Technology Offers

Flameless real-time capable miniature sensor for measuring the concentration of hydrocarbon (HC)


The purely electrical sensor technology is compact, robust, low-maintenance and flameless. It is not necessary to carry flammable carrier gases, which is why the sensor is especially qualified for moving motor vehicles (Real Driving Emissions, RDE).


So-called “Real Driving Emissions” (RDE) will be implemented as part of the Euro-6d-temp legislation. In the medium-term, the focus is expected to also turn to unburned hydrocarbons (HC), which is one of the reasons why suitable sensors are desirable.


Conventional measurement systems such as flame ionization detectors (FIDs) used to define the concentration of hydrocarbon in gases require a supply of hydrogen and a flame. For this reason, FIDs cannot be used in a vehicle when it is running for safety reasons alone. Other measurement systems usually work with low measurement frequencies, so these are not suitable for measurements in vehicles either.


At the University of Applied Sciences Karlsruhe, a sensor for measuring the level of hydrocarbon content in gases has now been developed which largely eliminates the above-mentioned drawbacks. This new kind of sensor contains an electric glow plug whose temperature is much lower than the flame which is used in the established state-of-the-art procedure (flame ionization detector, FID), but which is still able to cause an ion formation from hydrocarbons which is detected and correlated with the HC concentration.

The sensor can also be equipped in such a way that different types of ions, for example more reactive and more inactive hydrocarbons, are recorded so that it is possible to define their respective levels in the flow of gas.

Furthermore, a fusion of the sensor with series sensor systems (e.g. lambda sensors) can be carried out, which helps optimize combustion processes.


  • Flameless system, purely electrical operation
  • No storage of flammable carrier gases required
  • Robust
  • Low-maintenance, low wear
  • Compact, low assembly space requirements
  • Fast measuring, real-time capable
  • Low thermal inertia, high measurement dynamics
  • User-friendly controls
  • Particularly suitable for use in running vehicles
  • Wide range of other applications possible

Fields of application

Measurement of the concentration of hydrocarbons (HC) in gases, on the one hand for use in combustion processes such as in vehicles, gas power plants or ship propulsion, on the other hand to monitor systems such as fuel tank ventilation systems, biogas plants or landfill plants in which hydrocarbons occur.

This innovative sensory principle is robust, low-maintenance and flameless. The storage of flammable carrier gases such as hydrogen is not necessary, which is why the sensor is particularly suitable for use in running vehicles.

Dr. Frank Schlotter
Ettlinger Straße 25
76137 Karlsruhe | Germany
Phone +49 721-79004-0
schlotter(at) |
Development Status
Validated / TRL4
Patent Situation
DE102018212089A1 pending
EP3598120A1 pending
Reference ID
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro GmbH is responsible for the exploitation of this technology. It offers companies the possibility of cooperation and assists them in obtaining licenses.