Gas sensors measure the concentration of gas in their vicinity, and are used across various end-use industries. There have been numerous developments in gas sensing technology, primarily on account of the advent of embedded electronics, and enhanced manufacturing techniques. Gas sensors prove to be highly effective in measuring gas concentrations in the event of a leak.
The global gas sensors market was estimated at USD 1,700.5 million in 2012, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2014 to 2020.
Notable industry trends include the use of wireless gas sensors, which help in detecting toxic or flammable gases at safe distances. In addition to being used in hazardous environments, wireless gas sensors can also be installed at lower costs as compared to their conventional counterparts. The proliferation of handheld devices has led to developments in the field of smart gas sensors, which has considerably widened their application scope. Need for ensuring safety in workplaces is expected to be the key driving force for the market over the next six years. Regulations in developed markets of North America and Europe mandate the use of these sensors in potentially hazardous environments. Process and manufacturing industries involve the use of various toxic and combustible gases including hydrogen sulfide and nitrogen dioxide. Continual monitoring the concentration of these gases using sensors supports in averting any possible mishaps.
Key product segments analyzed and reported in the study include oxygen (O2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), NOx and other sensors. Other sensors primarily comprise methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen, and hydrocarbon sensors.
Oxygen sensors are also referred to as Lambda sensors; they detect the concentration of oxygen in the vicinity. This is particularly useful in the automotive space, where they monitor oxygen concentration in the vehicle’s exhaust; therefore, growing vehicle production is expected to give impetus to global product demand. Furthermore, they can be equipped in the engine management system in order to control the fuel/air mix.
Carbon dioxide sensors witness high demand from the bulk food storage sector. They work using infrared gas sensing and chemical gas sensing technologies, and are essential in industrial process besides helping detect developing spoilage. Carbon monoxide sensors also work using infrared technology and are used in applications such as industrial, food storage and packaging, etc.
Similar to oxygen sensors, NOx sensors are majorly used in the automotive sector so as to ensure that NOx emissions meet regulatory compliances. They are expected to be the fastest growing product segment, at an estimated CAGR of 6.2% from 2014 to 2020.
Major technology segments analyzed in the report include electrochemical, semiconductor, solid state/metal oxide semiconductor (MOS), PID (Photoionization detectors), catalytic, and infrared among others.
Other technologies include paramagnetic and thermal conductivity.
Electrochemical gas sensors facilitate toxic gas concentration detection by oxidizing the target gas at the electrode and measuring the resultant current. The amount of gas present is directly proportional to the current generated. Electrochemical sensor demand can be attributed to their use in applications such as indoor air quality, emission control, landfill gas detection, etc.
However, they are not suitable for low temperature or high pressure conditions. They are primarily preferred since they can detect multiple gases and use minimal power while ensuring reliability and cost effectiveness.
Semiconductor gas sensing technology based sensors measure the change in resistance of the semiconductor material; they are cost efficient and detect toxic and combustible gases. Since they are ideal for use in a number of industries and provide benefits including resistance to corrosion and longer life, semiconductor technology based sensors accounted for considerable market share in 2012.
Infrared gas sensing technology supports measurement of a wide variety of gases including methane, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as acetylene, benzene, butane, etc. However, the cost of these sensors is significantly high as compared to electrochemical sensors, with estimated prices of USD 250 to USD 300 per product. The absence of a chemical reaction helps in longer life span of these devices, as a result of which they are expected to grow at a rate higher than the global average over the forecast period.
End-use industries that employ gas sensors include medical, building automation and domestic appliances, environmental, petrochemical, automotive, industrial, and others. Other end-use industries mainly include educational institutes as well as R&D labs. T
The primary use of gas sensors in the medical sector is for the measurement of VOCs, which may have adverse short-term and long-term health effects. They are used in monitoring the concentration of oxygen in anesthesia gas in incubators as well as ventilators. Furthermore, they help detect carbon monoxide levels in lung function tests, as well as NOx levels in inhaled nitric oxide therapy.
The industrial segment is expected to continue dominating the global industry in the coming years, and monitor manufacturing processes in addition to preventing gas leakages. Government mandates to ensure occupational health and safety of workers is expected to be the primary driving force for this segment.
Gas sensors in automotives help improve comfort and safety applications; additionally, the use of hydrogen in hybrid vehicles is expected to favorably impact overall demand.