ICL-based mid-infrared carbon dioxide sensor system for deep-sea natural gas hydrate exploration
For deep-sea natural gas hydrate exploration, highly sensitive detection of the dissolved gas in seawater near the seabed is significant because it requires the sensor system to be small in size, low in power consumption, and high in sensitivity. A mid-infrared sensor system was developed to detect dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in sea-water, while employing a 4319 nm continuous-wave interband cascade laser (ICL) and a multi-pass gas cell (MPGC) with a 29.8 m optical path length. A compact rectilinear optical structure was proposed by using the free-space-emitting ICL and tunable laser absorption spectroscopy (TLAS). This leads to a minimized sensor size and a simple optical alignment for deep-sea operation. A strong CO2 absorption line, located at 2315.19 cm−1 and a weak 2315.28 cm−1 line and at a low pressure of 40 Torr, was targeted for low- and high-concentration CO2 detection within a concentration range of 0-1000 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) and 0-40 parts per million by volume (ppmv), respectively. The limit of detection (LoD) was assessed to be 0.72 ppbv at an averaging time of 2 s, and the response time was measured to be ~30 s at a flow rate of ~180 standard cubic centimeters per minute (sccm). Deployment of the CO2 sensor combined with a gas-liquid separator was carried out for the CO2 detection in the gas extracted from water, which validated the reported sensor system’s potential application for deep-sea natural gas hydrate exploration.