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We demonstrate a ldquotrading time for signalrdquo approach for the measurement of species-specific optical transmission, in ambients rich in particulates, using the example case of a turbulent fluidized bed reactor. The method is introduced on the basis of Monte Carlo simulations, as well as analysis of experimental data, of beam propagation for a range of path lengths, and particle concentrations. In a particular embodiment for relative propane-concentration measurements, data is acquired only during gated time intervals of partial beam occlusion detected in real time. The digitized data streams from the signal and background beams is processed by algorithms performing gating, digital balanced detection, and dual wavelength ratiometry. This combination, implemented on inexpensive programmable hardware, results in at least an order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity.