Turbine health management systems allow for detection, diagnosis, and prognosis of problems occurring within turbine components. When implemented, these systems will:
Allow for a more cost effective maintenance schedule and extended lifetime of turbine systems
Provide early detection and diagnosis of turbine component faults, potentially helping to prevent catastrophic failures
Allow for in-situ data acquisition to provide valuable engine design information
Some of the most mechanically stressed components within a turbine unit include the bearing assemblies and turbine blades. Precise monitoring of these component’s parameters (such as temperature, vibration, strain, and pressure) can serve several purposes for both aircraft turbines as well as power generation systems. By analyzing data from these systems, engine maintenance will not need to be performed until it is necessary, rather than at regularly scheduled intervals, thereby saving a great deal of time and money. Real-time detection and diagnosis of faults in aircraft turbine bearings can not only alert the pilot that there is a problem in the engine, but also inform the maintenance crew where the actual fault is occurring. Both power generation and aircraft turbine designers can also benefit from data collected during continuous field operation of their engines, allowing for design improvements in safety, reliability, and efficiency of future systems.
APEI, Inc. is currently developing extreme environment (up to 600 °C @ 15,000 g’s) wireless telemetry systems based on specialized high-temperature silicon on insulator (HTSOI) and silicon carbide (SiC) electronics with reliable high-temperature packaging techniques and materials which may be directly implemented to critical internal components in jet turbines, rocket engines, and combustion engines. There is clearly a potentially lucrative market here when one considers the additional high performance applications of aerospace jet and rocket engines, or the high volume market of the automotive industry. Besides military aircraft applications, this technology could directly benefit vehicles in the Army’s Future Combat Systems program; including monitoring the health of an array of elements in military vehicle power and drive trains. The Navy can also directly benefit from this technology by implementation of wireless sensor systems in naval aircraft systems, as well as in power generation turbines on naval ships.