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Hydrogen Fuel – Sensor Node detects leaks may be used in Hydrogen Cars of the Future

May 25th, 2006

Hydrogen Fuel – Sensor Node detects leaks may be used in Hydrogen Cars of the Future

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

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 source.

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 occurs.

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 accomplished.

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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