Fuel cell sensors rely on an electrochemical process that oxidizes the alcohol in a breath sample and produces an electrical current that the breathalyzer measures to determine the BAC.
A fuel cell consists of two platinum electrodes that are partitioned by a porous acid-electrolyte material. As exhaled air passes through the fuel cell, the platinum oxidizes any alcohol present and produces acetic acid, protons and electrons. The electrons flow through a wire from the platinum electrodes and reveal the BAC. The strength of the current corresponds to the volume of alcohol present in the sample.
Higher Accuracy and Longer Life
Breathalyzers with fuel cell sensors maintain accuracy over a much longer period of time and are more likely to produce the same test result in repeated, uninterrupted tests than semiconductor devices. Fuel cell-based testers also require significantly less-frequent recalibration than semiconductor sensors – up to 1,500 tests or once a year – and regular use of a fuel cell breathalyzer can actually help maintain the accuracy of the fuel cell, as moisture in exhaled human breath is beneficial to the sensor.
Unlike semiconductor models, a fuel cell sensor will not produce a false positive for individuals who are diabetic or on a low calorie diet. Semiconductor devices can also react to cigarette smoke, breath acetone, and volatile chemicals such as hairspray and gasoline vapor, and give positive alcohol readings even when no alcohol is present.
BACtrack Professional Breathalyzers with Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology
BACtrack Mobile, BACtrack S80 Pro, BACtrack Trace, and BACtrack Element models with Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology offer extremely high accuracy and sensitivity. Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology uses a linear response to measure BAC over the complete range of alcohol concentrations, from 0.000-0.400 %BAC. Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology also offers extended sensor life for long-term reliability.