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Proceedings Paper

Fiber optic hydrogen detection system
Author(s): Alex A. Kazemi; David B. Larson; Mark D. Wuestling
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Paper Abstract

Commercial and military launch vehicles are designed to use hydrogen as the main propellant, which is very volatile, extremely flammable, and highly explosive. Current detection systems uses Teflon transfer tubes at a large number of vehicle locations through which gas samples are drawn and the stream analyzed by a mass spectrometer. A concern with this approach is the high cost of the system. Also, the current system does not provide leak location and is not in real-time. This system is very complex and cumbersome for production and ground support measurement personnel. The fiber optic micromirror sensor under development for cryogenic environment relies on a reversible chemical interaction causing a change in reflectivity of a thin film of coated Palladium. The magnitude of the reflectivity change is correlated to hydrogen concentration. The sensor uses only a tiny light beam, with no electricity whatsoever at the sensor, leading to devices that is intrinsically safe from explosive ignition. The sensor, extremely small in size and weight detects, hydrogen concentration using a passive element consisting of chemically reactive microcoatings deposited on the surface of a glass microlens, which is then bonded to an optical fiber. The system uses a multiplexing technique with a fiber optic driver-receiver consisting of a modulated LED source that is launched into the sensor, and a photodiode detector that synchronously measures the reflected signal. The system incorporates a microprocessor (or PC) to perform the data analysis and storage, as well as trending and set alarm function. As it is a low cost system with a fast response, many more detection sensors can be used that will be extremely helpful in determining leak location for safety of crew and vehicles during launch operations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 December 1999
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3860, Fiber Optic Sensor Technology and Applications, (9 December 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.373005
Show Author Affiliations
Alex A. Kazemi, Boeing Co. Space & Communications Group (United States)
David B. Larson, NexGen Research Corp. (United States)
Mark D. Wuestling, NexGen Research Corp. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3860:
Fiber Optic Sensor Technology and Applications
Michael A. Marcus; Brian Culshaw, Editor(s)

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