Researchers from NETL have received a patent for a new fiber optic sensor that can save time and money compared to conventional methods when used to detect hydrogen (H2) leaks at storage facilities.
This development could hasten the movement to use H2 as a dependable fuel to advance America’s decarbonization efforts.
H2 may be monitored at the parts per million (ppm) level according to a patented method called “Low-cost Fiber Optic Sensor Array for Simultaneous Detection of Several Parameters.” With the H2 leak detection technique, temperature and H2/gas are sensed simultaneously along a single fiber with numerous detecting layers. It was first created for monitoring transformer oil operations as part of grid modernisation initiatives.
Nanocomposite thin films are used in the sensor array along sections of an optical fiber. With the help of NETL technology, many sensing locations may be monitored by a single interrogation unit, saving both money and time.
NETL is playing a crucial role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to put hydrogen on the front lines of achieving net-zero carbon emission goals in the power sector by 2035 and the broader economy by 2050, while meeting DOE’s Hydrogen Shot goal of $1 per 1 kilogram in ten years, through its research on H2 production, transportation, storage, and use. When developing systems to use hydrogen as a fuel, monitoring for H2 leaks is crucial. This is true for hydrogen safety as well as to determine how much H2 contributes to global warming.
In order to ensure that the H2 is safely stored in underground wells until it is required to power more of the country’s crucial transportation, electricity generation, and manufacturing applications, better innovations are required, according to Ruishu Wright of NETL’s Functional Materials Team. This new patented technology helps address that need, she says.
The oil and gas sector and other relevant underground storage industry applications have employed a variety of wellbore monitoring technologies throughout the years in geological carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration, which can be adapted for hydrogen storage well monitoring. There are also currently available hydrogen sensors for catalytic combustion, electrochemistry, thermoconductivity, resistivity, acoustic leak detection, and optical based applications.
Due to the greater mobility and buoyancy of H2 gas plumes, NETL has concentrated on creating more practical methods for monitoring H2 underground storage facilities across large areas.
With the help of the new NETL technology, several sensing locations may be monitored by a single interrogation unit, saving both money and time. NETL is creating a range of optical fiber sensors for real-time monitoring of H2, methane, and chemical parameters at subsurface H2 storage conditions using a methodology similar to that in the awarded patent. These cutting-edge sensors will measure geochemical pH change, microbiological H2 consumption, and well integrity threats.