Detecting hydrogen with fiber optic sensors
Hydrogen plays an increasingly central role in energy and climate policy. However, in the event of leaks there is an increased risk of fire and explosion. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute are working on glass fiber-based sensors that should enable safer handling of hydrogen.12 Apr 2022
In the fight against climate change, all countries are trying to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels as quickly and as much as possible. Hydrogen offers a sustainable alternative for this – especially in production and mobility. But even though hydrogen is not toxic, its properties require certain safety precautions to avoid explosions.
Current safety sensors require an electrical power supply; in the event of a defect, they could themselves ignite an explosion. This danger does not exist with glass fiber sensors, which are also easy to integrate.
In practice, new fiber optic sensors could, for example, become an integral part of hydrogen-powered vehicles and be used to monitor hydrogen filling stations, car repair shops or electrolysers. It would also be easy to build a larger sensor network that monitors a hydrogen infrastructure at many points at the same time.
“It is crucial for us to find ways to detect hydrogen that are fast enough to prevent accidents and that react reliably in the required sensitivity range. And we're currently on the right track,” said Dr. Günter Flachenecker, Senior Scientist at Fraunhofer HHI.
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