SBIR Phase II: IDT Sensors for Monitoring Wind Energy Infrastructure

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1058443
Agency Tracking Number: 1058443
Amount: $499,734.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: Phase II
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
965 Capstone Drive, Suite 308, Miamisburg, OH, 45342-6717
DUNS: 927253195
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Carl Druffner
 (937) 865-4046
Business Contact
 Carl Druffner
Title: PhD
Phone: (937) 865-4046
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will demonstrate an inspection and monitoring sensor system that addresses the problem of structural evaluation of composite components with an innovative nondestructive evaluation (NDE) sensor system. Composites have always been a challenge for inspection due to their multilayer and anisotropic material construction. This challenge is increased when dealing with wind turbine blades due to their enormous size, construction, strength requirements, operational environment, and safety considerations. The Phase II effort will further upgrade and refine the sensor operational capabilities developed in Phase I. The signal to noise ratio and inspection coverage area (sensor footprint) will be further improved. The system capability will be expanded so that a single control unit can operate and receive data from a networked array of sensor. The sensor system will have application during manufacture to verify part quality, for pre- and post-installation inspection to check for shipping or assembly damage and during the component?s service life as a structural health monitor system. These sensors offer the possibility for substantial savings and reduction of downtime as manufacturing defects are discovered at the point of origin, before catastrophic blade failure can occur. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to facilitate the economical installation and operation of wind energy generators. The U.S. has set a goal of 20% (300GW) of electrical power to be generated from wind by 2030. Based on the typical utility scale turbine (1.5-2.0MW) this translates to having over 500,000 turbine blades in domestic service by 2030. Depending on the wind turbine size, blade costs are $55k to $300k each with a 1.5-2.0MW turbine costing $2-3M to install. The growth of wind energy represents a huge manufacturing challenge to produce, install and maintain the turbine blades. The sensor system developed during this program has the potential to detect defects or damage both early in the supply chain and during the life cycle so that expensive energy capacity downtime or catastrophic tower failures can be avoid. Blade failure is not only a cost issue but also a safety one as well. An accurate method for inspection of complex blade structures can have a major economic impact on the industry. The sensor system being developed also has use in Aerospace and Infrastructure/Bridge applications.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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