The successful development of high temperature sensors opens new ways to control and monitor thermal and structural loads in high temperature environments. These situations are very critical for the performance of propulsion systems as well as hypersonic and space vehicles. Printed high temperature sensor technology allows the placement of sensors on difficult-to-access areas, on surfaces with single or double curvature, and on places where current technologies are too bulky such as thin blades or thin parts. Furthermore, thanks to their light weight, the proposed printed ultra-high temperature sensors can be deposited on multiple points, creating sensing arrays to monitor large areas without imposing a weight penalty on the system. This is an excellent value proposition for NASA where every ounce counts. NASA applications for integrated high temperature structural health monitoring sensors are extremely varied for both atmospheric and space systems. Some potential applications for the proposed technology include turbine engines, combustion monitoring, rocket nozzles, hypersonic structures, reactor components, pressure vessels, thermal protection systems for reentry, thermal management for space structures, integration of sensing elements on or within 3D printed ceramic structural components and lifecycle management of reusable spacecraft.
Qi2 has a long history of supplying nondestructive evaluation tools and services to the petrochemical industry. Structural health monitoring (SHM) needs in high temperature environments are currently underserved in refineries, furnaces and other facilities that operate at temperatures up to 1000 C. Such locations are at risk for deformation and failure from creep rupture, creep fatigue at welds, creep fatigue cracking at bends, overheating and environmental attack, e.g., nitriding. Currently examination of such locations requires taking the facility off line for dye penetrant or radiography tests. In situ structural health monitoring would improve up time and minimize catastrophic failure. Qi2 has an ongoing project for smart sensing of the exterior of aircraft. One significant gap in the current sensing scheme is the jet engines, which are outside the temperature range of current sensors. The proposed high temperature sensing technology will be also be useful for incorporating strain and temperature sensors in hypersonic aircraft as desired by the U.S. Air Force. The technology will be suitable to instrument not only hypersonic wind tunnel aerodynamic testing models but also to be implemented on hypersonic flying structures.