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Wireless sensing technologies to boost the oil and gas pipeline monitoring sector

By Editor's Choice, Engineering and construction, laser distance sensor, Oil and gas production, Sensors

The need to manage the serviceability and stability of an ageing pipeline infrastructure is driving the adoption of smart sensors in the oil and gas pipeline monitoring market. Advanced sensing systems that leverage new technologies, such as wireless sensing, energy harvesting, smart materials, embedded electronic computing, miniaturisation, robotic systems, and Big Data analytics intelligence, can increase return on investment, reduce down time, and improve public safety.

Sensors for Oil and Gas Pipeline Monitoring is part of Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision (Sensors & Control) Growth Partnership Subscription. The study evaluates advances in sensing technologies and their impact on the oil and gas pipeline industry in the near, medium and long-terms. It captures sensor innovations from different dimensions, such as upstream, downstream and midstream. The insights will enable players to align themselves with the market trends and be early adopters of novel technologies.

“Wireless sensors are emerging as one of the strongest options for pipeline monitoring applications. With the adoption of wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, onboard computational sensing and wireless communication capabilities, the quality of monitoring will significantly improve. The WSN sensor nodes and algorithms can provide rich information for detection, location and assessment of structural damage caused by severe loading events and progressive environmental deterioration,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst, Varun Babu. “WSNs can also monitor more data points and be reconfigured more easily than wired sensors.”

Cost is a key issue that hampers the adoption of any new technology. However, funding support by government agencies and venture capitalists is expected to accelerate the commercialisation of prototypes.

“Innovators and start-ups should partner with device manufacturers to develop specific solutions,” observed Frost & Sullivan TechVision Senior Research Analyst, Jabez Mendelson. “With the lack of an established technology ecosystem, there is a need for close co-operation between device developers, material suppliers, equipment vendors and foundries to develop common standards to facilitate reliable production processes.”

PolyU Develops Sprayable Sensing for Real-time Structural Monitoring | Laser-View

By Construction and Engineering, Editor's Choice

PolyU Develops Sprayable Sensing for Real-time Structural MonitoringPosted by admin on July 05, 2017The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) research team developed a novel breed of nanocomposites-inspired sensors which can be sprayed directly on flat or curved engineering structural surfaces, such as train tracks and aeroplane structures. The sprayed sensors can be networked, to render rich real-time information on the health status of the structure under monitoring. Due to its light weight and low fabrication cost, large quantities of sensors can be deployed in a sensor network for detecting hidden flaws of structures, paving the way for a new era of ultrasonics-based structural health monitoring.

Source: PolyU Develops Sprayable Sensing for Real-time Structural Monitoring | Laser-View

PolyU Develops Sprayable Sensing for Real-time Structural Monitoring

By Editor's Choice, Engineering and construction, Sensors, Structural monitoring

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) research team developed a novel breed of nanocomposites-inspired sensors which can be sprayed directly on flat or curved engineering structural surfaces, such as train tracks and aeroplane structures. The sprayed sensors can be networked, to render rich real-time information on the health status of the structure under monitoring. Due to its light weight and low fabrication cost, large quantities of sensors can be deployed in a sensor network for detecting hidden flaws of structures, paving the way for a new era of ultrasonics-based structural health monitoring.

The nanocomposite sensors developed by the research team from PolyU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, led by Professor Su Zhongqing and Professor Zhou Limin, adopt an innovative technique of fabrication through spraying which makes installation process for sensors much faster and more efficient compared to conventional means. It also enhances the flexibility of the product to adapt to various types of surface.

Currently, the number of conventional ultrasound sensors, such as those made of lead zirconate titanate (PZT), used for in-situ monitoring is usually limited by the factors related to the sensor’s cost and weight. These sensors are usually stiff (unwieldy to adapting to curved structural surfaces), introducing remarkable weight and volume penalty to a host structure to which the sensor is to be mounted. The nanocomposite sensors developed by the team, however, can be fabricated in large quantities to form a dense sensor network for structural health monitoring at a much lower fabrication cost and weight than using conventional sensors.

“This nanocomposite sensor has blazed a trail for implementing in-situ sensing for vibration, or ultrasonic wave-based structural health monitoring, by striking a balance between ‘sensing cost’, i.e. the cost of sensors, and ‘sensing effectiveness’, the quantity of data acquired by the sensors,” said Professor Su.

Low cost, light weight

PolyU’s innovative sensing technology encompasses a sensor network with a number of the sprayed nanocomposite sensors and an ultrasound actuator, to actively detect the health condition of the structure to which they are fixed, quickly and accurately showing if there is any damage in the structure. When the ultrasound actuator emits guided ultrasonic waves (GUWs), the sensors will receive and measure the waves. If damage, such as a crack is present in the structure, propagation of GUWs will be interfered by the damage, leading to unique wave scattering phenomena, to be captured by the sensor network. Based on wave scattering, the damage can be characterized quantitatively and accurately via an all-in-one system that was developed by the team.

Compared to the conventional ultrasound sensors which costs over US$10 each and weighs few grams, this new breed of nanocomposite sensor costs only US$0.5 and 0.04g for each. As such more sensors can be adopted in one structure, generating more information for analysis, with less weight added to the structure. In addition, Professor Su’s sensor has excellent flexibility and can adapt to curved structure surfaces. That allows a wide range of practical engineering applications. It is also sprayable on the surface of a moving structure to transmit the structural health information in a real-time manner.

Wider frequency range of response

The sensor developed by the team can measure an ultrasound signal from static to up to 900 kHz yet with ultralow magnitude. The acquisition of wave scattering in an ultrasonic regime allows detection of cracks as small as 1 to 2 mm in most engineering materials. That response frequency is over 400 times more than the highest frequency than nanocomposite sensors that are reportedly available (as reported in international journals).

While conventional ultrasound sensor can measure a wider range of ultrasound waves when compared to those developed by the team, the high cost and weight of the conventional sensors make a large quantity application infeasible, limiting the quantity of data acquired. There are lots of limitations in applying the conventional ultrasound sensors to practical applications, especially in aerospace structures.

New technology to cut cost and enhance sensitivity

Made of a hybrid of carbon black (CB), 2D graphene, conductive nano-scale particles, and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), the nanocomposite sensor can be easily and flexibly tailored to different sizes towards various engineering applications.

The secret of its high sensitivity to structural change lies in the optimized nanostructure of the hybrid, which endows the sensor to possess an ability to identify the dramatic changes in piezoresistivity of the nanocomposite. To measure and analyze the dramatic change of piezoresistivity, Professor Su and his team tested numerously on the weight ratio of nanofillers in order to optimize the conductivity of the nanocomposite.

Each sensor is connected to a network via a wire printed on the structure. By analyzing and comparing the electrical signals converted from the electric resistivity, the network can spot the defect in a structure, as well as translate the signals into 3D images.

This new research has recently been published in top-tier journals in this field, including Ultrasonics, Carbon, and Smart Materials and Structures. “Due to its light weight, the novel nanocomposite sensors can be applied to moving structures like trains and aeroplanes. That will help to pave the way for real-time monitoring of these structures in future, enhancing safety of the engineering assets and retrofit the traditional system maintenance philosophy,” said Professor Su.

Press Contact
Professor Su Zhongqing, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Telephone: (852)-2766-7818
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Innovative bracing for durable structures during a natural disaster

By Editor's Choice, Engineering and construction, Remote monitoring, Structural monitoring

Across the world, severe earthquakes regularly shake entire regions. More than two billion people live in danger zones – many of them in structures not built to withstand an earthquake. Together with partners from industry, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI are developing building materials designed to prevent buildings from collapsing in a natural disaster.

Earthquakes repeatedly claim too many lives, a fact that experts trace back to a lack of preventative measures – particularly when it comes to construction and the failure to comply with standards. All too often, structures in danger areas are not built to withstand an – a state of affairs that the Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, is now urgently seeking to address. Working together with the Technical University of Braunschweig’s Organic Building Materials and Wood Materials division from the Institute for Building Materials, Concrete Construction and Fire Protection, as well as industry partners such as the company Pitzl Metallbau from Altheim, the researchers are developing solutions for the construction industry that could save thousands of lives. Currently, the engineers at Fraunhofer WKI are working on ultra-durable bracing that will protect even high-rise buildings during an earthquake. The bracing consists of sensor-controlled steel connectors that provide a high level of rigidity while remaining elastic enough to maintain structural integrity in the face of severe shaking. Numerous tests have demonstrated that the connectors work exactly as intended. In one test, the researchers investigated the nature of the stress being placed on structures by applying static, cyclical and dynamic forces; in another, the structure’s service life was tested using environmental simulation. The approach is based on the successful EU SERIES project, which examined earthquake-resistant structures under dynamic loads.

Structures that sway but do not fall

The earthquake-resistant bracing has been designed for buildings with a mullion-and-transom design, and connects the horizontal beams with the vertical post. When exposed to wind or tremors, the connectors must be rigid enough to keep deformation to a minimum – but also elastic enough to withstand strong earthquakes. If deformation does occur, it does not lead to critical stress – in other words, the sways, but does not collapse.

In an earthquake, the connectors slide over each other, converting kinetic energy into frictional energy – and preventing the building from collapsing. Norbert Rüther, project manager at Fraunhofer WKI, explains: “The trick is using friction to dissipate the force. The individual parts of the connector are pressed against one another applying a significant, pre-defined force. When the specified stress limit is exceeded, they begin to slide over each other.” As a result, it is possible to accommodate structural deformation without compromising structural integrity. Even after a strong earthquake, such a structure maintains the same capacity as before, and is still able to cope with the stress placed on a multistory building. This means that buildings can withstand several quakes without suffering significant damage. In a sense, they surf the earthquake wave. “All the weight-bearing, safety-critical are just the same after the earthquake as they were before it,” says Rüther.

Installing the bracing within a building is a simple task, and it does not require any maintenance. On top of this, the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST has developed pressure and temperature sensors integrated into the connector, which means it is possible to measure the forces and stress associated with an earthquake.

A case for the use of wood in high-rise buildings

Fraunhofer WKI has developed its bracing connectors so that they can be set to accommodate the requirements of the individual application – the way in which bolts are attached and tightened, for instance. It is also possible to adjust the connector geometry to suit the size of the structure and the materials used. Rüther: “Our high-performance connectors are compatible with any material and support structure – including concrete, steel, brick and wood.” He makes a case for using wood in multistory buildings. “Wood is extremely durable, light but still stable, and perfect for earthquakes. In its mechanical properties, it compares very well with highly durable composites – though at a significantly lower material cost.” Most countries are skeptical of using wood in such cases, citing the danger of fire. However, there are already good solutions that counter this threat. Solid elements with large profiles, for instance, are highly resistant to fire and can preserve their load-bearing integrity even after hours of exposure to fire.

The connectors are currently in the prototype stage, and are expected to be ready for full-scale production in one to two years. Currently, the experts are exploring the connectors’ economic viability with a view to testing in real buildings. Since all the other components are exposed to linear-elastic stress, there is no need for any further safety contingency – in turn boosting the overall cost-effectiveness of the .

Explore further: Building taller, sturdier wood buildings

Seeing the forest through the trees with a new LiDAR system | Laser-View

By News, Sensors

Shortly after lasers were first developed in the 1960s, LiDAR—whose name originated as a combination of “light” and “radar”—capitalized on the newly unique precision they offered for measuring both time and distance. LiDAR quickly became the standard method for (3-D) land surveys and is now used in a multitude of sensing applications, such as self-driving cars. By scanning areas of land with lasers, often from airplanes, LiDAR’s travel-time measurements for light reflected back from the scanned area provide the distances that make up a resulting high-resolution topography.

Source: Seeing the forest through the trees with a new LiDAR system | Laser-View

Wireless laser tracker uses controller-free technology – Canadian Metalworking

By Automation, laser distance sensor, Sensors

Automated Precision Inc. has introduced the OT2 Core portable wireless laser tracker that utilizes wireless and controller-free technology. Based on the company’s Omnitrac 2 laser tracker unit, the new tracker offers many of the same features, including an Autolock sensor that can recapture a lost beam and absolute distance measurement technology.The tracker features no external controller, so no cable is needed to connect the tracker to its operation system. The entire system is integrated. All the data can be transferred via Wi-Fi. The controller can operate up to six hours on a rechargeable battery with an optional AC/DC direct power adapter.Automated Precision Inc. * 240-268-0400 * www.apisensor.com

 

Seeing the forest through the trees with a new LiDAR system – Phys.Org

By Editor's Choice, laser distance sensor, Sensors

Shortly after lasers were first developed in the 1960s, LiDAR—whose name originated as a combination of “light” and “radar”—capitalized on the newly unique precision they offered for measuring both time and distance. LiDAR quickly became the standard method for (3-D) land surveys and is now used in a multitude of sensing applications, such as self-driving cars.

By scanning areas of land with lasers, often from airplanes, LiDAR’s travel-time measurements for reflected back from the scanned area provide the distances that make up a resulting high-resolution topography.

As and electronic technology evolved, LiDAR’s abilities adapted to overcome several limitations and obscuring effects unavoidably produced by real environments, like dynamic weather patterns. With a specially designed laser system and a new methodology based on gated digital holography, research from the Naval Research Laboratory, in Washington, D.C., now provides a method to give LiDAR an enhanced ability to see through otherwise obscuring elements of terrain like foliage or netting. Paul Lebow, from the Naval Research Laboratory, will present this work at The Optical Society’s Imaging and Applied Optics Congress, held 26 -29 June, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

“This was an attempt to address one of the problems with something called foliage-penetrating LiDAR,” Lebow said. “You can actually use it to detect three-dimensional images behind an obscuration such as a tree canopy, for instance, in a disaster relief situation where you wanted to find people in trouble. You can illuminate using LiDAR through the leaves and get enough light coming back through to be able to recreate a three-dimensional, topographic view of what’s going on beneath.”

Until now, LiDAR measurements of surfaces hidden behind foliage have been difficult to acquire. A majority of the original light in these cases gets thrown away, as far as the camera detecting light from the ground is concerned, since the light hitting the leaves never reaches the ground in the first place. Moreover, the light blocked, and therefore reflected, before getting to the ground often overpowers the signal hitting the camera and hides the fainter signal that does make it to the ground and back.

“We have been working with a process called optical phase conjugation for quite some time and it dawned on us that we might be able to use that process to essentially project a laser beam through the openings of the leaves and be able to see through a partial obscuration,” Lebow said. “It was something that until maybe the last five years was not viable just because the technology wasn’t really there. The stuff we had done about 20 years ago involved using a nonlinear optical material and was a difficult process. Now everything can be done using and computer generated holograms, which is what we do.”

This new system uses a specially designed laser that alone took a year and a half to develop, but was a necessary component according to Lebow and his colleague, Abbie Watnik, who is also at the Naval Research Laboratory and another of the work’s authors.

“The real key to making our system work is the interference between two laser beams on the sensor. We send one laser beam out to the target and then it returns, and at the exact same time that return [beam] hits the detector, we interfere it locally with another ,” Watnik said. “We need complete coherence between those beams such that they interfere with one another, so we had to have a specially designed laser system to ensure that we would get that coherence when they interfere on the camera.”

Using a pulsed laser with pulse widths of several nanoseconds, and gated measurements with similar time resolution, the holographic system selectively blocks the earliest-to-arrive light reflecting off obscurations. The camera then only measures light coming back from the partially hidden surface below.

“We’ve done this earlier using a CW (continuous-wave) laser as a demo, but now we’re using a pulsed laser and a very fast gated sensor that can turn on at the appropriate time to basically only let us respond to the light coming from where we want it to come from, from the target,” Lebow said. “The laser is designed so that the time difference between the local reference pulse and the signal pulse that comes back from the target is completely adjustable to accommodate distances from a few feet to several kilometers.”

“Which means,” Watnik said, “we can use this laser system both in our lab on our tabletop setup, as well as outside in the field, using the same laser operating in that range.”

This preliminary, laboratory-based system has provided substantial evidence of its power and potential real-world value. Using a perforated index card to pose as (lab-safe) foliage, not only was the group able to image what the holed index card would have otherwise hidden, but their modeling was also able to recreate the topology of the would-be “foliage.”

“We were able to verify what our computer model says using our real data – matching it to what we actually see using the , so I think that was an interesting verification of our results,” Watnik said.

Watnik and Lebow, along with their research team, hope to continue with the project and make the adaptations to their prototype necessary to making the foliage-penetrating LiDAR system field-ready.

“That would be our next plan, if we got funding for it,” Lebow said. “There have been several other follow-on projects, not specifically for LiDAR, such as beam steering and other digital holographic work that we’re doing for imaging through fog and turbid water based on very similar properties and principles.”

Explore further: Camera captures microscopic holograms at femtosecond speeds

Team 91C Cyclops earn VEX Excellence Award

By Editor's Choice, Robotics

On June 21 – 25, 2017, the Brandywine Valley Robotics VEXMEN 91C Cyclops Team received the Excellence Award for their achievements in the 2017 National Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference.

Over 40 teams descended on the TSA National Conference in Orlando, Florida to battle for the national title. Participants squared off in the “Starstruck” competition developed by VEX Robotics Inc. and TSA.

At the end of the competition VEXMEN Team 91C Cyclops were named National Champions in dramatic come-from-behind fashion by winning the Excellence Award, the highest award presented in the VEX Robotics Competition.

Visit the full article here: https://laser-view.com/team-91c-cyclops-earn-vex-excellence-award/

Brandywine Robotics VEXMEN Team 91C Cyclops Earns VEX Excellence Award

By Automation, Editor's Choice, Engineering and construction, technology

On June 25, 2017, the Brandywine Robotics VEXMEN 91C Cyclops Team received the Excellence Award for their achievements in the 2017 National Technology Student Association (TSA) Conference.

VEXMEN Team 91C Cyclops Named National Champions at TSA National Conference

VEXMEN Team 91C Cyclops Named National Champions at TSA National Conference

Over 40 teams descended on the TSA National Conference in Orlando, Florida on June 21 – 25, to battle for the national title. Participants squared off in the “Starstruck” competition developed by VEX Robotics Inc. and TSA. At the end of the competition VEXMEN Team 91C Cyclops were named National Champions in dramatic come-from-behind fashion by winning the Excellence Award, the highest award presented in the VEX Robotics Competition.

The Excellence Award is awarded based on three evaluation components: Driver Skills, Programming Skills, and engineering design process. The recipient of this award is the team that exemplifies overall excellence in building a well-rounded VEX robotics program. This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work and teamwork. As a strong contender in numerous award categories, this team is recognized for building a quality robot and a “team” committed to quality in everything that they do.

The TSA National Conference concludes the 2016-2017 season. Team 91C will now concentrate on planning for the 2017-2018 VEX Robotics season.

About Team 91C Cyclops Team

Team 91C Consists of Nick Lubeck, Alexandra Lehman, and Logan Schoffstall, who have been competing together for as many as 7 years. During their time together they have competed in multiple national and international competitions and have won awards at every level.

About Brandywine Robotics (VEXMEN)

Brandywine Robotics is the charitable non-profit organization that supports VEXMEN.  VEXMEN includes 100 High School and Middle School teams, comprised of approximately 100 students and mentors. Brandywine Robotics also supports FLL (First Lego League) teams that compete regionally and nationally.  The organization consists of students mainly from the Downingtown Area School District, which participates in Project Lead the Way, the leading provider of STEM programs in the United States.

About The Technololgy Student Association (TSA)

The TSA, formerly AIASA, is the oldest student organization dedicated exclusively to students enrolled in technology education classes grades K-12. It has a rich history that spans nearly four decades.  The TSA is a national, non-profit organization of middle and high school students who are engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since TSA was chartered in 1978, almost 4,000,000 student members have participated through challenging competitions, leadership opportunities, and community service.

About Laser-View Technologies

The Laser-View family of companies, including DIMETIX USA and DIS Sensors USA, proudly sponsors the VEXMEN 91C Cyclops team with the goal of promoting continued awareness and interest in the Downingtown, PA, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program and the importance of educating future engineers.

This iOS 11 AR measuring app will make you go “Whaaat?!” – Phone Arena

By Editor's Choice, Sensors, technology

With iOS 11 developer Beta 2 underway, coders around the globe are ever so excited to get down to building software that utilizes an array of new features that were announced at the WWDC 2017. Developer account holders have had only about three weeks to come up with iOS 11 apps, since the first beta launched, but we already have some exciting stuff in the AR category that really get us excited about ARKit’s potential.

Two recent posts on Twitter show videos of a measuring app that is bound to make you go “Whaaat?!”. At least we did. What really wows you are the smoothness and dynamics of the superimposition of elements, as well as the fact that no external hardware is involved in the whole ordeal.

One of the videos shows how you can use your smartphone’s camera to measure length by dropping pins on a surface and getting an astonishingly accurate measurement of the length between them, displayed as a floating 3D hologram. It’s kind of insane, if you think about it. The AR app also has no problem with shifting angles or distance to the objects you are measuring, and apparently adjusts itself to the right proportions of what the camera sees.

The second video is even cooler than the first and shows how you can set a starting point for measurement, and then just drag your phone along the surface you want to measure. The app generates a hologram of a measuring tape on your screen that starts running in a vector line along the surface, looking ridiculously real and accurate in its count of length.

As Apple “changed the phone forever”, one would question whether such AR-enabled apps might initiate a whole new era of changing things forever, starting with simple objects, such as measuring tape.

Google’s Tango project, which is basically an AR platform that uses specific hardware gadgets to provide detailed AR-based feedback on your mobile device, also holds massive potential in the field. Tango obtains real-life measurements of your environment and lets you play around with virtual objects in your cam’s visual field, as if they were really there. However, the software is still somewhat glitchy and crashy, and lacks a sufficiently large enough pool of integrated apps.

In this regard, what we have seen in the iOS corner so far, and the lack of requirement for additional hardware, make us ponder on whether Apple’s ARKit won’t be the next big thing for the company’s customers. Even though we are still a few months away from iOS 11’s release, its Beta-developed features are already giving us too much to think and talk about.

via TheVerge