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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Novel Hydrogen Sulfide Sensors for Portable Monitors

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorStephen Williams
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorSafety
Broad Research Categories Response
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$849,995.00
Annual Funding$169,999.00
Funding SourceNIOSH
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2001
Anticipated End Year2006


The primary objective for this project is the design, development, and demonstration of better sensor technology for the decoration of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic, colorless, flammable gas that reacts with enzymes that inhibit cell respiration. At high concentrations hydrogen sulfide can literally shut off the lungs, while lower levels can burn the respiratory tract and cause eye irritation.

This gas is encountered in a wide range of industries, and a number of standards have been established for occupational exposure. The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (STEL) is 15 ppm, and exposures of 300 ppm of greater are considered immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH). Because of the potential for adverse health effects at low concentrations, the industrial hygiene community is continually seeking improved performance from hydrogen sulfide sensors. Specific requirements include reliable and accurate detection in real-time, quantitative measurement for capabilities, low purchase and life cycle costs, and low power consumption for portability. Sensors meeting these requirements will find numerous applications within the health and safety field. In addition, there are several potential spin-off opportunities in leak detection, emission monitoring, and process control. Alternative ceramic oxide materials and a unique multi-layer fabrication process to accomplish the objectives of this project will be utilized. The work plan includes optimization of the sensor materials, sensor element fabrication, sensor element packaging, in-house and external evaluation of the sensors, and establishing the foundation for new instrument development. The ultimate aim is a low-cost power sensor that can be used in a new type of personal monitor. The envisioned monitor is a low-profile, credit card sized “smart card” that can not only alert the wearer when unsafe concentrations have been countered, but also to track cumulative individual worker exposure to a particular toxic gas species.