UMaine Receives Funding to Develop Sensor Technologyý

University of Maine scientists are developing high temperature thermal sensors at the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST). The team has received a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Energy to develop the new technology that will help reduce emissions and increase the efficiency of fossil fuels in power plant operations.

Mauricio Pereira da Cunha and Robert J. Lad, professors at the University, will lead the project. Mauricio Pereira da Cunha is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, while Robert J. Lad is a professor of physics. They will work on enhancing the minuscule sensors that Orono based company Environetix Technologies Corporation markets.

If the sensor technology is improved to reduce carbon dioxide emissions the use of the technology will be able to alert mechanics to possible equipment failures, avoiding costly shutdowns, as well as monitor plants' efficiency to reduce the release of carbon dioxide.

The tiny sensors will be able to operate in highly hostile temperature zones. They are wireless and battery free devices that can be used inside turbine engines of an aircraft where the langasite crystal will sense constant temperature and pressure changes. This helps monitor the internal area of the engine and spot problems.

The sensor sends the information using a radio frequency to an interrogator box allowing a technician to study this data and spot any potential problems, saving money and time. The potential users of the sensor technology include the US Air Force, NASA, steel making factories and fossil fuel based power plants.

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