Gunze Ltd has developed a new hydrogen gas sensor using solid electrolytes and exhibited it at FC EXPO 2008.
The hydrogen gas sensor is based on a new principle and reportedly eliminates the need for heating, consumes less power and requires a shorter response time compared with existing catalytic combustion type hydrogen gas sensors. It is targeted for use in segments that handle hydrogen, such as fuel cell vehicles, stationary fuel cells and hydrogen stations.
"We are aiming to launch it within the next two to three years at a price lower than ¥100,000 (US$941)," a Gunze demonstrator said.
The solid electrolyte used in the sensor is a perfluorosulfonic acid polymer, which is commonly used in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC). Gunze reportedly developed a device that outputs the concentration of hydrogen ions as an electric signal. However, the company did not reveal the details of the sensor's structure because it is currently applying for a patent.
At present, catalytic combustion type sensors are the most pervasive hydrogen gas sensors. This type of sensor burns hydrogen with a catalyst and detects the amount of heat generated by combustion. Thus, it must be heated up to a temperature of about 300°C. In contrast, the latest sensor can be used at room temperature.
Moreover, the power consumption of the new sensor is so low that it can even run on dry cells. It also features a short response time of less than 1sec.
Gunze has high expectations for fuel cell vehicles. According to the company, hydrogen gas sensors are in high demand because four sensors must be mounted on one fuel cell vehicle. The new sensor also has an advantage that it runs on a 12V battery, which is commonly used in automobiles.
Correction Notice: We deleted some information that was found to be misleading.