NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 10.03-1322

PROJECT TITLE: A new, low cost, portable hydrogen leak detector

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

NASA requires a variety of sensors to verify the safety of launch and landing areas. We propose the development of a small, portable, hydrogen leak detector capable of measuring hydrogen concentrations between 100 and 100,000 ppm in helium, nitrogen, and air. Our approach uses a recently invented microscale mass spectrometer with a membrane separator sampling system to achieve the target sensitivity, selectivity and a response time of less than 15 seconds. The proposed system is completely self-contained (including vacuum pumping) and can fit within a soda can (including electronics). We anticipate continuous, maintenance-free operation for at least one year. We will combine the microscale mass spectrometer (MS) now being developed by Mass Sensors, LLC., with Southwest Sciences expertise in developing methods for continuous monitoring of trace gases. The new, microscale mass spectrometer provides high mass resolution because it is a true double focusing spectrometer using merege magnetic and electrostatic fields, and it provides high sensitivity because it is compatible with conventional, ion-multiplier-style detectors. Since mass spectrometers are universal detectors, our design is adaptable to a wide range of chemical sensor needs, while undercutting the price of currently available commercial instruments by at least an order of magnitude.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

Commercial applications extend well beyond leak detection, particularly if Mass Sensors' MS technology is combined with one of Southwest Sciences' patented improvements to mass spectroscopy, ionization energy modulation. The resulting technology will have obvious commercial application to automotive emissions testing, air quality monitoring, industrial hygiene, environmental cleanup monitoring, and industrial process control for semiconductor fabrication and petrochemical production. Biomedical applications include blood gas monitoring and anesthesia delivery control.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

David S. Bomse
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco Street; Suite E-11
Santa Fe , NM 87505-3993

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco St. Suite E-11
Santa Fe , NM 87505-3993