Development of AgeAlert: A Predictive Maintenance Sensor for Electrical Insulation Systems in Nuclear Power Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Polymer Aging Concepts Inc.
372 River Drive
Dahlonega, GA 30533
Principal Investigator


The reliability and economic viability of Generation IV nuclear power plants would be significantly enhanced by a simple, low-cost maintenance technology that can predict the degradation of insulation in electrical-power-system components, such as motors, generators and transformers. Current methods require significant operator training for interpretation, and have limited capabilities of predicting remaining life. Other modeling approaches, such as time-temperature integration, require a large number of environmental sensors for sensing each environmental stressor, and do not reduce complexity and wiring as required of next-generation nuclear power plants. This project will demonstrate the feasibility of a new conductive composite degradation sensor, called AgeAlert, to continuously monitor the condition of the insulation systems of electrical components. Because this tiny in situ sensor will be made of the same polymeric components as the insulation itself, it will respond in exactly the same way as the component insulation system, improving monitoring accuracy and allowing repair or replacement of the component before failure. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: AgeAlert sensors could be used to monitor the degradation of virtually any polymeric material, including wire and cable systems; seals and gaskets; hybrid automobile motor/generators, tires, and belts; and aerospace composite structures. Since the sensors are passive and respond to degradation effects without power, they can be incorporated into passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices to make smart labels ¿ not only would such labels identity an item, they also would automatically adjust the shelf-life.