Zirconia Electrochemical Hydrogen Safety Sensor

Organization: Los Alamos National Laboratory
Co-Developer(s): Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Hydrogen Frontier, Inc.
Year: 2017

The potential of hydrogen as a clean fuel source for automobiles is rapidly growing. Hydrogen fuel stations are already operating in California, and vehicle manufacturers such as Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota have models available that use hydrogen fuel cells for power. However, unlike gasoline, hydrogen is highly flammable, colorless, odorless and propagates very quickly when released into the air. The Zirconia Electrochemical Hydrogen Safety Sensor offers a solution. Made of safe, durable and long-lasting ceramic sensor elements, these highly sensitive electrochemical hydrogen safety sensors make filling up hydrogen-fueled vehicles a lot safer.

They can be placed anywhere in the hydrogen supply chain, from hydrogen production and distributions to a critical component of a hydrogen “pump” at a filling station to functioning as part of the consumer product itself. They can indicate if there is an unintended hydrogen release, and trigger mitigation strategies designed to prevent hazardous situations from arising. They also activate alarm systems and communications to first responders in the event that releases of hydrogen exceed the Lower Flammable Limit (LFL). They are capable of autonomously shutting down the system as well. They can easily be integrated into hydrogen infrastructure systems, as is required by station-permitting guidelines and adopted safety codes and standards.