Detection of sulfur dioxide at low parts-per-million concentrations using low-cost planar electrodes with ionic liquid electrolytes
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a toxic gas at low parts-per-million (ppm) concentrations, with a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 2 ppm. Its detection is mandatory, particularly in the fields of occupational health and safety, and environmental pollution. In this work, ppm concentration detection of sulfur dioxide was performed in six room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs), as well as on two different electrode materials – platinum and gold – and with two different electrode geometries, i.e. macro thin-film electrodes (TFEs) and microarray thin-film electrodes (MATFEs). Calibration curves were established for 10–200 ppm SO2 using cyclic voltammetry to determine the optimum combination of RTIL, electrode surface and geometry for the sensing. The RTIL 1-butyl-1-methylpyrrolidinium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonium)imide ([C4mpyrr][NTf2]) with a platinum thin-film electrode was found to give the best response due to the relatively low viscosity of the RTIL combined with the high sensitivity and a clean blank response. On MATFEs, deposited sulfur particles – confirmed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled to an energy dispersive spectrometer – were found to passivate and block some of the microholes, leading to unstable long-term chronoamperometric responses. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first observation of sulfur deposition from SO2 reduction in aprotic ionic liquids. Consecutive additions of 2 ppm SO2 were studied in [C4mpyrr][NTf2] on a TFE using long-term chronoamperometry, showing excellent reproducibility upon successive additions. This demonstrates that small volumes of RTILs can be combined with miniaturized, low-cost TFEs and applied for the reliable and continuous monitoring of sulfur dioxide gas at concentrations lower than the permissible exposure limit of 2 ppm.
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