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Novel Wide-area Hydrogen Sensing Technology


Element One, Inc. is developing novel indicators for hydrogen gas for applications as a complement to conventional electronic hydrogen sensors, or as a low-cost alternative in situations where an electronic signal is not needed. The indicator consists of a thin film coating or a pigment of a transition metal oxide such as tungsten oxide or molybdenum oxide with a catalyst such as platinum or palladium. The oxide is partially reduced in the presence of hydrogen in concentrations as low as 300 parts per million and changes from transparent to a dark colour. The colour change is fast and easily seen from a distance. In air, the colour change reverses quickly when the source of hydrogen gas is removed in the case of tungsten oxide or is nearly irreversible in the case of molybdenum oxide. A number of possible implementations have been successfully demonstrated in the laboratory including hydrogen indicating paints, tape, cautionary decals, and coatings for hydrogen storage tanks. These and other implementations may find use in vehicles, stationary appliances, piping, refuelling stations and in closed spaces such as maintenance and residential garages for hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The partially reduced transition metal oxide becomes semi conductive and increases its electrical conductivity by several orders of magnitude when exposed to hydrogen. The integration of this electrical resistance sensor with an RFID tag may extend the ability of these sensors to record and transmit a history of the presence or absence of leaked hydrogen over long distances. Over long periods of exposure to the atmosphere, the indicator’s response may slow due to catalyst degradation. Our current emphasis is on controlling this degradation. The kinetics of the visual indicators is being investigated along with their durability in collaboration with the NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Related subjects: Safety
Countries: United States

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Novel Wide-area Hydrogen Sensing Technology

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