Sensors play a key role in the technologies we use every day - from car anti-lock braking systems to smart phones, and diagnostic machines to screen for disease. Strathclyde researchers are working with a wide variety of companies and sectors.
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FLITES (Fibre-Laser Imaging of Gas Turbine Exhaust Species) aims to establish a world-leading capability in the measurement and imaging of molecular and particulate species in gas turbine aero-engine exhausts, underpinning a new phase of low-net-carbon development in the aviation industry.
Professor Walter Johnstone and Dr Michael Lengden, from the department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, are working together with academic and commercial partners including the Universities of Manchester and Southampton , Rolls-Royce, Shell, Covesion, Fianium and OptoSci. The four-year study will focus on carbon dioxide emissions and how they can be lowered.
The FLITES team has been awarded £1.8m by EPSRC, with the companies providing more than £500,000 in support.
The researchers aim to produce the first-ever images of the distribution of chemical species in aero-engine exhaust plumes. The FLITES project will bring together expertise of engineers at the University of Strathclyde using new electronic architectures for spectroscopic measurement in collaboration with novel fibre lasers developed at the University of Southampton and tomographic imaging techniques developed at the University of Manchester.
Professor Johnstone explains: "Target gas species absorb laser light at very specific wavelengths (colours) leading to a reduction in the transmission of the beam at these wavelengths. This process can be used to identify target gases and measure their concentrations, pressures and temperatures. Tuneable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS) is one of the most widely used and advantageous methods for making such measurements using this basic absorption phenomenon. Techniques based on TDLS are non-contact, non-invasive and rely only on the interaction of laser light with the gas. Hence, they are ideal for measurements in extremely harsh environments, such as in fuel cells at 900C or in the plumes or even combustion chambers of aero engines at >1200C, where no other direct sensing techniques are possible. In this process we will be applying TDLS to the measurement of the concentrations of target gas species in the exhaust plumes of aero-engines and applying tomography to determine the cross-sectional distribution of concentration. This knowledge can be used to determine and control the health of the engine, its efficiency and its emissions. It can also be used to evaluate the efficiency and emissions of new low carbon fuels and in engine development studies. The project will take the technology from the fundamental investigations in the laboratory all the way to demonstrations on operational aero-engines".
It is expected that the research project will enhance turbine-related research and development capacity in both academia and industry by opening up access to exhaust plume chemistry.
It will underpin a new phase of low-net-carbon development that is underway in aviation, based on bio-derived fuels, and which entails extensive research in turbine engineering, turbine combustion, and fuel product formulation.
Professor Walter Johnstone added: “the advanced sensor systems being developed will lead to better understanding of the complex phenomena that dictate the performance and limitations of advanced aero engines, and will help to really pin down the performance benefits of novel biofuels. This will lead to fundamental changes in engine design and fuel composition that will revolutionise the performance of gas turbine engines”
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