Significant research is ongoing on several fronts in smart sensor technologies for optimizing the performance of power generating assets. The initiatives include:
1. Real-time models with advanced computational algorithms, embedded intelligence at sensor and component level for reducing operating costs, improving efficiencies, and lowering emissions.
2. Optical sapphire sensors for monitoring operation and performance of critical components in harsh environments, for improving accuracy of measurements in combustion monitoring, and lowering operating costs.
3. Wireless technologies using (a) microwave acoustic sensors for real-time monitoring of equipment in high temperature/pressure environments (b) integrated gas/temperature acoustic sensors for combustion monitoring in diverse harsh environment locations to improve combustion efficiency, reduce emissions, and lower maintenance costs (c) sensors for sensing temperature, strain and soot accumulation inside coal-fired boilers for detailed condition monitoring, better understanding of combustion and heat exchange processes, improved designs, more efficient operation.
4. Distributed optical fiber sensing system for real-time monitoring and optimization of high temperature profiles for improving efficiency and lowering emissions.
5. Smart parts with embedded sensors for in situ monitoring of multiple parameters in existing and new facilities.
6. Optimizing advanced 3D manufacturing processes for embedded sensors in components for harsh environments to reduce costs and improve efficiency of power generation facilities with carbon capture capabilities.
7. New energy-harvesting materials for powering wireless sensors in harsh environments, improving reliability of wireless sensors in demanding environments, and in-situ monitoring and performance of devices and systems.
8. Real-time, accurate and reliable monitoring of temperature at distributed locations of sensors in harsh environments for improving operations and reducing operating costs.
9. Algorithms and methodologies for designing control systems utilizing distributed intelligence for optimal control of power generation facilities.
10. Gas sensors for monitoring high temperatures in harsh environments for lowering operating costs and better control of operations.
11. Optimizing placement of smart sensors in networks for cognitive behavior and self-learning.
This paper provides an overview of the initiatives in smart sensor technologies and their applications in optimizing the performance of power generating facilities.