In April 2010, I talked about how the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) had developed a set of safety standards for hydrogen refueling stations. Way back in October 2006, I had talked about how commercial gas company Linde was adding an odor to their hydrogen gas at fueling stations (similar to natural gas) so that people would know if there was a leak.
In January 2010, I talked about how government was struggling to catch up with emerging hydrogen technology as far as safety codes, standards and practices. Mike Strizki, who owns the first solar hydrogen home in New Jersey, found it maddening working with government regulators when he tried to go green with his house.
Now, scientists and engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have joined forces with Joint Research Centre (JRC) to analyze hydrogen sensor technology.
Since hydrogen is colorless and odorless by nature, it has been challenging for researchers to come up with sensors that detect and warn of leaks. Linde decided to add odor to hydrogen, but injecting any impurities into hydrogen will also degrade fuel cells.
So, NREL and JRC are independently testing commercial hydrogen sensors under predetermined protocols and then sharing the results with one another.
According to William Buttner of NREL’s Hydrogen Technologies and Systems Center, “The first round of testing has been completed, and NREL and JRC have exchanged units for the second round of evaluations. By independently testing the same sensors, both labs gain insight into their respective systems, facilitating improved testing capabilities, protocols, and data analysis.”
No matter whether it’s using hydrogen fuel inside of cars, at the pump or at the manufacturing plant, H2 sensors are a necessary component when it comes to safety of consumers and company employees. By testing hydrogen sensors using best practices, better safety protocols and requirements can be developed which will let both consumers and handlers breathe a little easier.