191204 Web Note Companies NERO
NERO is developing advanced monitoring systems based on non-invasive embedded sensors, which allow to carry out manufacturing and repairing processes of more efficient and environmentally sustainable composite material structures, and which, in turn, provide information on structural behaviour during life in service of manufactured structures.
The NERO initiative arises from the need to control and monitor the manufacturing and repairing processes, as well as the service life of structures produced in composite materials, an area in full expansion and which has been experiencing rapid growth in recent years.
Composite materials are currently considered as one of the strategic materials in the manufacturing processes of the future, due to the high functional impact and weight reduction that they provide in a wide range of sectors. In this way, the monitoring systems which are being developed in the project will help to overcome some of the main barriers to the introduction of these materials in the industrial environment, such as high resource consumption, low automation rates, and high rejection percentage, which significantly increase production costs.
Based on these antecedents, NERO Project is developing, through ad hoc monitoring techniques based on fiber optic sensors and ion mobility, monitoring and control systems for composite manufacturing and repairing processes in different use cases and industrial sectors of relevance in Galicia, in which composite materials are used intensively: boat manufacturing (naval sector), manufacture of liquid storage tanks (chemical sector) and repairing of wind blades (renewable energy sector). In addition, a system for monitoring the in-service structural behaviour of storage tanks is being designed to detect leaks, through the design of an alert system.
The results achieved in the framework of the NERO Project during the years 2018-2019 are presented below:
- Monitoring the evolution of composite curing using two technologies: DC ion mobility sensors and Bragg Gratings based sensors (FBG).
- Study of the embedding of both sensors: DC with ionic mobility to detect the arrival of resin and the evolution of curing through resistivity measurements, and fiber optics by using multiplexed sensors to measure the effort generated during the curing process.
- The physico-chemical characterization of the resins through Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) for a study of the exotherm of the process, as well as the total heat of the reaction of various resins that will be the reference to quantify, the next year, the progress of curing along the time.
- Study of correlation between the signals of the sensors embedded in the material (resin and resin-reinforcement) with the advance of the cure to obtain qualitative information on the degree of cure.
- This study covers a wide range of combinations to assess the effect of various parameters on cure. All this has been done with the materials usually used by end users (Galventus, Fiberglas y Astilleros Triñanes), as well as with other resins and reinforcements that can improve the processes currently used by these users (Castro Composites).
- Once test tubes were manufactured, tensile tests were carried out at the AIMEN technology centre to evaluate the mechanical properties of each case study and relate them to the materials used, curing, sensor effect embedded in the final properties of the pieces, etc. Likewise, the tensile test was monitored using FBG sensors embedded in the test tubes. Mechanically characterize the composite material with embedded sensors to detect microdeformations that take place until the material breaks.
- Likewise, laboratory scale results were validated on a real scale by monitoring at the Triñanes facilities during the manufacture of a composite ship. in order to do this, DC and FBG sensors were embedded in the interior bow area and machine area, and the evolution of curing was monitored during a manual lamination process.
- Similarly, it was carried out a study to monitor the repair of a wind turbine blade at the Galventus facilities. The damage under study was a leading edge repair using two technologies: manual lamination and infusion.
- It was performed a data treatment of all the tests in which the sensors were embedded. Subsequently, they were subjected to statistical analysis through supervised learning techniques using Machine Learning algorithms to create the software in the following year (TECDESOFT).
To face this ambitious challenge, a multisectoral consortium of Galician companies, all of them SMEs, has been consolidated with the complementary capacities and knowledge necessary to cover the entire value chain of the project:
GALVENTUS SERVICIOS EÓLICOS
Leader of the consortium, with extensive experience in inspection processes, maintenance, repair and expertise of parts made of composite materials in the wild sector and who, in the scope of the project, will be the final user of the monitoring system for the repair of wind blades.
Shipyard that manufactures and repairs composite vessels of different types (fishing boats, aquaculture aids) and final user of the NERO monitoring system for the manufacture of boats.
Pioneer company in the manufacture of fiberglass-reinforced polyester products, reinforced plastics and thermoformed products, and final user of the monitoring system in manufacturing and service behavior of liquid storage tanks.
Company specialised in the manufacture and distribution of all kinds of products related to the composites sector and which will contribute its know-how in the behavior and monitoring of these materials.
Engineering specialised in the treatment of data from sensor systems or the development of real-time supervision platforms, for numerous sectors, which will be in charge of integrating the control software into the monitoring systems.
The consortium counts with the collaboration of AIMEN Technology Centre, a centre specialised in the design, characterization and development of high-performance materials, as well as in the development of sensor systems and data processing for advanced manufacturing processes.
NERO Project, framed in the CONECTAPEME 2018 PROGRAMME, it is financed by the Xunta de Galicia through the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN) and it has the support of the Ministry of Economy, Employment and Industry and it is cofinanced by FEDER funds in the framework of axis 1 of the operational Feder Galician Programme 2014-2020.