph.D.


Chemistry | Physics