Hydrogen Leak Detection By HySense

Hydrogen is a great rocket fuel, but it can be tricky to handle. The tiniest and lightest atom in existence, it finds the tiniest cracks, possibly into places where its extreme flammability becomes a problem.


(HySense leak detection tape)

In the early days of the space program, inspectors held brooms to the pipes as they slowly walked the lines. If the broom’s head began to burn, they knew there was a leak burning. Later, during the launches of the 1980s and ’90s, they used ultraviolet sensors to detect flames; to find non-burning leaks they began utilizing electrochemical and combustible gas sensors.

The team of researchers started with a Japanese patent for a hydrogen-detection tape that changes color when exposed to the substance, but they wanted to make the color change more noticeable. The team tested different combinations of the two active chemicals in the tape, palladium oxide and titanium oxide, to find a mix that had the right color contrast, could create a fast reaction and could be applied to a silicone-based tape.

Two years later, another team of scientists and engineers from Kennedy improved the tape to make it robust enough to withstand harsh conditions ranging from shuttle launches to unruly weather.

The tape got its first real-world test with the launch of STS-118 in 2007, where it quickly proved its worth: Kennedy’s area sensors detected the presence of hydrogen on the launch pad, and the hydrogen tape pinpointed the exact location of the leak so that crews could address it. Afterward, the tape was used for every launch through STS-134 in 2011, the program’s penultimate mission.

NASA and FSEC entered into a Space Act Agreement and a licensing agreement to sell the tape commercially, resulting in the creation of Rockledge, Florida-based HySense Technology.

Science fiction writers have been thinking about this problem for a long time. Heinlein wrote about tagalongs in 1948 for use inside space stations and space habitats.

However, the great Leo Zagat described the following method of leak detection in his 1932 story The Great Dome of Mercury:

"Look!" he grunted, and jerked a grim jaw at one of the dials. The long needle was moving rapidly to the right. "I can't hold the air pressure!"

"Wow, what a leak!" Darl started forward. "How's it below, in the mine?"

"Normal. It's the Dome air that's going!"

"Shoot on the smoke and I'll spot the hole. Quick, man!"

"Okay!"

Thomas' long legs shot him out of the headquarters tent. Just beyond the entrance flap was one of the two gyrocopters used for flying within the Dome. He leaped into the cockpit and drove home the starter-piston. The flier buzzed straight up, shooting for the misted roof.

The Earthman fought to steady his craft against the hurricane wind, while his gray eyes swept the three-mile circle of the vault's base. He paled as he noted the fierce speed with which the white smoke-jets were being torn from the pipe provided for just such emergencies. His glance followed the terrific rush of the vapor. Big as a man's head, a hole glared high up on the Dome's inner surface. Feathered wisps of tell-tale vapor whisked through it at blurring speed.

You might also enjoy additional leak detection stories; feast your eyes on Ultrasonic Noise Betrays ISS Leaks and Small Spherical Robots Needed For Radiation Leak Testing.

Via NASA and @nyrath of Atomic Rocketships.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/15/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1952.

Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
'That sail will be twenty thousand miles at the wide part.' - Cordwainer Smith, 1960.

ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
'Out in the New Moon, just ask for what you want...' - Jack Williamson, 1939.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...'

Pub Installs Electrified Fence Around Bar
'I start twelve immensely strong wires--naked, not insulated --from a big dynamo...'

What Does A Tesla Full Self-Driving Car See?
'All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures...'

BioVYZR Is Ready, Anti-Covid19 PAPR Lovers
'Some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'

Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.