Chromogenic Sensor for Analyzing Ethanol Concentration in Gasoline

Technology #16678

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Peng Jiang
Sin Yen Leo
Tianwei Xie
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Reusable, Inexpensive, Tunable Polymer Membrane Detects Ethanol Concentration Using One Drop of Gasoline or a Similar Commercial Product

This reusable, chromogenic ethanol sensor can detect the concentration of ethanol in a single drop of gasoline. Ethanol has lower energy content than gasoline; it also can cause corrosive damage to rubber and aluminum components of fuel systems. Available methods for testing ethanol concentration involve the addition of water and observing the volume change caused by selective absorption. However, this method has low accuracy and can’t be used when the ethanol content is lower than about 5 percent volume. Alternatively, electronic sensors on the market can precisely analyze the concentration of ethanol in gasoline, but the cost is prohibitive.

Researchers at the University of Florida have created a reusable, chromogenic ethanol sensor that is inexpensive, is easy to operate, requires only a small amount of gasoline for testing and produces results that can be easily distinguished by the naked eye. These sensors can be used to test ethanol concentration in other healthcare products, such as antiseptics and liquid drugs.


Chromogenic films capable of detecting ethanol concentrations in gasoline and other healthcare products


  • Reacts using only one drop of a sample, enabling rapid, sensitive and specific detection of ethanol within seconds
  • Detects ethanol concentrations in a broad range, from 10 ppm to 30 percent volume, offering a more cost-effective alternative to expensive electronic sensors
  • Produces striking color changes varying from blue to green to orange, allowing ethanol concentrations to be easily distinguished by the naked eye
  • Returns to original color through a simple process, allowing sensor to be reused over 100 times


These reusable chromogenic ethanol sensors are able to detect trace amounts of ethanol in fuel grade gasoline and other commercial products. The sensors are composed of a tunable polymer membrane created through simple, scalable, nanoparticle self-assembly technology. The polymer membrane has a macroporous structure that is designed to respond specifically to ethanol. When exposed, the macropores alter in shape, producing a chromogenic color change. The varied concentration of ethanol produces drastically different colors, allowing unaided eyes to interpret the results. The membrane will return to its original color through cold programming and can be reused. Additionally, a mobile smartphone platform can quantitatively analyze the ethanol concentration.