Piezoelectric Structural Health Monitoring Systems
Introduction All engineered works suffer the damages of time, intended use, and disaster. Skyscrapers, bridges, dams, aircraft, and freight trucks are just a few examples of constructs where structural integrity is important to monitor for safety, social, environmental, and economic reasons. With the proper monitoring system in place, the impact of both the gradual strain of normal wear and tear and the sudden damage from disaster, such as earthquakes, can be quickly assessed and mitigated. Technology Description Professor Taya at the University of Washington has developed an autonomous structural health monitoring system that utilizes the sensing and energy-harvesting capabilities of piezoelectric materials. The device incorporates a wireless antenna for remote, untethered monitoring and a piezoelectric battery that is self-charging. Data is stored locally and can be retrieved wirelessly. Sensing is performed by an array of piezoelectric patches that are capable of reporting the strain amplitude and the frequency of loading cycles. This device is compact and unobtrusive, and it is suitable for a wide variety of platforms. Business Opportunity Effective structural health monitoring systems capable of easily and effectively collecting structural data present opportunities in a wide array of fields. These systems enable day-today monitoring for degradation during normal usage but also for instances of sudden and extreme strain and loading, such as by earthquake, wind shear, collision, or explosion. Key applications include those large or small, stationary or dynamic: skyscrapers, houses, bridges, dams, automobiles, aircraft, floating platforms, industrial equipment, roads, and earthen works are a few examples. Stage of Development A working prototype of this technology is in development. Intellectual Property Position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection.
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