Extruded colour-based plastic film for the measurement of dissolved CO2

Andrew Mills, Dilidaer Yusufu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Dissolved CO2 measurements are usually made using a Severinghaus electrode, which is bulky and can suffer from electrical interference. In contrast, optical sensors for gaseous CO2, whilst not suffering these problems, are mainly used for making gaseous (not dissolved) CO2 measurements, due to dye leaching and protonation, especially at high ionic strengths (>0.01 M) and acidity (<pH 4). This is usually prevented by coating the sensor with a gas-permeable, but ion-impermeable, membrane (GPM). Herein, we introduce a highly sensitive, colourimetric-based, plastic film sensor for the measurement of both gaseous and dissolved CO2, in which a pH-sensitive dye, thymol blue (TB) is coated onto particles of hydrophilic silica to create a CO2-sensitive, TB-based pigment, which is then extruded into low density polyethylene (LDPE) to create a GPM-free, i.e. naked, TB plastic sensor film for gaseous and dissolved CO2 measurements. When used for making dissolved CO2 measurements, the hydrophobic nature of the LDPE renders the film: (i) indifferent to ionic strength, (ii) highly resistant to acid attack and (iii) stable when stored under ambient (dark) conditions for >8 months, with no loss of colour or function. Here, the performance of the TB plastic film is primarily assessed as a dissolved CO2 sensor in highly saline (3.5 wt%) water. The TB film is blue in the absence of CO2 and yellow in its presence, exhibiting 50% transition in its colour at ca. 0.18% CO2. This new type of CO2 sensor has great potential in the monitoring of CO2 levels in the hydrosphere, as well as elsewhere, e.g. food packaging and possibly patient monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date29 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2016


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