Methanol poisoning causes blindness, organ failure or even death when recognized too late. Currently, there is no methanol detector for quick diagnosis by breath analysis or for screening of laced beverages. Typically, chemical sensors cannot distinguish methanol from the much higher ethanol background. Here, we present an inexpensive and handheld sensor for highly selective methanol detection. It consists of a separation column (Tenax) separating methanol from interferants like ethanol, acetone or hydrogen, as in gas chromatography, and a chemoresistive gas sensor (Pd-doped SnO2 nanoparticles) to quantify the methanol concentration. This way, methanol is measured within 2 min from 1 to 1000 ppm without interference of much higher ethanol levels (up to 62,000 ppm). As a proof-of-concept, we reliably measure methanol concentrations in spiked breath samples and liquor. This could enable the realization of highly selective sensors in emerging applications such as breath analysis or air quality monitoring.
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Natural Sciences in General