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Sulfur Resistant Electrodes for Zirconia Oxygen Sensors

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryTerbium-Yttrium-zirconium oxide (Tb-YSZ) is high-temperature, sulfur-resistant material for manufacture of electrodes for oxygen (O2) sensors. The Tb-YSZ sensor is resistant to sulfur and other acidic compounds present in exhaust gases and offers increased lifetime, stability, and accuracy over O2 sensors on the market today.DescriptionZirconia-based O2 sensors with a Terbium-Yttrium-zirconium oxide (Tb-YSZ) electrode have tested in a high-sulfur-coal fired power plant side by side against Zirconia-based O2 sensors with a standard platinum electrode. The results of the test showed that the sensor manufactured with a Tb-YSZ electrode held up forty times longer before failure than the sensor with platinum electrodes.

Tb-YSZ can be applied as a coating to almost all zirconia-based O2 sensors and is less expensive than platinum.
  • Increased lifetime, reliability and accuracy
  • Lower cost
Applications and IndustriesO2 sensor in any combustion process in which acidic compounds like sulfur are present:
  • Power plants
  • Co-generation plants
  • Incinerators
  • Refineries
  • Automobiles
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 5,543,025
Solid state oxygen sensor
Solid state oxygen sensors are provided with a yttria-doped zirconia as an electrolyte and use the electrochemical oxygen pumping of the zirconia electrolyte. A linear relationship between oxygen concentration and the voltage arising at a current plateau occurs when oxygen accessing the electrolyte is limited by a diffusion barrier. A diffusion barrier is formed herein with a mixed electronic and oxygen ion-conducting membrane of lanthanum-containing perovskite or zirconia-containing fluorite. A heater may be used to maintain an adequate oxygen diffusion coefficient in the mixed conducting layer.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 08/06/1996
Patent 5,695,624
Solid state oxygen sensor
A potentiometric oxygen sensor is formed having a logarithmic response to a differential oxygen concentration while operating as a Nernstian-type sensor. Very thin films of mixed conducting oxide materials form electrode services while permitting diffusional oxygen access to the interface between the zirconia electrolyte and the electrode. Diffusion of oxygen through the mixed oxide is not rate-limiting. Metal electrodes are not used so that morphological changes in the electrode structure do not occur during extended operation at elevated temperatures.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 12/09/1997
Patent 6,277,256
Enhanced electrodes for solid state gas sensors
A solid state gas sensor generates an electrical potential between an equilibrium electrode and a second electrode indicative of a gas to be sensed. A solid electrolyte substrate has the second electrode mounted on a first portion of the electrolyte substrate and a composite equilibrium electrode including conterminous transition metal oxide and Pt components mounted on a second portion of the electrolyte substrate. The composite equilibrium electrode and the second electrode are electrically connected to generate an electrical potential indicative of the gas that is being sensed. In a particular embodiment of the present invention, the second electrode is a reference electrode that is exposed to a reference oxygen gas mixture so that the electrical potential is indicative of the oxygen in a gas stream.
Los Alamos National Laboratory 08/21/2001
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
Prototype - A zirconia O2 sensor with a Tb-YSZ electrode was tested in a high sulfur coal fired power plant side by side with a normal zirconia O2 sensor. The results of the test showed that the O2 sensor manufactured with a Tb-YSZ electrode held up forty times longer before failure than the normal zirconia O2 sensor with platinum electrodes. Available - for Licensing10/07/201004/04/2013

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To: Laura Barber<>