Breath Technology

When it comes to measuring a person’s blood alcohol concentration, most Americans are familiar with breathalyzers that require drivers to provide a deep-lung sample by blowing into a tube or other sensor.

In contrast, the breath system being developed by Senseair, and their tier one auto supplier, Autoliv Development, is designed to unobtrusively analyze alcohol in the driver’s breath. Drivers will simply be able to enter the vehicle and breathe as they normally would.

How It Works

The system draws the driver’s exhaled breath into a sensor, which measures the concentrations of alcohol and carbon dioxide present. The known quantity of carbon dioxide in human breath serves as an indicator of the degree of dilution of the alcohol concentration in exhaled air.

Molecules of alcohol and those of tracers such as carbon dioxide absorb infrared light at specific wavelengths. The Senseair device directs infrared light beams on the breath sample and analyzes the wavelengths returned to quickly and accurately calculate the alcohol concentration. Senseair continues to move towards a prototype that can be integrated into a vehicle by utilizing mirrors to reduce the required optical length of the device. The device is highly sensitive and able to analyze diluted breath samples at dilutions expected from a driver’s natural breath plume.

Testing The Prototype

To test the prototype under development, the DADSS Research Program has developed a wet gas breath simulator. The simulator blends gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen with moisture to create an “exhaled breath” that matches the composition, temperature and pressure of a natural human breath. Ethanol can then be added to the breath at various concentrations. In addition, the Senseair prototype will continue to run through a series of human subject tests, as well as durability tests in different environmental situations, from temperature shifts, to sudden changes in motion, to interference such as dust or mechanical shock.

About The Manufacturer

Senseair is an innovation-based sensor company and leading manufacturer of infrared carbon dioxide sensors and controllers. It is based in Sweden, with over 20 years’ experience in the field of infrared gas measurement technology. Learn more about the manufacturer at: