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Every Sub-Second Counts: How a Fast Response Gas Sensor Improves Efficiency and Saves Lives

Ask an Olympic athlete who missed the gold medal by a millisecond or an ER doctor just how valuable a timely response can be. Similarly, in the world of gas sensing, every millisecond counts. The failure to control an explosive gas leakage in a high-pressure system can lead to fatalities and loss of property.

However, a reliable sensor with a sub-second response time and the ability to trigger early alarms can make all the difference in such situations.

In this blog, we will dive into the importance of a hyper-fast sensor response time when handling hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, and other hazardous and combustible gases.

The Importance of Fast Response Time

The response time of a sensor is commonly measured as a t90 value or the time it takes to record 90% of the target gas concentration. This is because most gas sensors respond exponentially to the slightest change between clean air and the test gas. In other words, the shorter the t90 response time, the better it is for averting disasters with prompt corrective action.

Response time varies depending upon the calibration gas flow rate and temperature but also the type of sensing technology. Take hydrogen sensing, for example - a catalytic combustion sensor can take anything between 20-50 seconds to achieve a t90 reading. Meanwhile, a thermal conductivity microsensor may only take 2-3 seconds to reach t90

Compare this with the 21senses PlatfoMEMS Omni-Gas Chip sensor. With a t90 response time of just a few hundred milliseconds, our groundbreaking multi-gas sensor provides you a substantial time window to act and control the leak.

Now, let's explore the game-changing implications of having a gas sensor with a sub-second response time for your business.

1. Enhanced Safety and Risk Mitigation

Nanomaterials and innovative sensing principles have made it possible for our multi-gas sensors to detect various potentially risky gases with a t90 of a few hundred milliseconds. Meanwhile, our fixed and portable hydrogen sensors can go from t20 (20% of test gas concentration) to t90 in just 0.5-2.5 seconds. Detection this fast is poised to be a game-changer in enhancing safety across gas applications, from hydrogen-powered cars to petroleum refining.

Highly responsive gas sensors aren’t just good for intercepting leaks early - they can also mitigate risk by acting quickly to unseen hazards. We’re talking about sensor-triggered alarm notifications that allow enough time for safety protocol to kick in in the form of ventilation actuation, equipment shutdown, and evacuation of the facility.

2. Process Optimization

Alongside gas leak alarms, our battery-operated wireless sensors are also designed to interface with remote monitoring systems such as SCADA to provide vital operation-related data, such as flow rates, temperatures, pressure, and more.

In the event of deviations or abnormal gas levels, our sensors detect and transmit real-time feedback to engineers, allowing them to proactively address the problem before it occurs. This helps businesses increase safety as well as cost-effectiveness by optimizing resources and minimizing unplanned downtime.

3. Prevention of Escalation with Early Alarm Notifications

If not caught early, a gas leak can spiral out of control within seconds, especially in confined spaces such as those found in battery rooms, refineries, or chemical plants. Highly sensitive and responsive sensors that can detect gases such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide at a ppm or LEL level become necessary to keep the risk of explosions, toxic fume inhalation, and reduced oxygen levels in check.

With timely alerts on localized leaks, fast response detectors can help nip the problem in the bud and protect lives by reducing the severity of the incident.

4. Compliance With Safety Regulations

ISO 26142:2010 standard indicates a t90 hydrogen detection response time of less than 30 seconds for stationary systems and hydrogen fuel stations. Fast and accurate detection is even more critical in fuel cell-powered electronic vehicles (FCEV), where hydrogen is stored on board at high pressure.

For car manufacturers, an ideal gas sensor looks something like this: a device that accurately detects hydrogen at extremely low concentrations with zero cross-sensitivity to background gases and a response time of less than a second - something not many other sensors in the market can claim. Our rugged and ultra-compact sensors fit easily in leak-prone areas of a vehicle to catch hydrogen leaks at 1 ppm level within 500 milliseconds.

5. Enabling Automation of Control Systems and Remote Monitoring

In oil and gas companies, engineers are usually off-site, remotely monitoring everything to keep the operations safe, incident-free, and efficient. A seamless flow of data from a responsive and reliable sensor is of tremendous value here. That’s not all. A sub-second response time opens up possibilities where safety systems can be automated for maximum damage prevention. Let’s deviate from gas sensing and see this in the context of crash sensing in automobiles.

Vehicles are now fitted with high-precision inertial MEMS sensors that can sense a large net change in the velocity of the vehicle and fire the airbags in response. The decision to release the airbags, however, has to be made within a few milliseconds, and this is where the sensor’s fast responsiveness comes into play.

Final Thoughts

Gas sensors with sub-second response time can go a long way in building a strong safety culture. At 21senses, our sensing technology and small form factor allow our multi-gas sensors and solid-state electrochemical hydrogen sensors to detect extremely low levels of concentration faster and more accurately than any other gas sensor out there.

Reach out to us today to know how our sensing solutions can help you make quicker, data-informed decisions to reduce incidents and grow your business, keeping the safety of your personnel at the forefront of everything.

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