Gas sensors act as a critical component to ensure safety or meet regulations within energy systems. Sensors are important because they help to mitigate catastrophic events. These events end up tarnishing industry adoption, slowing growth, killing products, and bankrupting companies. The Hindenburg disaster took place 80 years ago, but it is still the go-to rebuttal to the safe implementation of fuel cells and the required hydrogen infrastructure. Through well-thought designs, robust quality controls, and sensor integration, the hydrogen fuel cell industry has not seen a significate accident since. The incorporation of hydrogen gas sensors into fuel cell systems is a low-cost insurance policy to help prevent the cost and harmful exposure to a catastrophic event.
The high cost of an accident is just one factor in determining the best sensor solution for your system. NTM Sensors has worked with industry leaders to identify the three key areas to a successful sensor. Our findings show that signal reliability, sensor life, and calibration frequency are the most important things to consider in the decision-making process.
Sensor devices need to work every time to ensure safety. False positives lead to end user nuisances or the loss of confidence in the system. False negatives can result in damage to systems, property, or personnel. Issues with signal reliability can often go unseen but can become a major contributor to the total cost of ownership for a sensor.
Learn more about the total cost of hydrogen gas sensors by watching this interview.
Gas sensor devices, in general, are consumable products needing periodic replacement to maintain functionality. Hydrogen sensors are no different. Sensor life will depend on a number of different environmental factors that contribute to aging of the device or poisoning of the sensing mechansims. Premature failures to sensors ahead of anticipated sensor life cause numerous problems and increase the cost of ownership of the sensor.
- Purchasing and inventorying replacement sensor
- Unscheduled visits to customer sites for non-value add services
- End user downtime
- System failure
Each of these areas directly or indirectly cut into profits, future revenues, and customer confidence. Using an expert is paramount to success.
Calibration is used to increase the life and maintain required accuracies of hydrogen gas sensors. Many of NTM Sensors’ partners did not realize the unseen costs associated with calibration. These costs include:
Off-site third party calibration
- Technician time to remove, replace, ship and coordinate the calibration of the sensor
- Add inventory costs for storing replacement sensors
- Shipping costs to and from the sensor calibration site
- End user disruptions
- Third party calibration costs
Calibration via controlled gasses
- Technician training
- Inventory of calibrated gasses
- End user disruptions
All of these expenses add to the total cost of ownership. Many of them can double or triple the final cost of the sensor in a few short years.