High-Temperature Sensors for Turbine Industry

Our National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps project is based on the damage from undetected hot-spots in turbine engines as a common industry problem, whereas costs in repairs, maintenance, and unplanned downtime are substantial. It was discovered that a gas turbine engine overheated, costing $1.9 million in unscheduled maintenance and turbine downtime of 10 days. Industrial gas turbine production is expected to increase over the next 14 years. These turbines will operate at much higher temperatures to achieve higher efficiencies, thereby being prone to more incidents that involve overheating. Hotspots go undetected because thermocouples are not capable of being placed in pertinent areas and because of bulky cables that restrict placement inside gas turbines. Over the life cycle of a turbine engine, it has the potential to overheat at least once, leading to a commercial impact of $114.7 billion based on forecasted production of gas turbines over the next 14 years.

This I-Corps project is based on wireless passive sensors that have significant impacts on a new class of sensor technology which is suitable for harsh-environment applications such as turbines, rockets, and fuel cells. This technology can provide reliable long-term sensing to increase the efficiency, improve the operational reliability and reduce the pollution for many systems. A temperature sensor using dielectric resonator structure, a low-profile reflective patch temperature sensor, and a pressure sensor based on evanescent-mode resonator structure, were demonstrated up to 1300oC. These sensors are made of high-temperature-stable and corrosion-resistant Silicoboron Carbonitride (SiBCN) ceramic materials which are suitable for harsh-environment applications. The fundamental science for the temperature sensors is in that the dielectric constant of SiBCN materials monotonically increases versus temperature. Therefore, by designing the sensor as a microwave resonator and by wirelessly detecting its resonant frequency, the temperature of the sensor can be extracted from the resonant frequency. On the other hand, the pressure sensor uses an evanescent-mode resonator structure, in which an air gap dimension decreases when the external pressure increases, causing a decrease in the resonant frequency.

Technology Lineage:

  • - U.S. Department of Energy Awarded University of Central Florida $1,013,991 for Online, In-Situ Monitoring Combustion Turbines Using Wireless Passive Ceramic Sensors
  • - National Science Foundation Awarded University of Central Florida $299,826 for Wireless Passive Ceramic MEMS Sensors for High-Temperature Applications




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