Advanced Oil Filter Load Monitoring for Aircraft Engine Bearing Diagnostics

Period of Performance: 05/15/2008 - 02/15/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

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


Early indication of impending main engine bearing failure is critical, especially for single engine fighter aircraft such as the JSF. Bearing degradation leading to failure is characterized by increasing amounts of bearing race and rolling element spalling and wear debris entering the engine lube oil flow. The amount of shed bearing debris indicates remaining useful life. Magnetic chip collectors are widely fielded, but suffer low capture efficiency and lack online measurement capability. Aircraft engine lubrication filters, however, capture virtually all bearing damage particulates. Accurately trending oil filter blockage using differential pressure measurements provides useful indication of bearing damage progression. To address the critical need for improved engine diagnostic capabilities, Luna Innovations will advance the state of the art in filter monitoring for bearing diagnostics by leveraging the technical experience of industry leaders to develop and apply load trending algorithms for filter construction and particulate loading specific to aircraft engine bearing damage. Also in Phase I, Luna will investigate the feasibility of directly sampling fluid parameters to reduce filter loading uncertainty. The diagnostic strategy ultimately resulting from this effort will be especially valuable when fused with orthogonal techniques (e.g., vibration monitoring) to provide a robust bearing health monitoring approach.