H100 NIA: Hydrogen Odorant and Gas Detection

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H100 NIA: Hydrogen Odorant & Gas Detection

H100 NIA: Hydrogen Odorant & Gas Detection diagram

Project Name: Hydrogen Odorant and Gas Detection
Project Lead: SGN
Partners: NPL

Our Odorant and Gas Detection element of the H100 project is element is split into two work packages focused on investigating various odorants and portable gas detection instruments for suitability in hydrogen detection.


This work package focused on identifying a suitable odorant for use in a 100% hydrogen gas grid and domestic end-use such as boilers and cookers. The research involved a review of existing odorants (used primarily for natural gas), and the selection of five suitable odorants based on the available literature. One odorant was selected based on possible suitability with a fuel cell vehicle which could in future be a possible end-user of grid hydrogen.

Odorisation of natural gas is a simple and effective way of allowing customers to quickly identify a gas escape in the home. Currently in the UK, this odorant is a Sulphur-based compound, which can deliver an unpleasant smell even when the natural gas has been diluted to below the lower explosive limit. 

For this project we will adopt the same requirement for hydrogen gas by evidencing through laboratory testing and analysis to fully understand whether the currently used odorant is suitable for use in hydrogen, or if an alternative odorant must be used.

Gas Detection

Our Gas Detection phase of this H100 element has been developed to assess whether there is a portable gas detection instrument currently available to detect hydrogen in a wide range of concentrations as specified in industry standards (INQ3 and INQ4)

For this assessment, the team will identify what detection instruments are available globally that potentially meet the requirements needed for hydrogen detection. Then a review will be carried out to assess their suitability for use by our emergency and engineering teams to detect a hydrogen gas leak. These detection instruments require testing in a number of ‘performance requirements’, such as operating under extreme temperatures and pressures, the effects of humidity, the response to different gases (hydrogen and natural gas), the warm up time, time of response and more.

If an instrument is identified as suitable we will used it to track and locate any external or internal hydrogen gas escapes. It will need to meet the current specifications for portable gas detection instruments and be compliant with all current industry standards and procedures.

The results will establish which detectors respond with different sensitivities to natural gas and hydrogen or if a new gas detection instrument is to be created for use on our network.