Integration of Sensors Through Additive Manufacturing Leading to Increased Efficiencies of Gas Turbines for Power Generation and Propulsion
High-efficiency gas turbines operate well above component melting temperatures. They require elaborate component geometric features and complex cooling strategies to operate durably in environments with high mechanical stress. Using additive manufacturing to develop and produce components can potentially revolutionize designs to attain as yet unreached efficiencies and accelerate the deployment timeline. In addition, the use of additive manufacturing facilitates innovative direct sensor integration at locations that were previously inaccessible. These sensors will enable real-time measurements of local temperature, heat flux, and strain for in-operation parts, but a coordinated process development is required to directly integrate sensors into additively manufactured hot section components. Ultimately, integrated sensors offer the opportunity for a paradigm shift from interval-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Pennsylvania State University is developing a novel manufacturing process that prints integrated sensors into complex systems such as gas turbine hot section parts for real time monitoring. Incorporating these durable, integrated sensors into the geometry would provide critical knowledge of key operating conditions such as temperature of key components and their thermal heat fluxes. These sensors enable the unique possibility to gain direct knowledge of critical parameters currently inferred with only varying degrees of success. This innovation—developed in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology, CVD MesoScribe Technologies Corporation, Siemens, and United Technologies Corporation—will enable condition-based maintenance and find use in myriad applications, from energy production to aircraft propulsion.
With real-time sensing data from additively manufactured components, turbine manufacturers will realize:
Reduced component failures and asset downtime
Higher efficiencies, resulting in reduced carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
A 30-50% acceleration in the development of high efficiency gas turbine components due to a reduction in the time needed for component risk assessment under actual operating conditions