Emissions, Nuclear

DCH sensors selected for spacecraft, under test for NASA fuel cells

VALENCIA, Calif., Jan. 4, 2001 (PRNewswire) — DCH Technology, Inc. (AMEX: DCH), an innovator of hydrogen safety devices and hydrogen fuel cells, announced that they have been selected to develop a new hydrogen sensor for critical fuel containment systems on the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet, as well as on its X33 next generation of space vehicles.

A new, special version of the company’s patented Robust Hydrogen Sensor™ (RHS) will serve as a leak detector embedded in new seal systems being developed by Shape Change Technologies LLC, the prime contractor on a development program sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA).

NASA recently tested the existing RHS design in a fuel cell application and was very pleased with the results.

“The most difficult problem is detecting hydrogen contamination in the oxygen loops, where the sensor is subjected to a corrosive oxygen environment,” said David Bents, Manager of High Altitude and Power, NASA Glenn Lewis Field, Cleveland, Ohio. “We canvassed industry to find a hydrogen sensor capable of withstanding this environment, and DCH was the only manufacturer that had a product available.”

“We’ve now completed several weeks of testing the DCH Robust Hydrogen Sensor in oxygen, at chamber pressures up to 400 psi. The unit responded quickly to the hydrogen contamination test gas when it was introduced, tracking contaminant flux repeatedly at all chamber pressures tested.”

The sensor developed for the new seal system will be a special cryogenic — or deep-cold environment — version of the RHS. It was selected by Shape Change Technologies based on performance specifications. “It’s a very tough spec, and we believe our selection is another indicator that our technology is best-in-class. It’s a message we’ve already begun to bring to other markets,” said Dennis Reid, DCH Director of Marketing and Sales.

“Fuel cell cars of the future, for example, will require hydrogen, and that means they will also require hydrogen sensors. Several OEMs are working with us to put them on their vehicles. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hydrogen fueling stations that will serve these vehicles will also require sensors, as well as the factories where the vehicles are manufactured. The potential of an affordable, best-in-class, hydrogen-specific sensor is enormous.”

The Robust Hydrogen Sensor™ consists of thin-film technology embedded into an integrated circuit. The sensor logs and processes data based on sensed inputs and communicates information to a system control or human interface device. Dozens of sensors can be linked together to monitor a vehicle, industrial process, or factory. Its compact, rugged design allows it to be used in extreme operating conditions and severely confined spaces.

Recent market interest includes the purchase of — or commitment to purchase — sensors by five automobile OEMs and the purchase and installation of a 186-sensor based system at a Nuclear Power Plant in Leningrad, Russia.