Fiber Optic Sensors for Self-Diagnostic
Condition Engineering is developing novel fiber optic sensors to continuously monitor the structural integrity and changes in temperature of high-temperature materials. Using MEMS technology, the fiber optic sensors will be coupled to local data processing and communication modules. The sensing system will serve to self-diagnose the location of dangerous conditions within the structure and alert the appropriate personnel.
- Thermal Protection Systems;
- Hot Structures;
- Leading Edges, including Carbon-Carbon Composites;
- Missile Nosetips;
- Heatshields, including re-entry heatshields;
- Furnace Insulation.
The fiber optic sensing system can either be used for local monitoring; such as along a spacecraft’s wing leading edge, or for widespread monitoring; such as throughout an entire heatshield of a re-entry spacecraft.
Benefits of the fiber optic sensors and sensing system include:
- Enhances reliability of critical high-temperature components;
- Continuous monitoring of structural integrity and temperature;
- Low power consumption;
- Sensors incorporated either during or after manufacture of high-temperature components;
- Ability to sense at various depths within high-temperature components;
- Applicable for ground testing and in-flight operation of high-temperature materials and structures;
- Fiber optic sensors are immune to, and do not cause electromagnetic interference;
- Sensors can be networked together to form an intelligent Distributed Monitoring System.
Successful testing within representative thermal protection material
Testing of the alpha prototype of the monitoring system has been completed. Fiber optic sensors have been embedded within representative thermal protection materials and successfully detected structural damage and monitored changes in temperature, up to 700°C. Detecting high-temperatures experienced during re-entry conditions is expected.
See Distributed Monitoring System to learn how Condition Engineering can offer widespread monitoring solutions for high-temperature systems.