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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

In-Situ Real-Time Temperature Monitoring of Thermal Protection Systems, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This program addresses the need for interfacial and in-depth temperature monitoring of thermal protection systems (TPS). Novel, linear drive, eddy current methods are proposed that incorporate innovative sensor array constructs, physics-based models, and multivariate inverse methods to nondestructively assess temperatures for carbon-based TPS materials such as felts and PICA. The sensors can be mounted behind the TPS material or embedded within the TPS with sensing fields that are projected through the material to the far surface interface. Thermally induced changes in the electrical properties of the TPS material are then used to determine the temperatures. In Phase I, the focus is on establishing feasibility by demonstrating correlations between electrical properties measured by the eddy current sensors and the TPS temperature. It will also investigate adaptation of the sensor materials to support sustained and transient operation at high temperatures compared to typical operating conditions for standard eddy current sensors. JENTEK's physics-based methods for diagnostics of layered media using MWM-Array technologies have been demonstrated in scanning configurations for coating characterization, corrosion detection and sizing with and without interference layers, and condition and thickness assessment of felt-based TPS materials. These methods have also been extended to surface mounted sensing applications such as torque, fatigue, and heat treatment condition monitoring. JENTEK delivered the MWM-Array solution used by NASA KSC on the Space Shuttle leading edge to detect damage of the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) thermal protection tiles; thus after establishing the property correlations with temperature, JENTEK is well-positioned to deliver a novel method for temperature monitoring of TPS materials and material condition monitoring at elevated temperatures. More »

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