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Sensores de bajo coste para detección de hidrógeno gaseoso


Oferta Tecnológica
Un grupo de investigación español ha desarrollado un nuevo procedimiento de preparación de sensores para detectar hidrógeno gaseoso de forma sencilla, económica y eficiente. Las principales ventajas incluyen robustez, simplicidad y fiabilidad de los sensores, que pueden aplicarse en los sectores de automoción, energía, separación de gases, producción de gas y química fina. Se buscan empresas interesadas en adquirir la tecnología y establecer acuerdos de fabricación, cooperación o comercialización con asistencia técnica.


Low cost sensors for the detection of gaseous hydrogen
A Spanish research group has developed a new procedure for the preparation of sensors to detect gaseous hydrogen in a simple, economical and efficient way. The main advantages are the robustness, simplicity and reliability of the sensors and it can be applied in automotive, energy, gas separation, gas production and fine chemistry. The research group is looking for companies acquiring the invention for commercial agreement, technical assistance, manufacturing agreement or technical cooperation.
Nowadays the use of H2 is one of the most promising alternatives to replace fossil fuels in the energy industry. The present energy perspectives focus on the production of H2 by the electrolysis of water through renewable energy sources and the reforming of hydrocarbons such as ethanol or other organic compounds. However, H2 is a colourless and odourless gas, with high diffusivity, highly flammable at concentrations above 4% vol., and explosive over a wide range of concentrations (15-59 %) at standard atmospheric pressure. Therefore, safety issues concerning its generation, transport, storage and use must always be considered. There is a wide variety of H2 sensors capable of measuring different kinds of signals usually based on materials such as optical fibers or semiconductors. Continuous efforts are being made in order to improve sensitivity, selectivity, response time and reliability, as well as diminishing production costs, size and power consumption of the devices, to meet the demands of a future H2 economy scenario. In this situation, CNTs can be presented as an alternative towards the development of devices designed for the detection of gases including H2. In this sense, the preparation of CNT-based gas sensors has been widely studied and reported in the literature.

For the development of gas sensors, a response of the device is required when in the presence of the analyte gas. Among the requirements that these devices must fulfil in order to find a practical application are delivering a stable signal towards the analyte gas under ambient conditions, showing a reversible behaviour, and performing with high sensitivity, selectivity and low response time for different gas concentrations. CNT-based gas sensors have been developed and proved to perform very well for the detection of several analyte gases, such as NH3, CH4, H2S, O2, NO2 and H2.

The group reports the preparation of H2 sensors based on Pd nanoparticle-doped CNTs by a very simple, low-cost procedure, using commercial Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNTs) as support. The procedure involves the preparation of the CNTs suspension and the metal nanoparticles suspension separately, and the consecutive deposition of the two suspensions onto a substrate to prepare the sensor. This preparation protocol allows perfect control over the different components in the sensor, including the amount of CNTs and the size, shape and amount of metal deposited on them.

The procedure followed for the preparation of these devices involves:
- Preparation of the non-conductive support. Two adhesive metal strips are placed on each side of the non-conductive support to act as electrical contacts. Conducting paint is applied improve conductivity.
- Preparation of a suspension of carbon nanotubes in a solvent. The carbon nanotubes may be single-walled (SWCNT) or multi-walled (MWCNT) or combinations of both. The solvents may be organic or aqueous.
- Controlled deposit of the suspension of CNTs on the support and drying.
- Preparation of the nanoparticle suspension, avoiding sintering.
- Controlled deposition of the nanoparticles suspension on the support and drying.

The hydrogen sensors obtained by this procedure have been characterized by standard hydrogen detection tests whose results have proven the efficiency in terms of sensitivity, linearity, reproducibility, and response and recovery times (see Figure 2).

Likewise, the CNT and nanoparticle suspensions are stable which eases their implementation at different levels, including industrial. This is mainly due to the simple nature of the sensor preparation procedure used, based on the use of two independent suspensions which may be stored over long periods of time.
Advantages and Innovations:
The method employed to prepare this kind of sensors has proven to be very simple to give rise to highly sensitive sensors which perform with very high reproducibility under realistic conditions. The nature of the suspension of the SWCNT has a paramount influence over the samples behaviour. The sensors prepared from the water suspension show an enhanced sensitivity with respect to DMF-based systems, due to the higher degree of dispersion of the SWCNTs and the characteristics of the nanoparticles/polymer/SWCNT system.


· New simple preparation method which does not require sophisticated instrumental techniques.
· The procedure use low-cost materials and optimizes the loading of the metals employed.
· This technology is efficient, producing robust and reliable sensors with high signal-to-response ratio and low cost.
· The CNT and nanoparticle suspensions needed are stable and may be stored over long periods of time.
Stage of Development:
Prototype available for demonstration
Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
This technology is protected by a Spanish patent application. Also, a PCT application has been filed for international extension.

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
The research group seeks companies interested in acquiring this technology for its commercial exploitation through the different technology transfer pathways.


Type and Size of Client:
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
05005 Micro y nanotecnología
10001003 Tecnología de seguridad contra incendios
09001009 Tecnología de sensores relacionada con la realización de medidas
04001006 Transport and storage of hydrogen