Research & Initiatives
Our research group's vision is to advance the science and engineering of novel sensing, monitoring and decision-making techniques for operational damage identification and prognosis of dynamic structures to increase their reliability and efficiency while improving their noise and vibration behavior. This vision is motivated by the criticality of ensuring a safe, reliable and sustainable mechanical infrastructure that modern societies heavily depend on. The research our group has been conducting at UMass Lowell has the potential to solve these challenging problems through reduction in system downtime and frequency of unscheduled maintenance, thereby increasing the system and infrastructure reliability and sustainability while reducing operating costs. Our research areas are graphically summarized below.
SPOTLIGHT ON RECENT RESEARCH
Acoustic Monitoring of Wind Turbine Blade
Our research group has been developing and testing the feasibility of a novel acoustic sensing based wind turbine blade structural health monitoring system that can be installed on both new and existing wind turbines (retrofit). There is no other technology that can monitor turbine blades in their operation in the current technology market. Current utility blade testing, in-situ health monitoring and damage detection is a bottleneck to the certification and advancement of new blade designs and materials as well as reliable operation of wind turbines. The proposed new technology is expected to address the need for a robust, reliable and low cost blade condition monitoring and operational damage detection system. Because of continually varying operating conditions, all blades will experience leading and trailing edge splits, cracks, or holes that are currently not detectable except by visual inspection or post blade failure. The proposed innovative system will address this need and utilizes low-cost, low-maintenance microphones for passive monitoring of natural flow-induced noise (due to wind) that couples with the structural damage, and acoustic sources to excite the blade’s cavity structure from within for active monitoring. The blade damage will manifest itself in changes to the acoustic cavity frequency response functions and to the blade acoustic transmission loss (sound level drop across the composite structure). This technology depends on a fundamentally simple but effective idea, utilizes low cost wireless sensors with easy maintenance features (equipment placed close to the root sections of the blades etc.).