Nanotechnology-Based Condition Monitoring Sensors for Generation IV Electrical Insulation Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2010

$750K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

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

Research Institution

Georgia Institute of Technology
225 North Ave NW
Atlanta, GA 30332
Institution POC

Abstract

Insulation system degradation resulting in component failure represents a significant contribution to reliability and cost issues facing the nuclear power industry. For example, the Electric Power Research Institute found that 37% of motor failures were due to winding failures, many of which involve failure of the insulation system. Although there are a number of visual, tactile or electrical tests helpful in detecting insulation problems, there is no current in-situ sensor which continuously tracks the environmentally driven degradation of the insulation. A new degradation sensing technology called AgeAlert, developed by Polymer Aging Concepts, Inc. provides the first in-situ sensor for measurement of environmentally induced insulation degradation in real time. This tiny, low cost sensor installed in the windings of a motor or insulation of a cable responds to actual environmental conditions and accurately predicts remaining insulation life. The Phase I project demonstrated feasibility for use of advanced nanotechnology materials as conductive fillers in AgeAlert sensors. This is important because the resulting improvements in both performance and durability of the sensors optimize use in critical applications such as electrical wiring and equipment in nuclear power plants. The proposed research under this STTR Phase II project will demonstrate the improved performance from nanotechnology materials such as carbon nanotubes (CNT) in prototypes made for several wire and cable and motor insulation systems planned for Generation IV nuclear power plants. The tasks of this proposal will increase commercial viability of AgeAlert technology by improving the performance and durability of AgeAlert sensors to meet strict durability test requirements in the nuclear industry. It will open up additional markets for this new class of simple, low-cost condition monitoring sensors for demanding applications such as remote monitoring of off-shore wind turbines and solar applications where electrical components are subjected to extreme environmental conditions. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: Commercialization of AgeAlert technology promotes green technologies by reducing material and energy resources associated with unplanned shutdowns and unnecessary equipment replacement. In the future, AgeAlert sensors can be used to monitor degradation of a wide range of degradable products including tires, aerospace composites, propellants, and even food and pharmaceutical products. Since the sensors are passive and respond to degradation effects without power, they can be incorporated into passive Radio Frequency Identification devices to make