WIDAGATE: Wireless Data Acquisition in Gas Turbine Engine Testing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde


This collaborative R&D project aims to develop capability required for deploying large-scale wireless sensor networks for data gathering during gas turbine engine testing. Currently, engine testing, requiring measurements of thousands of spatio-temporal parameter values, uses wired sensors connected via a cabling harness to remote condition-monitoring units. Such data acquisition requires many kilometers of wiring, involves long and expensive setup and instrumentation times and hinders efficient time-to-market. We aim to mitigate the challenges of deploying wireless sensors for data gathering in the harsh, dynamic and inaccessible environment of gas turbines involving high-speed rotations, rapid airflows, high temperatures and large amplitude vibrations.
Description Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) represent a useful new technology for industrial data acquisition. However, the harsh environment of the gas turbine engine provides a number of challenges to deployment of wireless sensors. A physical layer channel model has been derived using a data-base derived from measurements made across the surface of a particular gas turbine engine. Scaling laws have been identified to allow the resulting models to be extrapolated to engines of other sizes. The model includes interference categories derived from aerospace standards in addition to propagation characteristics. The physical layer model lies at the heart of a WSN software simulator that has been developed to de-risk the selection/development/deployment of WSN technologies for wireless data acquisition in gas turbine engine testing. Based on the validated, realistic physical layer model, the simulator platform allows different communications protocols to be investigated and compared prior to commitment to hardware prototyping.
Exploitation Route The simulator is available to Rolls-Royce for use in the assessment of WSN technologies for gas turbine engine testing.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Description To the investigator's knowledge WSNs have yet to be deployed in gas turbine jet engines. The industrial company leading the WIDAGATE project has, however, deployed a wireless data (and power) transfer system for marine thrusters. (The marine sector is one of the areas identified by the investigators as a possible ancillary application area.) The system transmits vibration data from a lower bevel gear over a rotating frame to the ship's hull and is currently being trialed with one of the company's customers. The lead commercial organisation in WIDAGATE receives occasional requests for wireless within aerospace and can see application on test beds and for experimental engines.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Impact Types Economic

Description Joint research with Rolls-Royce Plc 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from Rolls-Royce Plc
Start Year 2008
Description Joint research with UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
Start Year 2008