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Title: Passive Leak Detection Using Commercial Hydrogen Colorimetric Indicator

Element One, Inc. (, a small business with in Boulder, CO, has been developing hydrogen detection technology based upon a highly selective colorimetric indicator. In its native state, the indicator pigment is a pale gray color, but becomes black upon exposure to hydrogen. The colorimetric change can be readily observed by the naked eye without the need for supplemental electronics or other hardware. Recently, the colorimetric indicator was integrated into a pliable, self-adhesive tape that can readily wrap around pneumatic fittings to serve as a hydrogen leak detector. A prototype version of the Element One indicator tape was tested within an NREL hydrogen system and successfully identified the unexpected presence of a small leak; a summary document for this case study is presented in Appendix 1. The tape was subsequently configured into 10-foot rolls as a product prototype that has just recently been commercialized and marketed under the tradename DetecTape(R). Figure 1 shows the commercial version of DetecTape along with an indicator sample in its native state and one that had been exposed to hydrogen. DetecTape is a self-adhesive silicone-based tape impregnated with a proprietary hydrogen-sensitive indicator based on transition metal oxides. A length of the tape can be cutmore » from the roll and stretched by a factor of two or three times around a fitting. Due to the self-adhesive property of the tape, this provides a tight seal around the fitting. The seal is not hermetic, and is not intended to prevent the release of a leaking gas. However, a portion of the hydrogen leaking from a wrapped fitting will pass through the tape and react with the active indicator impregnated within the tape, thereby inducing blackening.« less
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  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fuel Cell Technologies Office; NREL Commercialization Assistance Program
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN hydrogen; hydrogen leaks; detection; colorimetric; sensor