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Fuel Cell Technologies

Improving Hydrogen Sensors to Enhance Fuel Infrastructure Safety

Company Name: KWJ Engineering, Inc.
Program Office: Fuel Cells
Location: Newark, CA
Award Amount ($): $200,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Los Alamos National Laboratory/National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Fostering widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology for transportation and other applications will require developing reliable fueling infrastructure, including sensors that can detect gas leaks. Such sensors can be used around pipelines, in fuel cell systems, at fueling stations, and in vehicles themselves.

Currently KWJ Engineering produces advanced gas sensor technologies for health hazards such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and ozone. It's working to add hydrogen to its product line, which is already used in many industries to detect gas leaks. This project will allow KWJ Engineering to work with facilities and experts at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to evaluate a hydrogen sensor prototype and resolve on-going issues with sensor performance and testing to inform optimized sensor design.

An increased level of understanding of the mechanistic and materials aspects of the sensors will enable optimized sensor design and enhance commercialization, positioning KWJ to take the lead in providing advanced hydrogen sensors for emerging hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, fueling stations and related applications. Most importantly, this work will contribute to the development of more stable, reliable and robust sensors for hydrogen fuel cell safety, fuel cell vehicle safety and fueling station safety as well as a deeper understanding of the materials and sensing mechanisms that enable optimized, high performance hydrogen sensor design.


KWJ Engineering possesses the only viable, high performance ultralow power, tiny amperometric gas sensor technology for modern distributed and mobile applications. Successful completion of this program could result in a new, tiny, ultralow power hydrogen safety sensor with high quality supporting electronics which will be less expensive, more reliable and more readily deployable than current, conventional hydrogen sensors. The ability to leverage the KWJ printed sensors approach could mean producing sensors for less than two dollars each, which would open up many new possible applications and markets compared to current amperometric sensors, which cost about $10 each, at the low end.


Hydrogen is an attractive alternative fuel source and building up hydrogen infrastructure could create an entirely new fuel industry in the United States, along with associated opportunities in fuel synthesis, advanced manufacturing and fuel services.

Hydrogen fuel can be produced cleanly and sustainably and at the tailpipe level, the fuel produces no emissions, leading to reductions in on-road pollution, including cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuel system safety is important not only for drivers and people working in and around refueling stations, but also in industrial and defense applications where hydrogen fuel must be stored safely.

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