Belgian Scientists Make Offshore Renewables Smart with Nanotechnology

Belgian Scientists Make Offshore Renewables Smart with Nanotechnology

Nanoelectronics research center imec, Ghent University, and their partners in the European FP7 project SMARTFIBER have demonstrated the world’s first miniaturized fiber-optical sensor system than can be fully embedded in a composite material.

Nautricity’s CoRMat turbine featuring 1-shot-RTM blades of Airborne Composites

This achievement paves the way toward smart composites that enable continued and automatic monitoring of the structural health of the composite material in, for example, tidal blades, wind turbines, airplanes (fuselage, wings, …) or marine structures (masts, antennas, hulls of sail yachts, navy ships, propellers).

The sensor system was assembled by Optocap on an electronic board designed by Xenics. The optical subsystem consists of a silicon photonics integrated circuit developed by imec and photodiodes and read-out ICs provided by Xenics. Fraunhofer IIS was responsible for the wireless interface. It provides power to the embedded system and at the same time reads out the acquired data at high speed.

After connecting the system to an optical fiber sensor chain manufactured by FBGS international, it was casted in an epoxy shape specifically designed by Ghent University to minimize the impact on the composite material. Finally, together with the attached fiber sensor chain it was embedded in the blade of a tidal turbine by Airborne.

Belgian Scientists Make Offshore Renewables Smart with Nanotechnology
Interrogator (diameter 10cm) after embedding in protective epoxy shell with shape optimized for minimal impact on composite structural strength.  Photo: imec (Click to enlarge)

The silicon photonic integrated circuit, featuring an Arrayed Waveguide Grating (AWG) acting as a spectrometer, forms the core of the sensor system and allows interrogating the Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors connected to it with high accuracy. The advantages of these FBG sensors compared to other strain monitoring techniques (e.g. electrical strain gauges) are their compactness, light weight, immunity to electromagnetic interferences (EMI), high resistance to corrosion, high temperature operation, and multiplexing capability.

The FBG sensors, which exhibit a record small diameter and show unprecedented elongation at breakage, were specifically designed to minimally impact the strength of the composite material. Automatic techniques were developed to embed them in the composite. This, together with the use of silicon-based microfabrication processes on a well-established industrial infrastructure, will enable lowering the cost of embedded strain sensors substantially.

Press release, July 10, 2014; Image: Airborne

Share this article

Follow Offshore Wind

Leave a Reply

Events>

<< Oct 2018 >>
MTWTFSS
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 1 2 3 4

ACI’s Operating Specialist Wind Vessels 2018

Already on its 5th edition, ACI’s Operating Specialist Wind Vessels 2018 will bring together senior executives and experts from ship owners

read more >

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2018

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) is Europe’s leading offshore energy event. It is unique in bringing together the oil & gas…

read more >

Offshore Wind Conference 2018

The 9th annual Offshore Wind Conference brings together the entire offshore wind value chain to discuss current…

read more >

Annual Asia Wind Energy Conference

Renewable energy such as wind energy is now increasingly being adopted by emerging economies …

read more >

Jobs>

Senior Operations & Maintenance Engineer

The Senior O&M Engineer (Structural) sits within the Asset Integrity Management Department team of Offshore O&M, reporting to a Lead O&M Engineer...

apply

O&M Lead Contract Manager

Here at Scottish Power Renewables we’re committed to remaining a UK leader in renewable energy. As well as investing in our technologies, we are committed to investing in the future of extraordinary people like you...

apply

Senior Contract Manager

Here at Scottish Power Renewables we’re committed to remaining a UK leader in renewable energy. As well as investing in our technologies, we are committed to investing in the future of extraordinary people like you...

apply

Vessels>