Optical Systems, Inc. (IOS), a privately held R&D company specializing
in the design and development of proprietary optical communications,
monitoring and signal processing technologies, announced today that a
team of scientists from IOS and The Boeing Company has
successfully demonstrated the world’s first fiber optic hydrogen leak
detection system during a static fire test on a Delta IV orbital
rocket at the NASA Stennis Space Center.

Reuben Sandler, President and Chief Executive Officer of IOS,
said, “We solved the problem of real time hydrogen leak detection
inside and outside of the launch vehicle with a multi-point fiber
optic sensor system, which is composed of a low-cost light source,
standard telecommunications-grade optical fiber as the transmission
medium and easy-to-manufacture optrodes with temperature sensitive

“By using optoelectronic sensors instead of electrochemical
technology, we enjoyed several distinct advantages: First, since
optical sensors require no power at the sensing point, there is no
danger of faulty wiring causing a spark. Second, these sensors are
immune to electromagnetic interference and operate effectively in a
wide variety of media. Third, optical fiber is flexible and resistant
to temperature extremes and many caustic chemicals. Clearly, optical
sensors are superior to the current technology utilizing
electrochemical sensors connected to multiple monitoring units by
copper wiring. This antiquated system increases payload weight and
power consumption, not to mention the potential for explosion caused
by electromagnetic interference or a simple spark.”

“We made history by being the first to test successfully a fiber
optic hydrogen detection system on a launch vehicle. IOS Senior Vice
President and Chief Technical Officer Robert Lieberman and Lead
Scientist Kish Goswami assembled a team that made the first phase of
this extremely difficult and challenging program a complete success.
We look forward to working with IOS on the second phase of this
program and on future projects,” said Alex Kazemi, Common Booster Core
Advanced Product Development Leader, The Boeing Company.

Sandler explained that liquid hydrogen, which is dangerously
flammable and even explosive, is used as fuel in virtually all orbital
rockets because of its efficiency and relatively low weight and that
NASA has a critical need for a methodology capable of detecting
potentially catastrophic leaks from cryogenic tanks and tubing
containing high-energy propellants.

“The sensor system, which utilizes optical transduction
technology, logs and processes data based on real-time inputs and
stored calibration parameters. The sensor outputs are displayed
instantaneously to facilitate immediate corrective actions. Multiple
sensors are linked together to monitor a wide variety of critical
points, and the innovative design allows the sensors to be effective
in demanding operating conditions and confined spaces,” Sandler added.

“The commercial opportunities for hydrogen sensing and cryogenic
gas leak detection are expanding rapidly for various hydrogen fuel
markets such as micro or portable fuel cells, vehicular fuel cells and
stationary fuel cells. In the not too distant future micro hydrogen
fuel cells will power tomorrow’s cell phones, laptop computers and
digital organizers. Closer at hand are portable fuel cells that will
power larger devices such as gardening equipment, cordless tools,
office devices and medical equipment. Vehicular fuel cells will power
cars, trucks and buses. Stationery fuel cells will be designed to
power anything from a highway sign to a house to an office building to
an entire city. Safe hydrogen storage and distribution infrastructures
will be needed. No matter what the size of the fuel cell or storage
tank, hydrogen sensors will be needed to ensure safety,” Sandler

“It was a logical choice to team with Boeing on this project.
Their long history as a leading ground breaker in aeronautical
innovation provided IOS with an enviable base of knowledge and
experience to help develop a safe, accurate hydrogen leak detection
system for space launch vehicles.

“Our collaboration with Boeing on this project is an excellent
example of our strategy to commercialize IOS’s portfolio of
intellectual property through partnerships, joint ventures and other
affiliations. The proprietary optical communications, monitoring and
signal processing technologies we have developed over the past decade
also have exciting applications in medical diagnostics, fiber optic
communications, aerospace and other industries with enormous growth
potential,” Sandler said.

Phase One of the hydrogen leak detection project was initiated at
IOS by a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the NASA
Stennis Space Center followed by funding from Boeing. Further
engineering of the system will be supported by a Phase Two SBIR grant,
and commercialization of the technology is being funded by a CalTIP
grant from the State of California.

About Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc.

Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc. ( is a
privately held R&D company based in Torrance, California that
specializes in the design and development of proprietary optical
communications, monitoring and signal processing technologies.