Passive, Wireless Sensor that Accurately Measures Pressure in Harsh Environments

Technology #16659

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Researchers
Mark Sheplak
John E. Rogers
Yong Kyu Yoon
Jack Judy
Managed By
Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Locally Determines Pressure and Fluid Flow in High-Temperature Applications Such as Gas Turbines to Prevent High Cycle Fatigue

This low-maintenance, passive wireless sensor uses a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) and radiofrequency waves to measure static and dynamic pressures accurately for applications in harsh environments, such as gas turbines. Many industries require pressure sensors that maintain accurate operation even when subject to severe environmental hazards. However, these harsh environments often damage the pressure sensors, which then demand regular maintenance. Notably, this problem occurs in high-temperature gas turbines, which are powered by the hot gases produced by burning fuel. Pressure fluctuations in the air flow across the turbine blades and vanes cause high cycle fatigue, the primary source of component failure in gas turbines. A sensor that can properly measure pressure in this harsh environment would better detect local pressure fluctuations and aid in preventing high cycle fatigue. Although optical sensors successfully measure pressure in harsh environments, they are quite expensive, use fragile filaments, and are difficult to package.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a sensor that functions wirelessly and passively to detect both static and dynamic pressure in high-temperature environments. The sensor can apply to a variety of applications requiring pressure measurement in the presence of high temperatures, such as gas turbines, jet engines, or nuclear power generators.

Application

Passive wireless pressure sensor that maintains operation in extreme environments

Advantages

  • Features components made of high-temperature compatible materials, allowing accurate pressure measurements even where temperatures exceed 1000°C
  • Measures pressure in high-temperature environments without using optical sensors, decreasing costs by avoiding expensive materials and difficult packaging
  • Requires minimal maintenance, reducing repair costs

Technology

This microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensor is both passive, meaning no internal energy sources such as batteries are required, and wireless. A diaphragm on the sensor deflects either downward or upward based on the surrounding pressure. The sensor attaches to an area of interest and uses radio frequency electromagnetic signals to communicate the current pressure of the environment with a computer-based simulation that analyzes the signals to determine the area’s fluid flow. This sensor can determine both static and dynamic pressures and also can detect uncontrolled fluid flow early, preventing any damage to engines or other equipment.