HNEI’s Environmental Sensor Array Awarded U.S. Patent hneieditor April 8, 2021

HNEI’s Environmental Sensor Array Awarded U.S. Patent

Developed by HNEI researchers Mitch Ewan and Scott Higgins, a “smart” system called an Environmental Sensor Array enhances the longevity and performance of fuel cells. This system senses and reacts to changing air quality in real time and has been awarded a U.S. patent.

With the goal of operating fuel cell electric vehicles in harsh air environments, researchers focused on hydrogen purity and developing a software control “smart” system that allows for real-time feedback on the health of the air filtration system. This system allows vehicles to respond to changing air contaminant conditions by adjusting its operation, monitors its performance, and calculates remaining filter life.

“This device will significantly lower the operational and maintenance costs of operating fuel cell electric vehicles, prevent breakdowns and lower the cost barriers to replacing internal combustion vehicles,” said Higgins. “In addition, this device will allow fuel cells to operate reliably in environments they previously could not.”

This patented technology, funded by the Office of Naval Research, is currently being used in two fuel cell electric buses deployed in the County of Hawaiʻi’s public transportation bus fleet. More information regarding these buses can be found on the “NELHA Hydrogen Station and Fuel Cell Electric Buses” project summary. This technology can also be used on any stationary and mobile fuel cell power system.

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