Extreme Environment Control Sensors

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

Generation-IV reactor plants have the potential to drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to reduce emission of greenhouse gasses. These plants will require reliable, high-temperature physical sensors that can operate at temperatures of 800°C to 1000°C and pressures up to 1000psi, while undergoing heavy irradiation. Conventional temperature and pressure sensors in nuclear and non-nuclear power plants rely on semi-conductor technology that will not withstand the high temperatures and neutron flux levels ¿ the highest-temperature pressure sensors, commercially available, fail below 500°C without liquid or other cooling. This project will develop a fiber optic, hybrid pressure-temperature sensor system that is capable of reliable operation in a high-temperature (to 1400°C) and high-radiation environment (>1x1019 n/cm2). During Phase I, a new sensor design, which eliminated those materials that limited the maximum operational temperature of previous designs to about 900°C, was developed. The new design was prototyped, and several component construction procedures were optimized. A pressure sensor prototype measured pressure at temperatures up to 800°C. In Phase II, the sensor and packaging design will be optimized for inclusion in DOE Gen-IV development experiments. Prototype sensors will be characterized in a laboratory environment at temperatures up to 1400°C. A new, lower-cost demodulation system will be developed and prototyped to complete the sensor system. Finally, automatic health monitoring algorithms will be developed for the demodulation system. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The improved fiber optic sensor should increase the safety and security of Gen-IV reactors, providing plant staff the capability to contain minor incidents before they develop into more serious accidents. In addition, the sensor system should have applicability to: (1) instrumentation for existing power generation reactors and power generation gas turbines, improving power generation efficiency and life extension; (2) instrumentation and control of space-based nuclear power reactors; (3) DOD applications for military nuclear power systems; and (4) DOD gas turbines engines to improve performance.