H2scan, a California-based a provider of hydrogen sensors for industrial markets, has introduced a breakthrough new hydrogen sensor system that is the first of its kind for distribution transformers.

The new Gen 5 System is the first to provide hydrogen gas safety sensing, reducing explosion risk of distribution transformers and will cost up to 80% less. It is three times smaller than existing hydrogen monitoring systems, allowing monitoring to the 13m transformers under streets, in neighbourhoods, industrial sites, wind farms and trains.

The system is designed for transformers immersed in oil, which are cooled and insulated using mineral, vegetable, or silicon oil. The sensor can be inserted through any port on the transformer, directly into the transformer oil where it takes measurements of hydrogen gas levels.

“Power transformers are the most expensive and strategic components of any power system and the new small Gen 5 System acts as an early warning device that can alert the power utility to the health of the transformer,” said Dennis Reid, President, CEO and Founder of H2scan.

“Demand for electricity is growing and utilities sometimes have to overload these transformers by up to 300%. With the Gen 5 System, utilities can better manage these valuable assets, keep their customers safe and keep the transformers in service for a longer time. No other company in the world can compete against what we can offer in this Gen 5 platform. Our ASIC technology can be extended to other sensor applications and we will be delivering some of these products in 2019.”

Electronics for the Gen 5 System are consolidated on to a 4.7 x 4.7 1.2m-transistor, application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The ASIC, combined with three small 1” by 3” flex boards, allow H2scan to develop a sensor package that weighs 1 pound, is 5.9 inches long and 1.6 inches wide. The ASIC and small flex boards drives down the cost of the device in large volumes by 80%, allowing H2scan to sell the Gen 5 System package at a price that is cost effective for distribution transformers.

The Gen 5 sensor offers real-time, or step-change monitoring to report hydrogen levels as they fluctuate. Its high accuracy sensor head can track hydrogen levels in the transformer oil from 25 ppm to 5,000 ppm.