Enhanced Oil Quality Monitor for USAF Aircraft Applications
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Maintaining the health of fluid systems has always been critical to preventing problems and keeping Air Force equipment at a high state of readiness and availability. Current fluid quality practices in most applications still rely heavily on off-line analysis to screen for oil quality, debris, and contaminations. While off-line laboratory analysis may be the most accurate means to identify oil properties and degradations, it tends to be slow, labor intensive, expensive, and perhaps surprisingly, rife with opportunity for contamination or operator errors.There is an opportunity to improve aircraft system availability by installing on-line fluid quality monitoring systems. In this program, two opportunities will be addressed. Hydraulic system mules are used by ground crew to power onboard hydraulic system when aircraft are on the ground. These systems often power multiple systems on a single aircraft and are often moved between aircraft. A custom sensor package will be developed and deployed to continuously monitor hydraulic oil health. Second, Impact Technologies has developed a novel fluid quality sensor targeting lubricating oils. This phase of the program will prove the feasibility of utilizing this proprietary sensor onboard C-130 aircraft by demonstrating its performance on a T-56 engine/gearbox test cell. BENEFIT: Lubrication and hydraulic oil contamination and breakdown can lead to performance degradation or failure in many systems. While experts' estimates on the percentage of all mechanical failures that are lubricant related vary between 30 and 80%, all of these estimates are unacceptably high when even a single failure can have catastrophic consequences. Maintaining proper oil health is especially challenging in military equipment expected to perform at and sometimes beyond their design limits in a broad range of environmental conditions. Poor oil health can stem from a number of natural sources such as water ingress, insufficient cooling, dirt/silica ingress, and additive depletion as well as more anomalous sources such as improper/infrequent servicing and mechanical failure (cracked seals, metallic debris). Because maintaining proper oil health is critical to safe operation of mechanical systems, and because conventional schedule-based maintenance intervals and oil sampling routines still allow for significant contamination and degradation to occur, an in-situ, on-line monitoring mechanism is required. There are numerous benefits of an online approach including: Detection of improper servicing alerting maintainers and operators when a non standard lubricant is detected. General improvement in hydraulic fluid systems maintenance enabling the eventual implementations of Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) practices. General improvement in lubrication maintenance enabling reductions in total cost of ownership and safety of flight. Improved data availability enabling depot and AF-wide variability analysis. Provide monitoring between fluid sampling periods decreasing the opportunity for missed detections caused by sudden changes in fluid conditions. Provide time, platform and fluid type correlated data allowing for detailed root cause analysis. Rapid and accurate detection of fluid contaminants reducing the potential damage to aircraft and increased flight safety. Trigger lubrication system maintenance actions reducing oil sampling and oil change frequency.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Impact Technologies, LLC
200 Canal View Blvd Rochester, NY 14623
Number of Employees: