Low Cost, Trace Level Sulfur Sensor for Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
The progress in reliable fuel cell technology will have a tremendous impact towards the development of a robust hydrogen economy. However, the requirement of high-purity hydrogen for fuel cell performance imposes a major technical barrier against the utilization of fuel cells in the DOD applications. In particular, hydrogen extracted from military logistical fuel (JP8) by reformers contains sulfur compounds, which ruin the catalyst and degrade the fuel cell performance. Therefore, an inexpensive and innovative method is needed to continuously monitor the process stream of military logistical fuel for sulfur and other impurities. Techno-Sciences, Inc. together with university partner Oklahoma State University proposes to develop a novel, low cost, nanoparticle surface plasmon resonance sensor capable of detecting part per billion trace levels of sulfur compounds present in the fuels utilized by hydrogen fuel cells. The sensor development employs a unique nanofabrication technique, "electroless reduction of silver nanoparticles on silicon", combined with a novel sensing mechanism based on "hybrid plasmon damping". In Phase I, the validity of the approach has been demonstrated as a proof of concept by using bench top experimental set ups and analysis technologies. Phase II effort will address the prototype development for use in field conditions and technology integration with fuel cell industry. BENEFIT: The proposed effort will be applicable to a wide range of defense, commercial and residential end users. The initial effort will be particularly attractive to military and commercial power generation applications for contingency and mobile purposes. The sensor technology will be inexpensive, mobile and easily extensible to a wide variety of emerging sulfur detection problems for fuel cell based power systems. The commercial availability of the sensor will appeal to fuel cell industry, specifically, reformer manufacturers, fuel cell manufacturers, fuel cell end users as well as academic end users who work on development and optimization of future generation, more efficient fuel cell technologies. It is to be emphasized that low cost, trace level sulfur sensor is also applicable in the areas of gun powder detection, bio-hazard detection and threat detection, and has an environmental impact since the sulfur compounds in fossil fuels cause acid rains.
Small Business Information at Submission:
11750 Beltsville Drive 3rd Floor Beltsville, MD 20705
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