Waltham, MA, United States
Waltham, MA, United States

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Patent
JENTEK Sensors, Inc. | Date: 2015-02-19

The condition of internal or hidden material layers or interfaces is monitored and used for control of a process that changes a condition of a material system. The material system has multiple component materials, such as layers or embedded constituents, or can be represented with multiple layers to model spatial distributions in the material properties. The material condition changes as a result of a process performed on the material, such as by cold working, or from functional operation. Sensors placed proximate to the test material surface or embedded between material layers are used to monitor a material property using magnetic, electric, or thermal interrogation fields. The sensor responses are converted into states of the material condition, such as temperature or residual stress, typically with a precomputed database of sensor responses. The sensor responses can also be used to determine properties of the test material, such as electrical conductivity or magnetic permeability, prior to conversion to the material state. The states are used to support control decisions that control the process or operation causing the material condition to change.


Detection of corrosion and other defects in piping is needed to prevent catastrophic pipeline failure. Sensors, systems and methods are provided to enable detection of such defects. These apparatus and methods are configured to characterize pipe protected by insulation and conductive weather protection. The sensors may utilize inductive and/or solid state sensing element arrays operated in a magnetic field generated in part by a drive winding of the sensor. Multiple excitation frequencies are used to generate the magnetic field and record corresponding sensing element responses. Relatively high excitation frequencies may be used to estimate the properties of the weather protection and sensor lift-off while lower frequencies may be used to detect internal and external pipe damage. Linear arrays may be moved to generate damage images of the pipe providing size and location information for defects. Two dimensional sensor arrays may be used to provide imaging without moving the sensor.


Patent
JENTEK Sensors, Inc. | Date: 2016-05-31

A sensor system has an integrated sensor cartridge, and instrument, and an instrument side connector. The integrated sensor cartridge has a mechanical support, a flexible sensor array, and a rigid connector. The mechanical support is shaped to facilitate sensor measurements on a test object. The rigid connector has a mechanical connection and an electrical connection for simultaneous electrical and mechanical mating of the sensor cartridge to the instrument side connector. The flexible array has a connecting portion, a lead portion, and a sensing portion. The sensing portion is attached to the mechanical support, and the connecting portion interfaces with the rigid connector. The connecting portion may form the electrical connection of the rigid connector or may simply mate internally with the electrical connection. The instrument side connector is connected to the instrument which measures the response of the flexible sensor array. Test objects may include bolt holes, fillets, disk slots, and other types of parts or components.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.75K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:Corrosion of aluminum aircraft structures affects remaining life and safety . When corrosion occurs below the surface of exterior panels, current inspection methods require panels to be removed and replaced. An inspection method is needed that eliminates the necessity of removing exterior aircraft panels. The proposed effort will develop an inspection system capable of rapid, wide-area inspection of aluminum substructures through aluminum or composite exterior panels. It will build on JENTEKs magnetoresistive magnetometer array (MR-MWM-Array) technology and use multiple frequencies to estimate material loss, via JENTEKs HyperLattice multivariate inverse methods. The objective is to detect corrosion loss of 0.02 in. depth by 0.075 in. diameter on the buried, near surface of a 0.25 in. thick aluminum substructure through 0.2 in. thick aluminum or 0.5 in. thick IM7 5240-4 composite skins. This will be demonstrated in Phase I and extended in Phase II to address specific Air Force needs. JENTEKs latest 8200 series instruments provide significant improvements over predecessors, such as lower frequencies; simultaneous operation at multiple frequencies; high data rates; 119 parallel channels; improved signal-to-noise; and ergonomic/software improvements, including reduced size/weight. These technological advances will allow rapid, wide-area scanning for corrosion, cracks, and other flaws. BENEFIT:If the proposed SBIR program is successful the Air Force will have a new capability to perform a rapid, wide-area, corrosion inspection of hidden structures. The capability to account for variability in skin thicknesses and internal structure geometries and provide reliable sizing of corrosion defects is needed for a wide range of military platforms. This program will complement JENTEKs ongoing successes in other markets, such as Oil & Gas for corrosion imaging and together have a broad impact on safety and costs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Transportation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.19K | Year: 2015

This proposed Phase II effort will fabricate and test a working prototype ILI tool, including a pull-test on representative samples with representative defects under representative conditions. The focus is on oil pipelines, as well as gas pipelines. This program will address some pressing, high priority needs such as reliable characterization of longitudinal cracks (including cracks at ERW welds), as well as the characterization of other crack types (transverse and SCC) and corrosion. This is particularly important for small diameter pipelines where existing solutions do not exist. This goal is aligned with a substantial commercial opportunity for the delivery of next generation In-line-Inspection (ILI) products and services that can enable more comprehensive inspection of critical pipeline infrastructure, thereby improving safety without adding costs and operational uncertainty. JENTEK is uniquely positioned to deliver an innovative solution that reformats the cost structure and reliability of ILI tools. This Phase II SBIR encompasses a fundamental shift in ILI technology away from MFL and Ultrasonic solutions that can be costly and require extensive data analysis. The proposed electromagnetic-based approach will provide the needed sensitivity to relevant defect types (such as cracks and corrosion) while providing the advanced analytical tools provide by JENTEK’s Multivariate Inverse Methods.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.98K | Year: 2014

This program addresses the need for non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods for quality assessment and defect evaluation of thermal protection systems (TPS). Novel linear drive eddy current methods are proposed for NDE of carbon-based TPS materials, such as felts, rigid materials, and three dimensional woven fiber composites. Using a combination of physics-based models of layered media, including an eddy current micromechanical model extension for composites, multivariate inverse methods, high resolution imaging, and innovative sensor array constructs, the developed methods will independently measure the material characteristics of interest. In Phase I, the focus was on adapting methods developed for carbon-based composite structures and laminates and demonstrating feasibility of these methods for felts, rigid materials, and three-dimensional woven composites. In Phase II, the focus is on maturing this method, including the instrumentation hardware, models, and sensor designs, to provide scanning assessment and in-situ monitoring capabilities for TPS material condition assessment. JENTEK's MWM-Arrays have a linear drive that permits both scanned type imaging and permanent installation for monitoring of anisotropic properties, temperature, and stresses at multiple depths. The projected depth of the magnetic field into the test material can be adjusted through the sensor dimensions and excitation frequencies; this enables inspection of materials more than 1.0-in. thick and supports measuring far-side surface recession in ablator materials. JENTEK delivered the MWM-Array solution used by NASA KSC on the Space Shuttle Leading Edge to detect damage of the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) thermal protection tiles; thus JENTEK is well-positioned to deliver a practical TPS NDE solution.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.96K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: In this program we will miniaturize the wireless probe technology demonstrated in Phase I into a light-weight, wireless ET inspection system that will substantially mitigate many of the common challenges associated with conventional, wired ET. The wireless instrumentation will support conventional ET probes as well as JENTEK's MWM and MWM-Array eddy current sensors. The system will consist of a wireless ET probe, a mobile device for configuring the probe and reviewing data, and optionally a mini-server for managing and storing data or running more complex data analysis. It will utilize platform-independent software that will enable the Air Force to take advantage of information technology hardware and software as implemented in devices such as smart phones and tablets. The Phase II program will raise the technology readiness level to TRL 6 or above. This Phase II SBIR program will provide a substantial leap in the practical capabilities of Nondestructive Inspections equipment by providing wireless, light weight, and parallel architecture constructs that substantially miniaturize the required instrumentation. In addition to improving system performance by eliminating cabling and associated cable noise, the wireless system will increase the inspector's efficiency and provide easier access for tight quarters and wide area inspections. BENEFIT: Successful completion of this Phase II SBIR will provide the Air Force with a powerful wireless inspection tool that can support a wide range of applications including bolt-hole inspection, landing gear inspection, wide-area composite inspection, special coating characterization, and embedded sensors for fatigue and corrosion monitoring. The new tool is expected to improve performance compared to existing implementations by virtue of eliminating all cabling and associated cable noise and the wireless operation will increase inspector's efficiency, reducing time and cost of each inspection.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 120.73K | Year: 2016

This program addresses the need to monitor surface recession, temperature, and through-thickness properties of thermal protection system (TPS) materials. These TPS materials have unique properties for shedding the heat generated under reentry conditions to protect the integrity of the spacecraft. However, ever-increasing mission demands require improved performance and a better understanding for modern heat shield structures. This can be accomplished with a noninvasive, nondestructive method that uses projected sensing fields through the thickness of the TPS material. Novel eddy current methods are proposed that incorporate innovative sensor array constructs, physics-based models, and multivariate inverse methods to nondestructively assess carbon-based TPS materials such as Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The sensors can be mounted behind the TPS material or embedded within the TPS with sensing magnetic fields that are projected through the material. JENTEK?s physics-based methods for diagnostics of layered media using MWM-Array technologies have been demonstrated as a nondestructive evaluation (NDE) method for flexible and rigid ablative TPS materials for condition, orientation, and thickness assessment. These methods are commonly used for NDE, such as coating characterization, and have been extended to surface mounted sensing applications such as torque, fatigue, and heat treatment condition monitoring. This proposed Phase I will demonstrate the feasibility of these methods in an embedded sensor configuration for representative material layer configurations and a heating transient as well as investigate the adaptations required for full-scale testing and operation. JENTEK delivered the MWM-Array solution used by NASA KSC on the Space Shuttle leading edge to detect damage of the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) thermal protection tiles; thus JENTEK is well-positioned to deliver a novel method for health monitoring of TPS materials.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.12M | Year: 2014

This program will accelerate transitioning of high-throughput versions of JENTEKs MWM Array eddy-current sensors and GridStation impedance instruments to the U.S. Navy. The proposed systems will have between 350 and 600 fully parallel impedance channels. With greater data acquisition speed from each channel and with substantial increase in the number of fully parallel channels, larger surface areas, such as webs, bores and large parts can be inspected far more efficiently and quickly. Furthermore, multiple features, such as all the holes at a given mounting surface on a disk, can be inspected simultaneously. The inspection capability will be enhanced by a data archiving function which records component conditions, historical crack growth rates (determined from MWM-Array mapping and tracking methods), and residual stress relaxation. The overall program focus is on achieving a 20 times increase in the inspection throughput (compared to conventional Eddy Current Testing, ET). This throughput improvement should enable one system to replace three conventional systems for many inspections providing an additional reduction in acquisition and operating costs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.91K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: This proposed SBIR will demonstrate the feasibility of delivering a revolutionary integrated inspection station for engine airfoils that uses the same advanced eddy current technology (called the JENTEK MWM-Array) to provide BOTH reliable crack detection and dimensional analysis for chord width and tip wear. By utilizing the same flexible and easily adaptable sensing technology, a low cost, and reconfigurable inspection station will be demonstrated with extremely rapid inspection capabilities. This solution will enable rapid tool changing with easily interchangeable part holding and integrated scanning kits for each of the 143 part numbers that require inspection. It will also provide dramatically improved inspection speeds compared to conventional eddy current methods, enabling the required inspection of 190,000 parts per year. The Phase I will develop the 3-D dimensioning capability and demonstrate an integrated crack detection and dimensional measurement capability on two blade geometries. Phase I will also demonstrate the feasibility of addressing the large number of Air Force part numbers with an innovative automated inspection station design concept. Furthermore, crack depth measurement capability, already in use by the Navy to qualify blades for repair, will be incorporated to trigger repair actions, and eventually to qualify repairs as well. BENEFIT: It is anticipated that many Air Force and Navy legacy propulsion systems would benefit from the engine airfoil integrated inspection stations to be developed under this proposed program. The technology will be demonstrated to the Air Force, Navy, and DoD suppliers to solicit interest, funding, and system purchases for production, and depot, and field use. Rolls Royce and other engine OEMs, as well as PAS and other blade maintenance and repair providers have expressed strong interest in a rapid inspection system for blades and capability to reliably provide dimensioning, defect detection and sizing and repair qualification capabilities.

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