Sensors offer an enhanced level of safety needed to utilize the highly inflammable hydrogen fuel in automotives.

FREMONT, CA: Hydrogen –based energy sources are long being viewed as a potential clean source of energy. However, the major drawback that has restricted the use of hydrogen energy is the highly inflammable nature of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas can potentially fuel the automotive industry, but it’s highly flammable when mixed with air. Thus, any automobile or other vehicles that use such type of fuel must have a reliable and highly responsive sensor to ensure safety. 

According to Design News, the above issue can be addressed with the help of sensors. At present, the development of optical nanosensor responds quickest when hydrogen has escaped into the air. This sensor is based on an optical phenomenon known as a Plasmon that occurs once the metallic nanoparticles are illuminated and capture visible light. The effect results in sensor changing color as the amount of hydrogen in the environment changes.

Nanosensors are encapsulated in plastic with a twofold purpose. Such a design results in a marked increase in the sensor’s response time, hastening the dissolution of the hydrogen gas molecules into the metal particles. The metal particles of the sensors can easily detect the hydrogen gas molecules. The plastic also acts as a barrier to the environment, restricting other molecules to enter and impact the sensor. Thus, the plastic barrier is the key to the performance of the sensor and offers a point of differentiation over related technologies designed to date. 

As stated earlier, the automotive industry is eyeing the use of hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to fossil fuels to encourage the utilization of a cleaner source of energy. Thus, researchers are striving to develop customized sensors that can contribute to the use of hydrogen fuel in the automotive industry. The incorporation of nanosensors into automotives will see a significant surge in the time to come.