Innovators at NASA\'s Marshall Space Flight Center have designed a gas sensor that utilizes optical properties to monitor and detect leaks in pressurized systems such as cryogenic tanks and distribution systems and in vacuum conditions such as in space. The sensor optically measures even low-level gas leaks in a vacuum using principles of optical refraction. It is straightforward to implement with minimal power requirements and offers lowered project risk and the ability to operate in hazardous conditions. The innovation is an enabling technology for leak detection in space-based applications and also can be used for gas systems health monitoring (cryogenic or otherwise) in industrial manufacturing and storage facilities.
1) Effective: Provides highly accurate sensing of even low-level gas leaks and can provide a time-history of leaks to determine severity (with time-accuracy demonstrated to 10 ns) lowering project risk 2) Sensitive: Provides resolution to 10 mtorr (13 micro-atmospheres) with a development path to obtain resolution to 10 microtorr (13 billionths of an atmosphere) 3) Versatile: Operates in vacuum conditions cryogenic environments and hazardous locations 4) Efficient: Requires a minimal level of power (about 100 mW per detector) for the light source and offers straightforward implementation 5) Streamlined: Offers a smaller overall system (about the size of a deck of cards) while improving detection capabilities compared to other gas sensor systems