SBIR Phase I: Structural Imaging of High Temperature Furnace Walls
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
7056 Falls Reach Drive, Suite 302, Falls Church, VA, 22043-2393
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project addresses a major need in the glass manufacturing industry by developing a wireless sensor for 3?]D imaging of glass furnace walls to identify refractory erosion and molten glass leaks. The furnace walls are comprised of insulation and AZS (Alumina, Zirconium, Silica) refractories which are highly lossy and very dispersive at high temperatures. A conventional approach would inevitably be constrained by its system dynamic range, and thus the most important molten glass?]AZS echo would be virtually invisible regardless of the sophistication of digital processing on the measured results. This project takes a holistic approach from antenna design to imaging algorithm to sensor architecture in order to tackle very demanding requirements of the furnace wall. It aims to accomplish (1) accurate characterization of attenuation and dispersive properties of the furnace walls (2) optimal antenna design to match with minimum inter?]coupling, (3) high resolution imaging algorithm that leverages prior knowledge of wall properties, and (4) hardware architecture with the highest possible dynamic range in such a high temperature environment. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that it offers a 3?]D sensor that will enable a maintenance program based upon the real condition of the furnace to realize longer life span of high temperature furnaces and make informed local maintenance without a major interruption in the production. This translates to significant financial savings for the glass manufacturing industry given the multi?]million dollar initial capital investment is required to build a furnace, followed by a multi?]million dollar spending to maintain it. Further, several catastrophic accidents have occurred in the past due to molten glass leaking from the furnaces. These catastrophic accidents resulted in death of several employees, significant financial damage and severe production disruption. Therefore, this project will enable safer manufacturing environment for the glass manufacturing industry since potential areas for molten glass leakages and structural health of furnace walls will be assessed with the 3?]D imaging technology being developed under this project. Lastly, this research will also lead to new design concepts for sensing through dispersive and high loss media in extremely high temperature environment, thus introducing new approaches for wireless sensing technologies in harsh environments.
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