Measurements of CO and CO2 in an automobile exhaust

Program Code: 

Dr Sean O'Byrne (

Description of Work: 


This project aims to develop an automobile exhaust sensor using diode laser absorption spectroscopy of the CO and CO2 molecules in a motor vehicle while the vehicle is being driven. This capability can be used to determine whether the engine is running too lean or too rich and, if implemented in each branch of the exhaust manifold, can make measurements sufficiently quickly to resolve the processes occurring during each part of the 4-stroke internal combustion cycle. Such a sensor can be used to keep the engine operating at peak and can sense when the engine operation needs to be tuned over the lifetime of a vehicle.

Description of Work:

  • Develop computational models of the absorption process and quick-fitting routines to determine temperature and species concentrations in the vehicle exhaust.
  • Implement a diode-laser-based sensor using a vertical cavity surface-emitting laser that can measure exhaust composition and temperature in a car while it is running, at frequencies in excess of 100 Hz.
  • Compare the output of the sensor to standard methods of measuring exhaust composition.