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Development of Instrument Calibration Method for Dynamic Olfactometers

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Uncertainty in odour measurement is a major concern to environmental regulators, researchers, and stakeholders. Instrument and sensory performances are the two major components in estimating the uncertainty. The Australian standard in odour measurement using the dynamic olfactometer has introduced the need for instrument calibration for the first time. The paper reviews a number of olfactometers used in the last thirty years both in Australia and overseas, with particular focus on instrument performance in delivering dilution ratios. According to their gas mixing mechanism, these olfactometers were categorised into three generations. Both first generation (static mixing) and second generation (rotameter based) olfactometers are unable to meet the instrument performance criteria due to their manual operation. Third generation (mass flow controller based) olfactometers are sensitive to the supply air pressure and the back pressure caused by the gas mixing and sniffing. These mass flow controllers are susceptible to contamination that could contribute a significant error in the testing results. Several odor measurement standards around the world do not prescribe instrument calibration. Only one standard requires sensory calibration while others did not specify any instrument performance criteria. This study proposes a simple and reliable calibration method using mass flow meters. The method measured both diluted flow rate and sample flow rate in order to determine the dilution ratio. The calibration results demonstrate compliance of the olfactometer to the instrument performance criteria as specified in the standards (instability of 5% and accuracy of 20% at the 95% confidence level). The method was also used to verify the dilution ratios during the operation of the olfactometer. Instrument calibration should be carried out by the odour testing laboratory to reduce uncertainty in the measurement results.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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