• By Authored by Arms et al., and featured in American Helicopter Society: 2006
  • Posted Friday, July 24, 2015 - 15:15

Energy Harvesting Wireless Sensors for Helicopter Damage Tracking
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Wireless sensor networks with integrated energy harvesting capabilities demonstrate autonomous helicopter pitch link monitoring and condition based maintenance for NAVAIR.

Wireless Damage Tracking for Helicopters

The knowledge of operational loads on a helicopter rotating components is important for condition based maintenance (CBM) and health usage monitoring systems (HUMS). In the past, the need to deploy slip rings has limited the monitoring of rotating components. Wireless technology eliminates slip rings, but the problem of battery maintenance remains a major obstacle.

MicroStrain reports on its next generation wireless sensors, which eliminate battery maintenance by using piezoelectric materials to convert strain energy to stored electrical energy.  Stored energy is used to measure, record, and transmit strain and load information. A prototype energy harvesting wireless pitch link sensing system has been developed. Under low usage level helicopter operating conditions, the energy consumed was less than the energy harvested, enabling strain & load sensors to operate perpetually without battery maintenance. Breaking down the barriers to monitoring helicopter rotating components, this technology has the potential to greatly improve future HUMS capabilities.