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In-K Strain System: Carbon Nanotube ink based realization of ultraflexible composite strain sensors

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - In-K Strain System (In-K Strain System: Carbon Nanotube ink based realization of ultraflexible composite strain sensors)

Période du rapport: 2016-07-01 au 2016-11-30

Urban infrastructures are vital networks, absolutely necessary for the functioning of the twenty-first century urban complex. Modern societies and their underlying economies rely on the ability to move goods, people, and information quickly, safely, and reliably. Consequently, it is of the utmost importance to government, business, and the public at large to understand the nature of urban infrastructure and take the measures necessary to ensure that the flow of services provided by it continues unimpeded in the face of a broad range of natural and manmade hazards. But infrastructures are susceptible to damage from extreme loads, such as wind, floods or fires, earthquakes, landslides or overloads. Moreover, those same structures can suffer long-term damage if their strength is allowed to deteriorate gradually over time. Repair of damage is very costly. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is able mitigate high maintenance costs by detecting and measuring damaging phenomena as they occur. Likewise, SHM can mitigate long-term damage by continuously monitoring the structural condition of key components and is particularly valuable after there has been a damaging event, if there are concerns about the remaining stability of a structure. But although Structural Health Monitoring is able play a major role in infrastructure maintenance, to date only a very selected part is monitored, due to the high costs of well structured SHM installations. At present, SHM installations are high cost custom projects, tailor made for each single infrastructure, and therefore employed only on a few very selected targets.
The aim behind the In-K Strain System is to bring to the market a cost effective, scalable, reliable solution for extended automated remote real-time Structural Health Monitoring of infrastructures, through a completely innovative approach to sensor design and material, data/information management and transmission. At the heart of the In-K Strain System is an innovative, patented Smart Skin Sensor, based on the use of carbon nanotube ink applied through a commercial inkjet printer on advanced composite material.
Thanks to the reduced costs of our In-K Sensor System, SHM will become affordable for application on a large number of targets, up to date without continuous structural control. The innovative design and material of the sensors make them perfectly suited not only for installation on new constructions but especially for SHM retrofit operations on existing infrastructure.
During the 5 month of our SME Instrument Phase 1 project we have carried out the following tasks:
-Sensor design: We did develop important new working design for our smart skin sensor, able to further cut down on cost while bettering performance. Also one-meter-sensors development for penstock/pipeline application has been concluded.
Dedicated laboratory installation: We did carry out further laboratory installations of our In-K Strain System and deepened our thermostatic chamber tests for sensor characterization.
IP Management: The PCT process for two patents had been advanced and strategic aspects had been clarified with our patent advisor. We are preparing for patent integration with a further application.
-Risk management plan: We did conduct a deep the risk assessment for our project, results are part of the Business Plan.
-Financial need analysis: We did carry out a detailed financial need analysis which is part of the business plan.
-Business Plan: A detailed business plan had been elaborated.
-Partner search: Our search for new partners and stakeholders has lead to important new collaborations in different fields, so as electronics development, commercialization and installation.
On our rapidly urbanizing planet the everyday life of the world’s growing population is increasingly sustained by vast and complex systems of infrastructure. Whilst sometimes taken for granted—at least when they work—energy, water, transport and communication infrastructures allow modern urban life to exist. These systems help transform the natural into the cultural, the social and the urban. The political, economic, social and environmental importance of infrastructure grows as the world becomes more urban. Over 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities; 75 percent of the world’s population is projected to live in them by 2050. As this great demographic shift continues, people’s lives will become ever more reliant on functioning systems of urban infrastructure. There is no doubt regarding the high social and economical impact of infrastructural disruption and the single infrastructure failure may trigger expanding dysfunction and interruption in other infrastructure and systems. Minimizing infrastructure services disruptions is thus key to enhancing communities’ disaster resilience. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is able to play a major role in this context, but due to the very high costs and complex installation most infrastructure is void of any form of SHM. The In-K Strain System has been contrived to offer cost effective, easy to handle and remote SHM technology able to increase the resilience and security of urban centers.
Carbon nanotubes, with only 10,000th the diameter of a human hair, are an allotrope of carbon like graphite and diamond, and they have unique physical and electronic properties: In our In-K Strain System we make use of these exceptional properties for strain sensing. We were able to replace the strain sensing element of our current sensor system, today realized through composite material pattern, by cnt ink printed elements. The advantages of using printed cnt elements are multiple: lower production and raw material cost, sensible shortening of sensor production time, perfect repeatability, extreme flexibility in sensor size, easy printing of bi- and tri-axial sensor elements. The In-K Strain System is able to cut down on the costs of SHM installation and maintenance sensibly, making automated remote real-time structural integrity surveillance accessible to a large number of entities and end users.