Wireless Sensors for Coal-based Power Plants

From UMaine Today – Fall/Winter 2018

Advanced combustion

StacksImproving wireless sensor technologies in coal-based power plants is the focus of a $2.5 million grant from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) through the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy to the University of Maine.

The UMaine project, led by Mauricio Pereira da Cunha, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Robert Lad, professor of physics, is one of nine projects funded by NETL as part of the Advanced Combustion Systems Program.

The goal of the program is to develop new advanced sensor instrumentation that can provide improved condition-based maintenance in existing coal power plants, reliably decreasing costs of operation and maintenance, increasing efficiency and safety, and significantly reducing pollutant emissions, according to DOE.

UMaine’s research, led by faculty, staff and students in the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST), is based on wireless, battery-free surface acoustic wave sensor devices that allow measurements of temperature, as well as stress and strain, on equipment operating under harsh environments, including very high temperatures.

The technology aims to monitor temperature and equipment degradation at both the fire and steam sides of boilers and other critical components. The DOE project will focus on technology transfer and development of new materials, and packaging for wireless harsh-environment sensors applications in coal-fired power plants.