The flame ionization detector (FID) is a standard instrument used in industry for measuring hydrocarbon (HC) gas concentration such as methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), acetylene (C2H2) etc. , but its response is either poor or nil to compounds such as H2S, CCl4, or NH3. It is mass sensitive, not concentration sensitive; hence, changes in carrier gas flow rate have little effect on the detector response. It is preferred for general hydrocarbon gas analysis with varying detection ranges.
The sample to be analyzed is mixed with a special burner fuel, hydrogen (H2), hydrogen plus helium (He) or hydrogen plus nitrogen (N2). Ions and electrons that were formed in the flame enter the electron gap, decrease the gap resistance and thus permit a current to flow into the external circuit. The current is proportional to the rate of ion formation which depends on the hydrocarbon concentration in the gases and is detected by a suitable electrometer and displayed on an analogue output. The FID gives a rapid, accurate and continuous reading of total HC concentration for levels as low as ppb.
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