You are here

Fast Response, Highly Sensitive Hydrogen Monitor and Leak Detector

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0021697
Agency Tracking Number: 0000258815
Amount: $249,998.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 27c
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-06-28
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-03-27
Small Business Information
45 Manning Road
Billerica, MA 01821-3976
United States
DUNS: 030817290
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 David Nelson
 (978) 663-9500
Business Contact
 Carolyn Fialkowsi
Phone: (978) 663-9500
Research Institution

This project will demonstrate a novel approach to achieve rapid (1 second or faster) and sensitive (ppb level) detection of molecular hydrogen, H2. The monitor will be based upon the rapid and quantitative conversion of molecular hydrogen to water vapor in ambient air over a hot catalyst. The resulting water vapor can be detected with a variety of fast and sensitive water vapor monitoring technologies – for example, laser spectroscopy or non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) spectroscopy. Normally, the signal from ambient water vapor would exceed the hydrogen-derived water signal. Unaddressed, this would greatly limit the utility of this approach. However, we will employ novel sampling schemes to overcome this challenge. These innovations will extract the desired hydrogen signal while suppressing the undesired ambient water signal. These proprietary schemes are presented in detail in the Phase I proposal. This proposal is directly responsive to the request in sub-topic 27.c for “new sensing tools, both fixed and mobile and for either remote or close-in detection.” Multiple versions of this instrument that address different scenarios are envisioned, but all will utilize the novel sampling approach developed during Phase I. At one end of the spectrum of industrial applications, this technology will enable inexpensive portable leak detectors for close-in or near field leak detection with precision of ~1 ppm. At the other end, a highly sensitive hydrogen monitor, with precision at the ppb level, will be configured for the remote or far field detection of leaks measured at long distance in a moving platform. During Phase I a prototype hydrogen monitor will be built and tested using a commercial water vapor monitor as the detection module. A prototype hydrogen to water conversion system and a prototype proprietary ambient water vapor suppression system will be constructed. Conversion of hydrogen to water vapor over a hot catalyst is a mature technique with little risk to the project’s success, but in Phase I its time response and conversion efficiency under appropriate flow conditions will be demonstrated as will its capability to suppress methane oxidation for some applications. Testing of the ambient water vapor suppression system will be the most crucial Phase I task. A successful Phase I will lead to a Phase II project that will consist of developing detailed designs and realistic demonstrations of various versions of this technology aimed at specific markets. A product line is envisioned ranging from portable near-field hydrogen leak detectors with adequate sensitivity in the price range of 30 k$ (before scaling to mass production), to highly sensitive, high speed monitors with prices ranging between 100 k$ and 150 k$ before scaling to mass production. Part of the Phase II effort will be to carefully explore the hydrogen monitoring opportunities that are likely to arise in the rapidly growing hydrogen economy, and to tailor commercialization towards those markets.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government