Detector Tube

What is Detector Tube, detector tube device? A detector tube is a graduated glass tube filled with a chemical reagent that will produce a color change, when exposed to the gas in question. It is used with a hand pump that will draw a sample into the tube.

Detector tubes are generally supplied in packages of ten, and are sealed at both ends. In operation, the tips are broken off, and the tube is inserted into the hand pump. Depending on the manufacturer, the pump utilizes either a bellows or piston design, drawing a 100 milliliter sample through the tube.

As the sample works its way up the tube toward the pump, it reacts with the reagent such that the length of the color change produced is proportional to concentration. The point where this reaction stops is read off against graduated markings on the tube.

Detector tubes are easy to use, are relatively inexpensive, and the method is intrinsically safe, allowing it to be deployed in all occupancies. [ISA-RP12.06.01 defines intrinsically safe equipment as “equipment and wiring which is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions to cause ignition of a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture in its most easily ignited concentration.”]

Since detector tube device are available for hundreds of compounds, and have been around in a practical format since the 1930s, they are familiar to virtually anyone working in gas detection. But, eighty or so years after their introduction, there are now scores of gas detection instruments available. Thus, one might well ask when it is appropriate to use detector tubes.

Detector Tube: Detector Tube Device, Gas Detector Tubes

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Types of Detector Tube

What is Gas Detector Tubes?

Gas detector tubes are an easy to use, safe and relatively inexpensive way of detecting the concentrations of specific gases. Whether it’s flammable and toxic gases or other pollutants and vapors, the need to quickly detect certain gases — especially in the field without specialized equipment, specially-trained operators or long waits for laboratory analysis— is why gas detector tubes are often the first choice for professionals who are responsible for air quality issues.

Gas detector tubes are designed to reveal the presence of specific gases by changing color when they react with the airborne compound they’re manufactured to detect. Due to the color changing these tubes are sometimes referred to as colorimetric tubes. The glass tubes come sealed at both ends and with a reactive chemical inside. When it’s time to use a gas detector tube, you break off both of its ends and place it in a specially designed gas sampling hand pump. The pump then draws a specific volume of air across the interior of the tube — typically for one to three minutes — where, if the gas in question is present, it will react with the detecting reagent inside the tube. The change in color is measured on a pre-calibrated scale printed on the tube. The color change then proceeds along the length of the tube to indicate the concentration of the gas.

While there are more accurate forms of gas detection, gas detector tubes are ideal for initial, quick tests — such as around material spills, clandestine labs, fracking, emergency response, hazmat situations or in proximity to locations where a leak has been reported. Plus, due to the ease with which a hand pump can be operated, gas detector tubes offer a distinctly advantageous method for field personnel to conduct gas detection tests in all types of time-sensitive situations. No advanced preparations or electricity required, fast results, simple operation and no chemical reagents or analyzers required.