SiC-FET Gas Sensors Developed for Control of the Flue Gas Desulfurization System in Power Plants Experimental and Modeling Experimental and Modeling
Abstract: Electricity and power generation is an essential part of our life. However, powergeneration activities also create by-products (such as sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides,carbon monoxide, etc), which can be dangerous when released to the atmosphere.Sensors, as part of the control system, play very vital role for the fluegas cleaning processes in power plants. This thesis concerns the development ofSilicon Carbide Field Effect Transistor (SiC-FET) gas sensors as sensors for sulfurcontaining gases (SO2 and H2S) used as part of the environmental control systemin power plants. The works includes sensor deposition and assembly, sensinglayer characterization, operation mode development, performance testing of thesensors in a gas mixing rig in the laboratory and field test in a desulfurization pilotunit, and both experimental and theoretical studies on the detection mechanismof the sensors.The sensor response to SO2 was very small and saturated quickly. SO2 is a verystable gas and therefore reaction with other species requires a large energy input.SO2 mostly reacts with the catalyst through physisorption, which results in lowresponse level. Another problem was that once it finally reacted with oxygen andadsorbed on the surface of the catalyst in form of a sulfate compound, it is desorbedwith difficulty. Therefore, the sensor signal saturated after a certain timeof exposure to SO2. Different gate materials were tested in static operation (Pt,Ir, Au), but the saturation phenomena occurred in all three cases. Dynamic sensoroperation using temperature cycling and multivariate data analysis could mitigatethis problem. Pt-gate sensors were operated at several different temperatures in acyclic fashion. One of the applied temperatures was chosen to be very high for ashort time to serve as cleaning step. This method was also termed the virtual multisensor method because the data generated could represent the data from multiplesensors in static operation at different temperatures. Then, several features of thesignal, such as mean value and slope, were extracted and processed with multivariatedata analysis. Linear Discrimination Analysis (LDA) was chosen since itiiiallows controlled data analysis. It was shown that it was possible to quantify SO2with a 2-step LDA. The background was identified in the first step and SO2 wasquantified in the second step. Pt sensors in dynamic operation and 2-step LDAevaluation has also demonstrated promising results for SO2 measurement in thelaboratory as well as in a desulfurization pilot unit. For a commercial sensor, algorithmhave to be developed to enable on-line measurement in real time.It was observed that Ir-gate sensors at 350oC were very sensitive to H2S. The responseobtained by Ir sensors to H2S was almost five times larger than that of Ptsensors, which might be due to the higher oxygen coverage of Ir. Moreover, Irsensors were also more stable with less drift during the operation as a result ofhigher thermal stability. However, the recovery time for Ir sensors was very long,due to the high desorption energy. Overall, the Ir sensors performed well whentested for a leak detection application (presence of oxygen and dry environment).The geothermal application, where heat is extracted from the earth, requires thesensor to be operated in humid condition in the absence (or very low concentration)of oxygen, and this poses a problem. Temperature cycle operation and smartdata evaluation might also be an option for future development.Along with the sensor performance testing, a study on the detection mechanismwas also performed for SO2 sensor, both experimentally and theoretically. The experimentincluded the study of the species formed on the surface of the catalystwith DRIFT (diffuse reflectance infrared frourier transform) spectroscopy and theanalysis of the residual gas with mass spectroscopy. Explanatory investigation ofthe surface reactions was performed using quantum-chemical calculations. Theoreticalcalculations of the infrared (IR) vibration spectra was employed to supportthe identification of peaks in the DRIFT measurement. Based on the study on theresidual gas analysis and quantum-chemical calculations, a reaction mechanismfor the SO2 molecule adsorption on the sensor surface was suggested.
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