NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 A2.10-9334
PROPOSAL TITLE: Optical Method for Real-Time Turbine Blade Tip Clearance Measurement

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco Street, Suite E-11
Santa Fe, NM 87505 - 3993
(505) 984-1322

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Andrei B. Vakhtin
1570 Pacheco Street, Suite E-11
Santa Fe, NM 87505 - 3993
(505) 984-1322

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Monitoring and controlling blade tip clearance of high pressure turbines are important for maintaining the integrity of the engine during its operating points and life cycle. Operating the engine with minimum tip clearance provides several benefits, such as increased turbine efficiency, reduced emissions, and extended service life. Southwest Sciences proposes an innovative technology based on optical Fourier domain reflectometry for near real-time tip-clearance measurement with an accuracy of 10 micrometers or better. A simple and robust optical sensor will withstand temperatures of up to 2000 F; therefore, the method can be applied for tip-clearance measurements in turbine hot sections. The system will allow controlling multiple sensors acquiring data from different locations in the turbine with a single main unit. The Phase I effort will provide experimental evidence of the feasibility of this approach and outline the design of the Phase II prototype instrument.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed turbine blade tip clearance sensor meets the needs of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program in the areas of experimental capabilities for a broad range of air vehicles covering subsonic through supersonic flight regime. In particular, this sensor specifically addresses the need for a turbine tip clearance system for applications to rotary-wing aircraft engines. The sensor system developed under this research program will provide a new tool for engine manufacturers to study and optimize blade tip clearance with high accuracy without the need for repetitive and cumbersome calibration procedures. Moreover, engine health monitoring and control systems will benefit from this sensor system for real-time implementation of active tip clearance control mechanisms in gas turbine engines. The envisioned compact, low weight, low-cost, high-temperature capable, self-calibrating sensor heads can be easily integrated into engine casings at several physical locations with minimal or no disturbance to the engine internal flow paths; thus, a flight-version of this sensor system is certainly within reach as well.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
For optical turbine tip clearance monitoring, customers include Air Force, Navy, Army, and also aircraft manufacturers, jet engine manufacturers, and military groups that inspect and maintain the aircraft engines. The new optical monitoring technology will also be useful for maintenance of commercial aircraft engines and industrial turbines.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Aircraft Engines

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50