Sensor Node detects leaks may be used in Hydrogen Cars of the Future
May 25th, 2006
Hydrogen fuel offers environmentally friendly benefits and could become
a cost effective solution in the future. Hydrogen gas is invisible,
odorless and is highly explosive. Safety concerns are one of the
obstacles preventing consumers from using it as an alternative fuel
A research team from the University of Florida has developed a way to
detect the hydrogen fuel inexpensively by setting an alarm off if a leak
The sensor would be able to detect hydrogen leaks and sound an alarm via
wireless communication. This sensor node would be able to use the power
that comes from small vibrations, which would continually work without
replacing batteries. Cars, refrigerators, pumps, motors and any other
motor that vibrates could use the sensing node without batteries.
You need lots of hydrogen sensors to detect leaks, but you don't want
to have to maintain them or change the battery every couple of months,"
said Jenshan Lin, an associate professor of electrical and computer
engineering and the lead investigator on the NASA-funded sensor project.
"Our sensor can operate completely independently."
President Bush launched a $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative in
2003. The goal is to develop the fuel as a commercially marketable
item. Hydrogen is a gas that has to be made. It comes from water,
biomass, natural gas and even some algae and bacteria. Making hydrogen
inexpensively is also a goal for the future. The by-product of hydrogen
is pure water.
The sensor node has been in development for the past two years. NASA
has funded the $1 million plus sensor project as part of the NASA
Hydrogen Research Program at University of Florida. The reason why NASA
is interested in improving hydrogen fuel safety is they use liquid
hydrogen to fuel the space shuttle. The sensing nodes will improve the
safety of the space shuttle hydrogen systems.
At this time the sensor node is the size of a deck of cards. The goal
of the project is to make a smaller sensor node, which still needs to be
The benefits of the sensor node technology are potentially helpful in
the development of automobiles that run off of hydrogen fuel. This
could make it more feasible to implement hydrogen fuel in the future.
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