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A Microcontroller Based, Low Cost Oxygen Gas Controller for Medical

M. Burunkayaa; I. Gulera
Department of Electronic and Computer Education, Gazi University, Teknikokullar, Ankara, Turkey

To cite this Article Burunkaya, M. and Guler, I.(2006) 'A Microcontroller Based, Low Cost Oxygen Gas Controller for
Medical Purposes', Instrumentation Science & Technology, 34: 5, 509 — 527
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/10739140600806039
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10739140600806039


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Instrumentation Science and Technology, 34: 509–527, 2006
Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN 1073-9149 print/1525-6030 online
DOI: 10.1080/10739140600806039

A Microcontroller Based, Low Cost Oxygen

Gas Controller for Medical Purposes
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M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

Department of Electronic and Computer Education, Gazi University,
Teknikokullar, Ankara, Turkey

Abstract: In this work, an oxygen gas concentration controller circuit is designed and
implemented for use in medical applications such as incubator environments. Since the
air of the incubator environment is dried during the control processes, oxygen gas flow
is humidified by the designed ultrasonic nebulizer. A polarographic type oxygen gas
sensor was used. A signal conditioning circuit was developed to capture the required
voltage levels. Control processes have been performed by a high speed PIC micro-
controller. Set values can be entered either via an embedded control circuit or via a
keyboard. The system is linear, sensitive, and relative error is only about 21 O2%.
All of the parts of the system are renewable. As a result, a low cost and effective
microcontroller based circuit, modular in structure, has been provided.

Keywords: Gas concentration measurement, Oxygen gas control, Polarographic type

sensor, Clark sensor, MPLABw, PIC microcontroller


There are many oxygen (O2) meters. However, the need for controlling O2
levels in any environment, such as in industry or for medical purposes, has
grown continuously.
A low cost, small, disposable or continuously usable oxygen gas sensor is
needed for patient observation, gas level determination in anesthesia, during
the surgical operation to be able to observe oxygen levels in blood. Thus,
there are research and development studies aimed at making small size

Address correspondence to Prof. I. Guler, Technical Education Faculty, Department

of Electronic and Computer Education, Gazi University, 06500 Teknikokullar, Ankara,
Turkey. E-mail: iguler@gazi.edu.tr

510 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

sensors and to make them suitable for mass production. This situation caused
the development of many specific oxygen sensors.[1 – 3] High pressure and
high temperature levels are required for some of the O2 sensors to work, so
that it is not suitable for measurents in ambient conditions. Since some of
these sensors are not suitable for continuous measurement, there have been
some studies to develop sensors for continuous observation.[1] Since the
lifetimes of some of these sensors are short, their costs might be very
expensive.[4] In addition to the sensor selection for the designed measurement
circuit, design and construction of the proper controller unit is another
important task. There are many types of controller circuits that are used,
e.g., fuzzy logic, PID, etc., control methods. For example, a fuzzy logic
control method cannot be effectively realized without a computer and a data
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acquisition (DAQ) card.[5] Due to the sensor construction, developed

systems can easily be used for measurement of dissolved oxygen in electro-
lytes. This is especially important when continuously observing O2 levels in
patients’ blood or respiratory gases.[6] Although the pulse oximeter method
is better than these methods, it is highly expensive and cannot be used for
determinations in tumor tissues.[7]
In this study, a low cost oxygen gas concentration controller system that
can measure continuous oxygen gas levels in any limited or unlimited volume
of medical environments, or in liquids, was developed. First, the sensor which
provides the above requirements was constructed and, then, the polarographic
type sensor has been used.[6] As the sensor produces a current which depends
on O2% (partial pressure of oxygen) level, this current is converted to a
voltage by a current-to-voltage converter. Second, zero and span adjustment
of the O2 measurement circuit was realized by a signal conditioning
circuit.[8] Control processes were achieved by a high performance, high
speed peripheral interface controller (PIC). Set values can be entered,
without any limitation, in the range of 0 – 100 O2%. Oxygen gas is supplied
by an oxygen tank. The outputs of the circuits are optically isolated for
system safety and reliability.[9]


A low cost, effective oxygen gas concentration controller that can be used for
medical purposes is required to be developed for the health of a patient, so that
the best sensor was determined. First, oxygen sensors were researched
generally. Then, their features, structures, and the required polarization
methods were researched for providing proportional voltage levels that
depend on the physical value. Then, a high speed and high performance con-
troller circuit was developed with isolation included. Then, the developed
system and a PC were combined to communicate with each other by using
an RS 232 protocol. Then, performance tests of the developed system were
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 511

O2 Sensors

There are many types of oxygen analyzers for use with continuous
processes.[2] Classified, working principles and usage limiting factors of
these are discussed in the following.

Paramagnetic Analyzers

Paramagnetic analyzers (also called “thermal magnetic”) use a combination of

two techniques: thermal conductivity and paramagnetics. Measurements can
be performed using the magnetic properties of oxygen molecules. In the O2
molecule, two unpaired electrons provide a strong paramagnetic condition.
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For the sensor to be able to work, a current is passed through the sensor
and, then, the sensor is heated. The heater raises its temperature, thereby
reducing the magnetic property of the O2 molecules. Its use is not practical.[2,8]

Oxygen Sensor using Electrochemical Principles

High-temperature, solid-state oxygen sensors are particularly well suited for

monitoring of air-to-fuel ratios in fossil fuelled combustion systems and
control of oxygen partial pressure in various industrial processes. Measure-
ment methods of these sensors involve the measurement of the mobility of
the oxygen ions in zirconia versus the temperature. Measurements can be
obtained only in a high level of temperature environment.[1,2,8] Sensors
normally include a built-in resistive temperature detector (RTD), or
platinum/rhodium thermocouple, to compensate for temperature effects.
These types of sensors can measure low concentrations, up to 2% O2.
Response time is about 5 s and accuracy is typically O2% þ 0.1% O2.[10]
The measurement principle of another type of electrochemical sensor
involves the diffusion of the oxygen molecules at ambient temperature. This
depends on the voltage level applied to the sensor. Oxygen molecules are trans-
ferred, electrochemically, from the cathodic to the anodic side of the cell.[1,2,10]
In addition to these sensors, explained above, a fiber optic sensor is used
for measurement processes. Generally, a fiber optic sensor is suitable for low
levels of O2 measurement.[3] So, it cannot be used for O2 gas measurement if
the concentration of O2 gases are higher than 21%.

Clark Cell Model Sensor

Clark cell sensors are polarographic types which are a specific type of electro-
chemical sensors. There are two kinds of electrochemical sensors, i.e., galvanic
and non-galvanic. Galvanic sensors gives voltage levels at the output in direct
proportion to the O2 level. Conversely, a non-galvanic sensor can provide
output current indirectly if only polarization voltages are supplied to it.
512 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

According to the some investigators, it is improper to use the name “polaro-

graphic” instead of the name “non-galvanic” sensors.[6] Although response
time of the first produced polarographic type sensor is long (20 – 30 s), today,
it is relatively fast (10 s), linear, cheap, and the offset value is low.[8]
This type of sensor can be used for measuring O2 gas levels in solid-state
materials, in the atmosphere, or for dissolved O2 levels in electrolytes. The
most distinguishing properties of this sensor is that a membrane, a solution,
and an Ag – AgAgCl electrode is used for measurements.[11] For instance,
since a membrane is permeable to O2, the sensor can also be used for measure-
ment of O2 in blood.[6] During surgical operations, continuous observation of
O2 levels in a patient’s blood or respiration gases is necessary in a hospital
because blood samples taken for laboratory analysis takes too long a time.
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In addition to these, it can also be used for diagnosing tumor tissues.[12]

Clark cells with silicone base, which can be placed in as small a volume as
a standard catheter tube for continuous measurement, has been developed.[1,2]
Polarographic type electrodes can be made as small as 2 mm. Some investi-
gators state that its dimensions could be made even smaller.[12] In this
study, this type of sensor was used because of its suitability for use in environ-
mental conditions and its low cost, high speed, and sensitivity, its linear
characteristics, and its ability to provide continuous measurements, as
shown in Table 1.[8]
Some O2 sensor types and some of their features are shown in Table 1.
Polarographic type sensors are very convenient for measurements in the
range of 0 –100% O2. A portable and online measurement system remains
to be developed. There is no gas needed for calibration. It is fast enough
and it can be used for measurement at ambient temperature. As a result, this
type of sensor is more convenient than the other types of sensors for O2

Structure of the Sensor

A sensor which has polarographic type Clark cell model was used in the
measurement circuit. The structure and cross section of the sensor are shown
in Figure 1. A Clark cell is an electrochemical cell. It was insulated from the
unknown solution (or measurement environment) by a diffusion barrier
(membrane). The sensor also contains a small ‘0’ ring, a protective cover,
and a known solution (electrolyte) which includes a platinum and a Ag –
AgCl electrode (as active and reference electrodes). Salt water or neutral
potassium chloride can be used as an electrolyte.[8] The main body was
made of high density polyethylene. The cell is covered with a membrane
which is permeable to oxygen molecules. Since the thickness of the
membrane can be controlled easily, generally silicon or teflon membrane are
used in the sensor structure. If the thickness of the membrane or electrolyte
is increased, the response time of the sensor increases, while its output
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Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller

Table 1. Comparison of operating characteristics of electrochemical O2 sensors

Features Ceramic-oxide sensor Micro-fuel cell Open cathode cell Polarographic sensor

Analytical range 0,1 ppm – %100 0 – 1 ppm %0 – 100

Type of analyzer Online Portable, online Online Portable, online
Major application Flue gas Trace O2, O2 % Trace O2 Flue gas, CO2 streams
Certified calibration-gas requirement Yes No No No
Zero-gas requirement Yes No No No
Gas-phase measurement Yes Yes Yes Yes
Liquid-phase measurement No No No Yes
90% of response time 1–2 s 7 – 60 s 30 s 7 – 10 s
Expected life 12 month 6 – 18 month 6 month 6 month
Operating temperature 600– 8008C Thermistor Temperature Thermistor
compensated controlled (408C) compansated
Sensor maintenance Replaceable Disposable Replaceable Disposable or renewable
Cost $400 $70– 165 $285 $80– 100

514 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

Figure 1. The structure and cross section of the sensor to be used in the Clark cell
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current and sensitivity decrease.[8] Some researchers suggest that the diameter
of the electrode also affects the linearity. According to some researchers, the
course of diffusion would be different with a change in the characteristic of
the membrane, if polarization was with a pulse instead of DC voltage.[6]

Working Principle and Polarization of the Sensor

The sensor consists of an active electrode and a reference electrode. The

structure and polarized electrodes are shown in Figure 2. Diffusion of
oxygen through the silicone membrane into the electrolyte causes the
current to flow at a level of microamperes (26.3 mA ppm21, in theory)
between the two electrodes.[2,6] The reference electrode (Ag2AgCl) and the
active electrode (Pt) are not polarized until the applied voltage level
reaches 0.4 V. Since the entire applied voltage drops on the platinum and
solution, there is no current flowing in the circuit. When the battery voltage
reaches the 0.5 V level, current begins to flow in the circuit, depending on
the oxygen concentration in the gas (environment) or dissolved oxygen in
the solution, because the voltage level that is on the platinum electrode is
large enough to reduce undissolved oxygen ions in the solution.[6] When
oxygen molecules are dissolved and a positive voltage source is applied to
the cell, the half-cathodic reaction becomes as shown in the following.

Figure 2. The polarization circuit for the sensor: (a) voltage output (b) current output.
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 515

Oxygen atoms combine with hydrogen atoms in the internal gas to produce an
electric current, as shown in equation (1).[2,8]
4e þ O2 þ 2H2 O    !    4OH ð1Þ
At the end of the anodic reaction, silver ions occur, as shown in equation (2).
Ag þ Cl    !    AgCl þ e ð2Þ
þ 2
At the same time, Ag ions combine with Cl ions in the chemical reaction
and AgCl is obtained, as represented in equation (3). The reaction can be
defined as the following form:
4Agþ þ O2 þ 2H2 O þ 4Cl    !    4AgCl þ 4OH ð3Þ
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Four electrons (e2) flow from the power supply for each O2 molecule.
This reaction occurs only for 0.3 –0.4 V levels of the battery voltage. After
this, it begins to increase. The chemical reaction is the fastest at an 0.5 V
level and continues free from voltage up to 0.8 V. If the higher voltage
levels are applied to the electrodes, it causes electrolysis of the water and
this yields oxygen and hydrogen gases around the electrodes.
The current-voltage relationship of the O2 electrode for four different O2
levels are shown in Figure 3.[2,8] Current that flows between the electrodes is a
linear function of oxygen concentration in the electrolyte.[12] After the half
reaction is completed, a transposition between the hydroxyl (OH2) and
chloride (Cl2) ions is concluded. As a result, the electrolyte and membrane
must be renewed or changed. The lifetime of the sensor may vary from 1– 2
hours to 1 –2 months, depending on the design of the sensing membrane. If
a measured gas is dry, its lifetime must be increased. Since the electrolyte
volume of the sensor is also small, water in the electrolyte evaporates more
quickly and the electrolyte becomes dry.[8]

Figure 3. Current-to-voltage dependence of the sensor for the different % O2 levels.

516 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler


Measurement Circuit

The oxygen sensor works according to an amperometric principle. The elec-

trodes must be polarized for operation of the sensor. A biasing level of the
electrodes can be chosen according to the linearity; the best value is 0.75 V
for the design shown in Figure 3. This biasing voltage can be provided by
using one of the two circuits designed as shown in Figure 2. First, a simple
voltage divider circuit was used to decrease the battery voltage of 0.75 V, as
shown in Figure 2(a). But, the output of the measurement circuit was
loaded to measure the output current; since the polarization voltage level of
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the reference electrode changed, measurement result had some errors. Thus,
this method was not used. To solve this problem, the more the resistance
value to the measured current becomes decreased, the better it is. But, this
can affect the linearity of the sensor and output voltage level can decrease sig-
nificantly. In this case, the output voltage levels have to be increased to a
useful level. As the output of the measurement circuit produces voltage
levels, the output signal may yield a somewhat noisy signal.
As a best solution for this circuit design problem, the output current of
the sensor was directly applied to an op-amp current-to-voltage converter, as
shown in Figure 2(b). Thus, three main advantages were realized. First, the
sensor could be located at a greater distance, unless the output signal was
exposed to noise, and there is no need for amplification. Secondly, the
response time is faster and linearity is better because of the light loading con-
straint. Thirdly, the offset voltage level of the amplifier can be minimized.
Since the active electrode is polarized directly in this circuit design, the
polarization voltage was chosen, again, as 20.75 V, which is the best
value. As was expressed previously, the output of the sensor depends on
temperature. When the temperature is increased by 18C, it causes an
increase of output level of the sensor of 2.5%. In other words, the sensor
has a positive temperature coefficient. Therefore, in addition to a temperature
compensation circuit, the amplifier circuit that can provide an adjustable
offset value and zero and span adjustment circuits, which are necessary for
measurement, are added.
The last circuit design of the measurement circuit is shown in Figure 4.
The polarization voltage of the electrodes was obtained by using an LM
336 integrated circuit (IC) as a voltage reference supply. Since long term
stability of the LM 336 IC reference supply is about 20 ppm 8C21 and can
provide 10 mA output current, a stable reference voltage is provided.[13]
Grounds are used as common. Output voltage of the first stage is
determined from equation (4).

VO1 ¼ I  R1 ð4Þ
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Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller

Figure 4. Measurement circuit with current input and voltage output.
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M. Burunkaya and I. Guler
Figure 5. Block schematic of the O2 gas controller and the controlled environment.
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 519

Because of the polarization, the current level of the sensor is at a nA level.

Since this is a very low level, for reliability of the measurement result
and recording and displaying instruments, it is converted to voltage and
amplified. As the hysterisis range is provided by resistor (R2), the output of
the measurement circuit is not affected by a small variation of the input
current. The task of the second stage is amplification and temperature compen-
sation. The negative temperature coefficient (ntc) resistor (R16) is connected
to the feedback line to obtain temperature compensation and, so, the measure-
ment result depends only physical gravities at an accuracy of +5%. Output
voltage level (VO2) of the second stage is calculated from equation (5).
R9 þ ðR16 þ R4Þ
VO2 ¼ VO1  ð5Þ
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While the input level is zero (0% O2 level), the output level of the measure-
ment circuit is adjusted to zero volts by using the ‘offset’ trimpot and,
while the input level is at a maximum value, the output level is adjusted to
5 V by using the ‘Gain’ trimpot. Thus, zero and span value adjustments of
the measurement circuit depends on the input physical gravities.

Control and Display Units

The output of the O2 measurement circuit was connected to the controller

circuit. The block schematic of the O2 gas controller and the controlled
environment are shown in Figure 5. Control processes have been handled
by a PIC16F877 microcontroller. Set values can be entered by using the
switches on the front panel of the instrument or by a computer that can com-
municate with the instrument via the RS 232 communication ports. Both the
set and measurement values are displayed on the liquid crystal module
(LCM) display and the computer screen. The controller circuit can also be
operated without a computer. The controller circuit compares the measure-
ment value and set value and then generates an output to control a valve
that i connected to the gas output of the oxygen tank. The output of the micro-
controller circuit, driver circuit O2 valve, and ultrasonic humidifier are
optically isolated for system safety and reliability. This provides 5,300
Vrms isolation between the circuits.[9]
Microchip Assembly Language is used to develop the software for the
PIC microcontroller and Microchip Assembly Programming Language
Package (MPASMw) is used to program the PIC.[14]

Power Supply Unit

The power supply, which provides þ9 V and 29 V sources, is required for the
system operation. The O2 controller can be operated by the main power or, if it
is necessary, the power can be supplied with batteries. Thus, either a portable
520 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

measurement (and controller) circuit or more stable polarization voltage is



Electrical Model of the Input Physical Gravity and Calibration

of the Measurement Unit

Since the measurement of current, at a nA level, obtained in the sensor, is not

possible, the electrical model of input physical gravity was designed and zero
and span adjustment was accomplished by connecting its output to input of the
measurement circuit. 0 mA and 12 mA current levels represent the minimum
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and the maximum values of the input physical gravities, respectively, and
output of the measurement circuit was set to 0 V and 5 V, respectively.
Measurement results are presented in Table 2 and, according to this, input-
output characteristics of the measurement circuit is as shown in Figure 6.
Measurement results show that its input-output characteristics were linear.

Performance Tests of the Sensor and O2 Measurement Circuit

According to Input Physical Gravity

It is very difficult to expose the sensor to a full range of O2 gas concentration

values between 0% and 100% and to obtain a control environment. However,
the measurements were done at the condition of concentration values that can
be obtained and are enough for the performance test. Since the concentration

Table 2. Input-output characteristic of the O2

measurement circuit that are provided accord-
ing to electrical model of the physical gravity

Ii (mA) Vi (V) VO (V)

0 0.00 20 mV
1 20.78 300 mV
2 21.5 0.7
3 22 1.37
4 22.4 1.4
5 22.895 2.14
6 23.39 2.3
7 24.4 2.64
8 25 3.0
9 25.8 3.6
10 26.3 4.1
11 27.0 4.7
12 28.0 5.00
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 521
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Figure 6. Input-output characteristic of the O2 measurement circuit that is drawn

with respect to electrical model of the physical gravity.

of O2 gas of the atmosphere is normally 20.9%, the sensor was exposed to a

21% concentration of O2 gas by holding it in the ambient atmospheric
condition. After this, the sensor was exposed a concentration of 100% O2
gas by holding it at the output of the O2 tank.[10] Resultant measured values
were 0.9 V and 4.95 V at the level of 21% and 100% O2. These show the
measurement circuit works linearly. Relative error of the measurement
circuit was calculated and was found to be 21% O2 using equation (6).
measurement value  full scale value
%e ¼  100
full scale value
¼ 1% O2 ð6Þ

Effects of Temperature Changes on the Measurement

Temperature changes can cause variation of the physical values on the whole
materials. This situation is also a very important problem, especially of the
measurement tools. Temperature compensation was provided with an ntc
used for the measurement processes. Measurement results are shown in
Figure 7 before temperature compensation was provided and after it was
provided. They show that temperature effects have been decreased at the
measurement processes after compensation.
Determination of the Response Time of the Sensor and O2 Controller

Calibration of the sensor was performed as explained above. The O2

reference sensor meter (Lutron DO-5510 Model) and O2 controller were
522 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler
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Figure 7. Measurement results obtained before and after temperature compensation.

exposed to 21% O2 gas concentration by keeping them under normal atmos-

pheric condition. Measurement results of the controller are recorded by using
a data logger on the computer. When the power is first applied to the O2 con-
troller, it produces a spike voltage of 5 V, due to sensor’s characteristic, as
shown in Figure 8. The reference O2 meter that uses the same type of
sensor also has the identical spike. Then, the O2 controller reaches the
stable value of 19% O2 in 9 s, as shown in Figure 8. Since the response
times of the O2 sensors have been calculated as 90% O2 of the final value,
the response time of the controller circuit was determined to be 6.5 s. As a

Figure 8. Characteristic of the O2 controller when the power is first on, and determin-
ing the response time of the O2 sensor.
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 523

result, the controller circuit is much faster than the reference meter and it is
also faster than the other oxygen sensors for which the features had been pre-
viously given in Table 1. Conversely, the reference O2 meter was very slow
and reached a stable value of 17% O2 in 2 minutes. Since the data logger has
a large value of sample and hold capacitance, and a large amount of
sampling has been provided, there are many fluctuations of the output
characteristics. This causes to oscillations and instability on the output
voltage of the measurement circuit. Thus, driving of the O2 valve became
unstable and the O2 level in the control environment exceeded the
maximum set value. As a result, the minimum value of the last ten measure-
ments was recorded and the control processes have been performed
according to this software of the PIC. Since this overshoot problem had con-
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tinuously occured in the all of the measurements, this method of control is

valid for all measurements and control. More stable measurement values
and control processes have been provided and output fluctuations were

Establishing the O2 Gas Controlled Environment and Performance Test

of the Controller for the Set Value over 50% O2

Since the high level of O2 is easily provided in the limited volume of the
environment, the performance test of the developed system has been done
in the incubator environment as shown in Figure 5. However, the O2 controller
can be used in any limited or unlimited volume of environment. Since the air
of the incubator environment became dried during the control processes,
oxygen gas flow is humidified by an ultrasonic nebulizer.[15 – 17]
Performance test results of the controller for the set value over 50% O2
are shown in Figure 9. Measurement values of the controller and reference
meter are displayed, respectively, as 45% O2 after 12 s and 42% O2
5 minutes later.

Stability Test of the O2 Controller After its Sensor Had Been Left from
the Middle Level of O2 Concentration Environment to a Low Level

After the performance test of 50% O2 had been finished, the sensor of the
controller was exposed to a normal atmospheric condition. The output
value of the measurement circuit dropped to 1.05 V and a value of 21%
O2 was displayed on the LCM in 10 s. At the same time, values of 26%
O2 was displayed on the LCM of the reference O2 meter. This shows that
the controller circuit is faster than reference meter when same type of O2
sensor is used.
524 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler
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Figure 9. Performance test of the O2 controller by setting the control value at

50% O2.

Stability Test of the O2 Controller After the High Level O2

Concentration Test

The O2 controller sensor and the reference meter were exposed to a 100% O2
level in the incubator environment. Then, the O2 tube valve was closed. Five
minutes later, the output value of the measurement circuit was measured
as 1.35 V, and 27% O2 was displayed on the LCM, as shown in Figure 10.
At the same time, a value of 28% O2 was displayed on the LCM of the
reference O2 meter. This shows that the measurement results of the
reference O2 meter are reliable, but slow. According to these results, the
developed system has operated correctly.

Figure 10. Stability test of the O2 controller after the high O2 concentration test was
Microcontroller Based Oxygen Gas Controller 525


In this study, a microcontroller based, low cost, high performance O2 gas

controller, which can be used for medical purposes or in industry, has been
designed and implemented. As a sensor, a polarographic type which
depends on the clark cell model is used.
Some performance tests of the designed O2 controller were performed.
Some advantages were provided by the design. It would be better if these
advantages are separately explained, considering the measurement and
control circuits. If necessary, the measurement circuit can also be used for
measuring dissolved oxygen in liquids, for example, in blood. Since the
sensor is a polarographic type, its response time is fast (about 10– 13 s), the
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output is linear, and the offset value is low. The response time of the O2 con-
troller circuit was determined to be 5.5 s. This is the fastest response time for a
polarographic type of sensor. For example, the designed system is about 12
times faster than reference meter in which the same type of sensor has been
used. Measurement results show that relative error of the measurement
circuit is about 21% O2 in the range of 0 – 100% O2. This error was
reduced at the output of the measurement circuit by adjusting the gain of
the amplifier circuit. The developed system can be used for measurement in
ambient temperature conditions and there is no need for a high temperature
level. Since the measurement processes are affected by temperature
changes, required temperature compensation has been accomplished by
using an NTC.
Since the designs of measurement and control circuit are modular, they
can easily be used for either measurement or control processes alone. In
addition to these, since the measurement unit produces an electrical output
which depends on the physical gravity, it is compatible for use with other
embedded or separated control systems. Control processes were performed
by a high performance, high speed PIC microcontroller. The O2 controller
can also be controlled by a computer, using an RS232 protocol. Measurement
results show that the developed system is very sensitive to O2 changes. The
controller circuit has a resolution of 1  1021% O2. Additionally, it is very
fast, as explained above, due to the PIC and its measurement circuit.
The most important disadvantage of the measurement device is that the
calibration of the Clark cell model sensor may change with time and, since
the membrane and electrolyte of the sensor lose their characteristics with
time, periodic maintenance is required. But, this is the main problem of the
measurement instruments which work according to a voltaic cell principle
that shows its similar working performance and its output voltage is
obtained directly. Also, the cost of these sensors is very high and their
lifetimes are very short. By contrast, the lifetime of the Clark cell type
sensor is unlimited, in theory. Therefore, the cost of the developed system
is very low. Additionally, the sensor can be redesigned and reproduced. In
this case, the cost will be decreased even further.
526 M. Burunkaya and I. Guler

If the controller measurement circuit is considered to be used in a living

organism, some problems must be eliminated, for instance, sterilization, long
life, and response time.


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Received September 30, 2003

Accepted March 30, 2006
Manuscript 1547
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