NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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14 Oct 2000

Sensor reveals defects in gate valves and bearings


The detection of bearing wear and leaks in gate valves and can be improved by means of a new micromechanical silicon sensor. Both defects cause ultrasonic vibrations in the structure.

Equipment defects, wear and the need for maintenance are easily revealed when a vibration sensor is embedded in the device. Slightly thicker than a button battery, the sensor can be used for dozens of different applications.

The new sensor is well suited to equipment self-diagnosis and remote condition monitoring applications. Based on silicon-fabricated capacitance, it is lighter, smaller, more sensitive and more robust than the piezoelectric sensors currently in use. The power consumption of the sensor is low and it is economic to mass-produce.

Manufactured to be application-specific, the sensor detects vibrations at frequencies as low as 1 MHz. The sensor's reading technology is so good that the accuracy of the device is limited only by spontaneous vibration of the micromechanical membrane, i.e. Brownian motion.

Aarne Oja

The sensor has been made as a collaboration involving VTT Automation, VTT Electronics and VTT Manufacturing Technology. The work has been funded by the National Technology Agency (Tekes), Neles Automation and Fortum Service, and the project forms part of Tekes's "Reliability as a Competitive Factor" technology programme. A follow-up project is under way to commercialise the sensor.

Additional information: VTT Automation, Aarne Oja, tel. +358 9 456 6526 or 040 510 2487.

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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