MicroStrain Lands $730,000 Phase II SBIR for Energy Harvesting RFIDs on Army Helicopters
The US Army recently awarded MicroStrain, Inc. a Phase II SBIR contract to continue to develop a comprehensive and wirelessly networked health management capability that can be embedded directly into rotorcraft components. Providing the technology to manage the health of rotating helicopter structural components is expected to significantly reduce operational costs, increase mission readiness, and enhance safety.
MicroStrain’s Phase II SBIR effort includes a demonstration of embedded energy harvesting radio frequency identification (EH-RFID) nodes with capabilities of unique identification, performance monitoring, on board storage of component usage history, and remaining useful life.
Bridging the gap between design assumptions and actual usage, MicroStrain’s wireless energy harvesting sensors will continuously measure the loads on critical rotating helicopter structures during flight. By converting ambient strain and vibration energies into power, the sensors don’t require battery maintenance.
The EH-RFIDs will be compatible with existing wireless sensor data aggregators (WSDAs), which feature an open architecture interface to HUMS boxes. EH-RFID nodes will also be designed to perform autonomously on aircraft which may not have an installed HUMS system. The company states that one of the unique aspects of our Army Phase II SBIR effort is that the EH-RFID sensor nodes will be designed to consume very little energy. This facilitates continuous operation using highly miniaturized energy harvesters, which greatly reduces the barriers to embedded sensor installation.
The development of usage tracking RFID nodes with energy harvesting capabilities will represent a major advance by enabling significant cost savings and opening up many new applications in structural health monitoring and machine condition based maintenance.