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Zirconia Oxygen Sensor
Today's automobiles monitor combustion efficiency using a galvanic oxygen sensor in the exhaust manifold. This sensor measures the oxygen pressure of the exhaust gas. It functions by separating two gases of differing oxygen activity with an oxygen ion conductor; zirconia is most commonly used. The voltage output of the sensor is sent in a feedback loop to control the air/fuel mixture for optimized combustion.
The sensor shown here was manufactured by the Autolite plant in Fostoria, Ohio. It is composed of mostly zirconia plus some proprietary sintering additives. These additives improve both the density and the final properties of the zirconia. At the sintering temperature these additives are in the liquid state. This improves their distribution in the mass of powder.