Thermochemical humidity detection in harsh or non-steady environments

Devon Bridgeman, Francis Tsow, Xiaojun Xian, Qinan Chang, Yongming Liu, Erica Forzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We present a new method of chemical quantification utilizing thermal analysis for the detection of relative humidity. By measuring the temperature change of a hydrophilically-modified temperature sensing element vs. a hydrophobically-modified reference element, the total heat from chemical interactions in the sensing element can be measured and used to calculate a change in relative humidity. We have probed the concept by assuming constant temperature streams, and having constant reference humidity (~0% in this case). The concept has been probed with the two methods presented here: (1) a thermistor-based method and (2) a thermographic method. For the first method, a hydrophilically-modified thermistor was used, and a detection range of 0–75% relative humidity was demonstrated. For the second method, a hydrophilically-modified disposable surface (sensing element) and thermal camera were used, and thermal signatures for different relative humidity were demonstrated. These new methods offer opportunities in either chemically harsh environments or in rapidly changing environments. For sensing humidity in a chemically harsh environment, a hydrophilically-modified thermistor can provide a sensing method, eliminating the exposure of metallic contacts, which can be easily corroded by the environment. On the other hand, the thermographic method can be applied with a disposable non-contact sensing element, which is a low-cost upkeep option in environments where damage or fouling is inevitable. In addition, for environments that are rapidly changing, the thermographic method could potentially provide a very rapid humidity measurement as the chemical interactions are rapid and their changes are easily quantified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1196
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Detection
  • Harsh
  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Infrared
  • Rapid
  • Sensor
  • Thermal
  • Thermochemical
  • Thermography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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