Method and Apparatus for Online and Selective Measurement of Gas Permeation Through Polymer Films


Reference #:  00761

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for a novel method of measuring gas permeation.

Invention Description:

The invention is a method and a test system for measuring gas transmission rates through barrier materials, not only in single gases but also for gas mixtures. The test system consists of a continuous flow permeation cell, a mass spectrometer with electron multiplier, gas supplies, flow controls and software for online data acquisition. The temperature and relative humidity of the gases are also controlled. A quadrupole mass spectrometer is used as the versatile detector for monitoring the permeation of up to 10 (small molecule) gas species simultaneously.


The gas permeability of polymer films is important in various packaging applications. For example, for many foods and beverages, the package’s resistance to oxygen and water intrusion is the limiting factor determining product shelf life. New and more stringent packaging standards have triggered a new wave of development of novel gas barrier films. At the same time, the demand for fast, accurate and versatile gas permeation test systems is also on the rise. There are no gas permeation test systems on the market that can measure mixed gas permeation or single gas permeation of critical organic compounds responsible for odors.


The test methods as described in ASTM 1434-82 are limited in their application range for not being rate-measurement methods and for the lack of selectivity in gas measurements. Commercial gas permeation measurement devices currently on the market also lack the selectivity in gas measurement as they are limited in the sensor type for detecting a specific gas. For example, a coulometric sensor is needed for sensing oxygen and an IR detector is needed for water vapor. Therefore, three different test systems will be required if one wants to test oxygen, water vapor and carbon dioxide permeation. This certainly adds to the total cost.

Advantages and Benefits:

This system provides the ability to measure the permeation of any single gas or gas mixture through barrier materials, including polymer films and coated paperboard, with a detection limit comparable to that offered by commercial systems. The operation range and the signal-to-noise ratio are greatly enhanced by using a mass spectrometer with electron multiplier, facilitating use of the current method for testing low permeability films.

Potential Applications:

The invention may be used in product packaging applications.

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Systems and Methods for Measurement of Gas Permeation Through Polymer Films Utility United States 12/397,520 8,424,367 3/4/2009 4/23/2013 11/20/2029  
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Harry Ploehn
John Monnier
Chen Xiaoming
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