SmartFiber project to develop monitoring system for composites

Partners in the SmartFiber project are Airborne International, IMEC, Ghent University, FBGS Technologies, Xenics, Fraunhofer and Optocap.

This consortium will aim to develop a smart miniaturised system for continuous health monitoring for composite structures. It will integrate optical fibre sensor technology, nanophotonic chip technology and low-power wireless technology. The goal is to demonstrate a smart system so small (in the order of millimetres) that it can be embedded in the fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) structure.

The sensor system will enable automated surveillance of composite structures, resulting in improved safety. For example, the monitoring of composite wind turbine blades will enable the turbine to operate much closer to its design limits, increasing wind energy capture and thus electrical energy output. It will also provide a continuous record of structural data which will inform decisions on maintenance, thereby eliminating the need for expensive, periodic maintenance, as well as warning of potentially catastrophic mechanical failures.

Airborne International will investigate opportunities for automated embedding of the optical fibres and the sensor system in the composite, with technologies such as automated fibre placement, automated textile manufacturing and pick-and-place for assembly.

The SmartFiber project is co-financed by the European commission and coordinated by Imec.