A laser-based hydrogen (H2) sensor using wavelength modulation spectroscopy (WMS) was developed for contactless measurements of molecular hydrogen. The sensor uses a distributed feedback (DFB) laser to target the H2 quadrupole absorption line at 2121.8 nm. The H2 absorption line exhibits weak collisional broadening and strong collisional narrowing effects. Both effects were investigated by comparing measurements of the absorption linewidth with detailed models using different line profiles that include collisional narrowing effects. The collisional broadening and narrowing parameters were determined for pure hydrogen as well as for hydrogen in nitrogen and air. Performance of the sensor was evaluated and the sensor applicability for H2 measurements in a range of 0- 10 %v of H2 was demonstrated. A precision of 0.02 %v was achieved with 1 meter of absorption pathlength (0.02 %v∙m) and 1 s of integration time. For the optimum averaging time of 20 s a precision of 0.005 %v∙m was achieved. A good linear relationship between H2 concentration and the sensor response was observed. A simple and robust transmitter-receiver configuration of the sensor allows in-situ installations in harsh industrial environments.
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