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Sensores de bajo coste para detectar hidrógeno gaseoso


Oferta Tecnológica
Un grupo de investigación español ha desarrollado un nuevo procedimiento para la preparación de sensores de detección de hidrógeno gaseoso de forma sencilla, económica y eficiente. Las principales ventajas son la robustez, simplicidad y fiabilidad de los sensores. Los campos de aplicación incluyen las industrias de automoción, energía, separación de gas, producción de gas y química fina. El proceso no requiere técnicas instrumentales sofisticadas y utiliza materiales de bajo coste. Los nanomateriales de carbono y suspensiones de nanopartículas necesarios son estables y pueden almacenarse durante largos períodos. El grupo de investigación busca compañías interesadas en adquirir la tecnología y establecer acuerdos de cooperación técnica o licencia.


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. It can be applied in automotive and energy industries, gas separation, gas production and fine chemistry. The research group is looking for companies acquiring the invention for technical cooperation or license agreement.
Nowadays, the use of hydrogen (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, carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) 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 CNM-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. CNM-based gas sensors have been developed and proved to perform very well for the detection of several analyte gases, such as ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), oxygen (O2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and H2.

The Spanish research group reports the preparation of H2 sensors based on Pd nanoparticle-doped CNMs by a very simple, low-cost procedure, using commercial single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) or carbon nanofibers (CNFs) as support. The procedure involves the preparation of the CNMs suspension and the metal nanoparticles suspension separately, and the consecutive deposition of the two suspensions onto a substrate to prepare the sensor (see Figure 1). This preparation protocol allows perfect control over the different components in the sensor, including the amount of CNMs and the size, shape and amount of metal deposited on them.

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 CNM 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. Then, these sensors can be applied in automotive and energy industries and in gas separation, gas production and fine chemistry activities.

The research group is mainly looking for companies interested in acquiring this technology for its commercial exploitation through license agreement. However, they would also be interested in contacting automotive and energy industries or gas separation, gas production and fine chemistry companies in order to establish technical cooperation agreements to further develop the technology or adapting it to their needs.
Advantages and Innovations:
The method employed to prepare this kind of sensor 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 CNMs has a paramount influence over the samples behaviour. As an example, the sensors prepared from the water suspension show an enhanced sensitivity with respect to dimethylformamide-based systems, due to the higher degree of dispersion of the SWCNTs and the characteristics of the nanoparticles/polymer/SWCNT system.

Major advantages:

· It does not require sophisticated instrumental techniques.
· The procedure uses 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 CNMs and nanoparticle suspensions needed are stable and may be stored over long periods of time.
Stage of Development:
Under development/lab tested
Patents granted
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
This technology is protected by a Spanish patent.

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
- Type of partner sought: companies
- Specific area of activity of the partner: automotive; energy; gas separation; gas production; fine chemistry.
- Task to be performed: Acquiring the technology; joint further development; adaptation to specific needs.


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


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