New heat sensor for jet engines developed at University of Maine

By Ramona du Houx - February 6th, 2011 · 

University of Maine professor, Mauricio Pereira da Cunha and his team have been developing a wireless, heat-resistant sensor, which allows maintenance workers to monitor temperature, pressure, corrosion and vibration inside a jet engine. The technology is revolutionary for the industry and has been in the works for over ten years.

Da Cunhaof with other faculty, staff and student researchers at UM’s Laboratory for Surface Science & Technology said when an engine has problems, an engineer must disable it, which is costly and at times not necessary. With the new sensors engines that need work would be able to be identified without question which would reduce maintenance costs and improve engine efficiency.

Researchers partnered with the Maine Air National Guard base in Bangor to perform real time tests on a 1957 military jet.

The sensors are unique in part because they can withstand temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Until now, sensors could not be placed inside the jet engines because of the extreme heat.

Researchers at UMaine hold two patents with three more are pending, for the breakthrough technology. The research is being closely watched by companies such as Rolls Royce, Honeywell, General Electric, NASA and several branches of the U.S. military.

The UMaine research has been funded by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, as well as university and state grant funds.

Environetix Technologies Corp., a company based on this technology, has formed at the Target Technology Incubator in Orono and employs several recent UMaine graduates.