Low Cost CO2 Sensing: A Simple Microcontroller Approach with Calibration and Field Use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the spatial variability of gaseous carbon flux at a landscape scale requires intensive monitoring campaigns necessitating significant and perhaps prohibitive financial investment. Commercially available CO2 sensors may only partially fulfil the requirements of the researcher, thereby generating inadequate data. In this context we present the fully replicable designs for a low-cost, microcontroller-based gaseous CO2 concentration data logger suitable for field deployment at scale. It demonstrates a post-calibration accuracy of 96-99% and large onboard data storage for data collected at user-defined intervals. The sensor can be powered via USB or batteries, assembled by novice users, and produced for approximately £155. Post-calibration it was used to measure CO2 evasion from a peatland stream, environments known to be spatially and temporally variable CO2 sources, although potential applications are much wider in scope. The proliferation of low-cost, open-source, and user-made sensors in physical sciences could allow researchers to answer questions previously unanswerable due to the limitations of existing proprietary equipment. We encourage other research teams to use and adapt this design for a range of purposes and research questions beyond carbon processing in peatlands.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00136
Early online date1 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Sep 2020


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Sensor
  • Arduino
  • Peatland
  • Low cost
  • Microcontroller


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