Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics

Commercial application of applied research

Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) has successfully developed a new remote method for hydrogen detection with support from FIS360.

The client

Fraunhofer CAP works at the forefront of applied photonics research and development. Their laser and optical technologies find application in a range of industry sectors, from energy to life sciences to space. From their base in Glasgow, UK, Fraunhofer CAP works closely with a broad range of research and industry partners to develop, design, and test innovative and practical products and processes for industry application. Their novel technology developments are highly diverse, ranging from the application of quantum technologies in secure communications to the monitoring of structural integrity of offshore wind assets.

Fraunhofer CAP

Via the Game Changers Innovation Programme, Fraunhofer CAP became aware of the need for remote sensing and monitoring technologies in the nuclear decommissioning sector, to improve condition monitoring and inspection of stored waste material and containers. With support from FIS360 in engaging with key stakeholders in the nuclear industry, Fraunhofer CAP has successfully brought their hydrogen sensing technology into an active deployment trial on the Sellafield nuclear site. 

The technology

Fraunhofer CAP’s remote hydrogen sensing technology uses Raman spectroscopy, with highly sensitive high-speed photodetectors that enable remote measurement of the concentration of hydrogen down to 0.05% at a range of 0.1 to 100 metres. Hydrogen can be detected in sensitive, hazardous, and hard to access areas, while keeping operators and equipment separate and safe. The developed system is fast and flexible with scope to be adapted for detection of other substances.

Funding success

As delivery partners in the Game Changers Innovation Programme, our FIS360 innovation consultants provided sector-specific support and technology commercialisation advice to Fraunhofer CAP as they applied for proof-of-concept funding.  

Fraunhofer CAP and their innovative remote sensing technology impressed the Sellafield stakeholders, and they were awarded funding to enable them to work with Sellafield to tailor their technology to the specific needs of the nuclear decommissioning challenge. 

Active deployment and further opportunities

Over a two-year period, FIS360 has continued to play a key role in the development and commercialisation of Fraunhofer CAP’s remote hydrogen sensing technology. We have facilitated engagement across the Sellafield site, raising awareness of the potential applications of the technology. We have successfully supported Fraunhofer CAP in an active deployment trial of the technology, with the system shown to effectively monitor hydrogen levels at short range in a special nuclear materials store, where this type of measurement was not previously possible.

Fraunhofer CAP’s remote hydrogen sensing technology is now expected to be tested in a further active deployment trial at Sellafield for longer range applications. 

There are other industry sectors where the technology is of significant interest, including the oil and gas sector, and we are actively assisting Fraunhofer CAP in engaging with key stakeholders in this area, while exploring other opportunities and advising on commercialisation strategies for the technology as it is developed into a viable commercial product.

FIS360 are uniquely-placed partners with whom to develop technical relationships within the nuclear industry, and their additional focus on business development and sustainability means that technical outcomes stand the best chance of genuine impact and long-term commercial success. It is difficult to imagine how our current portfolio of projects could have ever materialised without their insight.Dr. David Stothard, Fraunhofer CAP, UK