Development of Ultrasonic Oil Condition and Level Sensors for Use with NEXCEL

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


Project Aim:
The aim of this project is to develop an ultrasonic sensor that can predict the state and measure the level of the lubricant inside the NEXCEL oil cell over an extended period. The use of ultrasound for this application will greatly help with the design of the oil cell because it will remove the necessity to have a channel across the cell wall, for wires leading to an internally mounted oil sensor, thus removing a potential leak path and failure mode.

Explore the synergy of ultrasonic sensing with current level sensing methods.
Identify sensor parameters and wave conditions to achieve most accurate level measurement within the NEXCEL.
Identify the most suitable properties to measure as oil degrades and which sensor type is more capable at taking those measurements
Identify which lubricant parameters can be measured to determine oil condition.
Determining the best ultrasonic pulsing method to achieve measurement of the lubricant state through the NEXCEL cell wall.
Create second prototype sensor on the NEXCEL dock, which will have sufficient contact with the bottom of the NEXCEL.
Investigate and minimise variability where possible - Temperature, dimensions, comparisons between sensors (uniform loads and adhesive bonding layers) and more.
Build prototype ultrasonic sensors using low cost parts that adhere to the requirements of the NEXCEL objectives.
Test developments on the NEXCEL vehicle fleet or an engine dynamometer fitted with the NEXCEL system.

Potential Application and Benefits:
NEXCEL is a novel and superior oil sump that has been designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, ensure quick and easy oil and filter changes, safely collect and recycled oil, ensure a precise oil-engine match and finally, it helps the oil to warm up more quickly, stopping prolonged cold starts. This project aims to add sensors that will help predicted oil level and state, which in turn will lead to better use of engine oil, timely oil changes and the longer life of engine components.


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Description The key finding is to explore the capability to monitor the degradation and contamination of batter dielectric coolants using ultrasonic sensors.

Ultrasonic shear methods were used to monitor the health by focusing on the viscosity changes. However, there are very small changes in viscosity for contamination such as water and capper particles.
This has lead to the investigation using longitudinal ultrasonic sensors to propagate through the coolant to monitor changes in attenuation and speed of sound. So far these sensors have shown promise at monitoring water contamination from as little as 0.5% to 20% and particle contamination from 1-10mg/ml.
Exploitation Route This research will be applicable to any subject with interests in condition monitoring, battery coolants, dielectric fluids and ultrasonics
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

Description The use of ultrasound for condition monitoring of dielectric coolants will impact the electric automotive and electronics industries.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Transport
Impact Types Economic