Release Date: January 18, 2017
Smart Sensing Technology Moving Toward Commercialization
Sensing technology developed for gas turbines by the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) as part of a cooperative agreement with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is advancing toward commercial use. The technology, called Additive Topology Optimized Manufacturing with embedded Sensing (ATOMeS), seamlessly integrates wireless sensors into aero- and ground-based turbine engine components using additive manufacturing—a process for building objects by adding layer upon layer of material, similar to 3D printing, but on an industrial scale using a combination of metals and ceramics.
Gas turbines are key components of advanced systems designed for new electric power plants in the United States. NETL and its research partners are developing technologies that will enable these turbines to operate cleanly and efficiently when fueled with coal-derived synthesis gas and hydrogen fuels. These breakthroughs are critical to the creation of power-generation technologies with near-zero emissions.
In a 3-year project with NETL, UTRC demonstrated the ATOMeS system by embedding commercial, off-the-shelf sensors into a test structure similar to a first-stage compressor vane. Sensors measuring three attributes were included: an angular position sensor, a temperature sensor, and an accelerometer. Using additive techniques and a novel design, a “smart part” was fabricated capable of transmitting its temperature, position, and vibrational data back to a data analyzer outside of the test chamber. This information allows engineers to reduce maintenance costs, save energy, and increase the reliability of gas turbines.
Due to the success of this effort, United Technologies business units have actively engaged in further developing the technology, using internal investment. ATOMeS is now being supported and assessed by these units for acceptance into product readiness.