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Different Types of Calibration Gases: What To Know

Uncategorized / October 10, 2023

Precision is crucial in ensuring safe and efficient operations for a multitude of industrial sectors. One area where this precision is paramount is in calibrating gas detection equipment. Understanding the different types of calibration gases plays a pivotal role in setting up your own equipment correctly. Check out our guide on what to know about these gases so that you can ensure your devices have the ideal calibration resources.

What Are Calibration Gases?

Calibration gases are specific mixtures of gaseous components used as comparative references in calibrating analytical instruments, such as gas detectors. Calibration gases help adjust the sensitivity of these instruments, thereby enabling them to provide accurate readings. Think of this calibration process like a trained dog searching for a missing individual—providing the dog with an item that smells like the person in question helps it detect similar scents throughout the environment!

Various industries use gas detectors and calibration gases to monitor and maintain safe working conditions. For instance, the oil and gas industry uses them to detect possible leaks or hazardous gas levels in refineries and drilling sites. Similarly, emergency services, such as fire departments, utilize these detectors to identify potentially harmful gases in fire and rescue situations. Within this context, there are three primary types of calibration gases: zero, single, and span calibration gases.

Zero Calibration Gases

A zero calibration gas is a pure, inert gas that lacks the target gas an instrument intends to detect. This gas type is a baseline, allowing the instrument to establish a zero reference point. By doing this, it can accurately measure the presence or absence of the target gas in any given sample. For example, nitrogen and helium are commonly used as zero calibration gases. They provide a clean, stable environment against which the instrument can compare samples containing the target gas.

Single Calibration Gases

A single calibration gas contains a known concentration of one specific gas. It is used to calibrate instruments designed to detect that particular gas. A single calibration gas is used to ensure the instrument responds correctly when exposed to the target gas. For instance, if an instrument is designed to detect carbon monoxide, a single calibration gas containing a known concentration of carbon monoxide would be used. This allows the instrument to accurately measure the level of carbon monoxide in a given environment. Other common single calibration gases include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.

Span Calibration Gases

Span calibration gases are mixtures of different gases. They are typically used to calibrate instruments that can detect multiple gases simultaneously. The constituent gases of a span calibration mixture are present at known concentrations, which allows the instrument to adjust its sensitivity for each gas. For example, a span calibration gas may contain a mixture of methane, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide. This mixture would be used to calibrate an instrument capable of detecting all three gases.

Understanding the different types of calibration gases allows you to find the ideal product for your gas detector. Browse our selection of calibration gas at CTI to instantly improve the safety of your working environment.