Test Methodologies for Hydrogen Sensor Performance Assessment: Chamber vs. Flow Through Test Apparatus: Preprint

William Buttner, Kevin Hartmann, Rafeal Cebolla, Eveline Weidner, Christian Bonato, Kara Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Certification of hydrogen sensors to standards often prescribes using large-volume test chambers [1, 2]. However, feedback from stakeholders such as sensor manufacturers and end-users indicate that chamber test methods are often viewed as too slow and expensive for routine assessment. Flow through test methods potentially are an efficient, cost-effective alternative for sensor performance assessment. A large number of sensors can be simultaneously tested, in series or in parallel, with an appropriate flow through test fixture. The recent development of sensors with response times of less than 1s mandates improvements in equipment and methodology to properly capture the performance of this new generation of fast sensors; flow methods are a viable approach for accurate response and recovery time determinations, but there are potential drawbacks. According to ISO 26142 [1], flow through test methods may not properly simulate ambient applications. In chamber test methods, gas transport to the sensor can be dominated by diffusion which is viewed by some users as mimicking deployment in rooms and other confined spaces. Alternatively, in flow through methods, forced flow transports the gas to the sensing element. The advective flow dynamics may induce changes in the sensor behaviour relative to the quasi-quiescent condition that may prevail in chamber test methods. One goal of the current activity in the JRC and NREL sensor laboratories [3, 4] is to develop a validated flow through apparatus and methods for hydrogen sensor performance testing. In addition to minimizing the impact on sensor behaviour induced by differences in flow dynamics, challenges associated with flow through methods include the ability to control environmental parameters (humidity, pressure and temperature) during the test and changes in the test gas composition induced by chemical reactions with upstream sensors. Guidelines on flow through test apparatus design and protocols for the evaluation of hydrogen sensor performance are being developed. Various commercial sensor platforms (e.g., thermal conductivity, catalytic and metal semiconductor) were used to demonstrate the advantages and issues with the flow through methodology.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2017
Event7th International Conference on Hydrogen Safety (ICHS 2017) - Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 11 Sep 201713 Sep 2017


Conference7th International Conference on Hydrogen Safety (ICHS 2017)
CityHamburg, Germany

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-68783


  • hydrogen
  • hydrogen sensors
  • safety sensors
  • test methods


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