8 OCTOBER 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Sensor Systems for Performance Under Pressure Adapted from Information by Fraunhofer Recognizing a lack of robust sensors able to withstand extremely high temperatures and pressures, one of the world’s leading applied research organizations developed a technology platform to build a sensor ideal for monitoring in extreme conditions. The sensors were created by a collaboration between eight of Germany’s Fraunhofer Institutes. They sense disruptive vibrations, issue warnings when a machine is running hot, and identify damaged components. Sensors play a key role in today’s production processes. Complete production lines are managed using reliable sensing devices and artificial eyes. Deploying these watchful assistants in every area of industry has not been possible in the past because conventional sensors do not last long in environments classified as extremely harsh. These environments include the insides of power plants or aircraft turbines and boreholes in the ground, where temperatures and pressures are high. Sensors are also damaged by aggressive gases and liquids, or dust. Fraunhofer’s eHarsh project developed the first highly durable sensors for extremely harsh environments. “We have a lot of in-depth knowledge within the individual institutes,” said eHarsh Coordinator Holger Kappert from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS. “We know a lot about heat-resistant ceramics, and we have the ability to test material properties and produce robust microelectronic circuits. On our own, though, none of us were capable of creating this type of sensor. It was only through cooperation and the combination of many individual technologies that we were able to succeed.” The team began by focusing on applications in turbines and boreholes. The aim was not just to incorporate robust pressure and thermal elements into the turbines and boreholes, but to also include electronic components to evaluate measurements. “The advantage of having the electronic components on-site and of having signal processing take place in the sensor itself is that it improves the quality of the sensor signals,” Kappert explained. “It also means we can network the sensors better in the future, saving on cabling effort.” The sensor casing is made from metal, while the sensor elements are made from ceramic that can resist temperatures up to 932°F (500ºC). The internal electronics can withstand about 572°F (300°C). One challenge was combining the different components so they would not come apart, even when repeatedly heated and cooled, despite being made from materials that expand and contract at different rates. Among the materials used were heat-resistant ceramic circuit boards and conductors with a tungsten admixture which is also used for the filament in light bulbs. The sensors are not only heat resistant but can also withstand pressures up to 200 bar - almost 100 times the pressure in a car tire. In the future, these sensors could possibly be used for pumps in geothermal systems situated deep down in the borehole, where they must withstand both the heat and pressures at that depth. The new sensors create a way to monitor the pumps easily and permanently. Sensors from the eHarsh project could also help machine manufacturers test the service life of their sensors. These tests subject components to high pressures or temperatures so they age more quickly, making it possible to determine the service life of a product within a manageable time frame. If the sensors are able to function in more extreme conditions, they will be possible to run tests with higher load, significantly reducing testing time. “Overall, the interdisciplinary nature of eHarsh has allowed us to successfully develop a technology platform for robust sensor systems for many different uses,” said Kappert. Sensor head with ceramic sensor element. GEO For more information call: (270) 786-3010 or visit us online: www.geothermalsupply.com All New! Atlantis-Pro Vault • Traffic-Rated Capable • Simple installation • Trouble-free operation South Atlantic JUBILEE 2022 Dealmakers Christopher Pacitto, owner of Velocity Engineering Services of Fort Myers, Florida, was pleased to take delivery of his SIMCO 2800 geotechnical rig from Ryan with SIMCO Drilling Equipment of Osceola, Iowa. Nick and Sara (2nd & 3rd) with N.A. Manosh Corporation of Morrisville, Vermont, had help celebrating their new REICHdrill with Kevin, Mike, and Mike with Blake Equipment and Fredi (5th) with REICHdrill. John with Kelly Well Drilling of Clinton, Kentucky, was proud to display his new pump hoist from Pulstar Mfg. / Preferred Pump.