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Hydrogen Safety

Optical Hydrogen Sensor for Hydrogen Storage Systems

The objective of this project is to investigate optical hydrogen sensing techniques with respect to their potential for achieving the goals for hydrogen safety sensors.  The research plan is directed at selecting the most promising of three sensing techniques for prototype development and evaluation.  The methods are (1) optically driven resonant hydrogen dissociation and detection, (2) fiber-optic based photoluminescence in rate-earth-doped nanocrystalline phosphors, and (3) optical detection of physisorbed hydrogen on polymer-film cantilever arrays.  The ultimate objective is to demonstrate that the prototype sensor can be developed into a commercial sensor system that overcomes the limitations of the current state-of-the-art hydrogen detectors.

These sensing methods do not require the use of noble metals such as palladium. Optical sensors are inexpensive to manufacture, extremely accurate, and have rapid response and recovery times.  Furthermore, many aspects of the underlying technology are widespread in consumer electronics and telecommunications.  The sensors will be resistant to contaminants, accurate and reliable at low concentrations of hydrogen, and capable of being integrated into hydrogen storage systems such as high-pressure tanks.

Contact: Barton Smith, smithdb@ornl.gov