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Fuel Cell Breathalysers

Drink driving is a crime all across Australia, and the best way to stop it is to know your blood alcohol level before you get behind the wheel. Learner, probationary, and professional drivers all have to meet a zero-tolerance 0.00 BAC rating to drive, while other drivers must be below 0.05 BAC. Anyone accompanying a learner driver must also be below 0.05 BAC. If someone stops you, it's an offence to refuse to take a breathalyser test. This is one area where it's never safe to make a guess; handheld breathalysers are one way to be sure before you let someone get behind the wheel of your car.

What Kinds of Breathalyser are There?

All personal breathalysers work on the same basic principle, even a keychain breathalyser; your breath enters the device which then breaks down any alcohol present into acetic acid. This generates an electric current, and the strength of the current determines the amount of alcohol present. There are two main kinds of portable breathalyser, fuel cell and semi-conductor:

  • Semi-Conductor Breathalysers: These use a tin-oxide breathalyser sensor to electronically oxidise alcohol and then measure the current produced. They are less expensive and less accurate than fuel cell models.
  • Fuel Cell Breathalysers: More expensive than semi-conductor models, these pass your breath through an electrolyte stored between platinum electrodes. Their higher price is offset by their greater accuracy.

Why Choose Fuel Cell?

There are a number of reasons for preferring a fuel-cell based home breathalyser over a semi-conductor model. Not only are fuel cells more accurate, they retain that accuracy for a longer period of time. In fact, regular use of a fuel cell model can actually prolong its accurate lifespan. This means you don't have to recalibrate it as frequently. They are also less subject to false positives, which is another benefit. Anyone who needs regular accurate BAC readings cannot go wrong with a fuel-cell based model.

Reasons for Having a Breathalyser

There are several reasons why you might want to own a personal breathalyser. A professional or probationary driver may need to verify that their BAC has dropped to zero before they get on the road. Anyone who has their BAC checked at work can also benefit from checking their own levels first, especially if they had a drink the night before. A breathalyser is one of the most important tools available in the fight against drunk driving. Anyone who does own a breathalyser should remember that they need regular calibration. With some models you can simply change the sensor module yourself, but with others you need to have a specialist recalibrate the machine.

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