The purpose of this sensor technology is to actively monitor and trend all useful ball and roller ball bearing health data in a gas turbine engine environment. Measuring the key inputs for a high speed, highly loaded bearing operating in a turbine engine environment can be a challenging task. Sensors and any associated routing leads must be small and unobtrusive enough to fit within the space available while not affecting the performance or life of the bearing that is being characterized, or any surrounding structures. The data generated should be sufficient to evaluate all aspects of bearing health in real time and provide early evidence of bearing degradation, allowing catastrophic bearing failures to be avoided.
Current Sensor Needs
Useful data for bearing health evaluation include ball pass (frequency), cage speeds and ratios to shaft speed. Additionally, the temperatures and vibration levels of bearing components can assist in the trending of bearing health. The sensors must be suitable for integration into existing and future rigs and engines, and must be able to withstand the thermal, mechanical, and chemical environment that a gas turbine engine bearing experiences. The sensors must also be designed such that sensor failures will not affect the normal operation of the bearing or degrade bearing life.
Current tools available for bearing monitoring include, but are not limited to: proximity probes, accelerometers, thermocouples, and load measurement devices. These technologies are not always practical for turbine engine testing. Future technologies could address miniaturizing of existing technologies and data transmission and storage techniques required to transmit this data with minimal additional instrumentation routing within the engine. A more ambitious approach would be to build fully instrumented bearings capable of gathering useful data without any additional instrumentation routing or space claim from the existing engine. The ideal solution would be a low cost technology capable of being implemented in production engines and capable of operating safely for at least 40 hours for development, and preferably capable of gathering and transmitting data for 5,000 hours or more for in-service health monitoring.
Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) Members Addressing This Need
Cleveland Electric Laboratories Company, Inc.