Reducing the Risk of Catastrophic Engine Failures

Often when an engine fails, it’s not the components that are to blame, but a degradation of their lubricant


Even more surprising, no commercial sensors exist at present to monitor lubricant condition. That’s the kind of challenge that energizes fibre optics expert Hans-Peter Loock of Queen’s University. He’s working with lubricant specialists at GasTOPS to invent a compact sensor to provide real time warning of critical lubricant conditions. The research includes identifying the unique optical characteristics of the normal and degraded components of lubricants and designing a sensor head that can be submersed in the lubricant of the moving machine. The device would warn operators when the lubricant needs changing. Dr. Loock and his partner expect that the aircraft industry will be the first to use the technology, followed by car makers and manufacturers of other rotating machinery such as wind turbines.

For the period 2010-14: NSERC contribution, $611,000; industry partners and others, $391,000.