Eddy current sensors for gas turbine health monitoring
QinetiQ has been developing a novel sensor system for the health monitoring of gas turbine engines since 2004. The so-called tip-timing system uses an eddy-current sensor to:
- Measure changes in the time of arrival of passing turbine blades to diagnose faults
- Monitor degradation
- Provide information for active control systems
This can lead to reduced engine lifecycle costs through better-scheduled maintenance, increased engine availability and improved safety.
The tip-timing system provides exploitable attributes of high measurement accuracy, robustness and the ability to operate continuously in harsh, high temperature gas turbine engine environments. The sensor system can address the needs of both aircraft and land-based industrial turbine operations, and we are developing products for both of these markets.
Our technology is currently being put through its paces in several engine trials. Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd, under QinetiQ Licence, is successfully running long-term sensor trials on its industrial power gas turbines and plans to deploy additional units across other operating sites.
Future horizons will get even hotter: we are further developing the sensor system to allow its use for high temperature turbine tip clearance applications, and expanding its sensing metrics to return even greater value to gas turbine operators. We are also now getting ready for head-to-head US-based ground trials against competing technologies for future aerospace deployment.
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