Sensors & Controls

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Coal-fired power plants are limited by the lack of sensors and controls capable of withstanding high-temperature and pressure conditions. The S&C program is developing sensing and control technologies and methods to achieve seamless, integrated, automated, optimized, and intelligent power systems. New classes of sensors and controls increase the efficiency and accuracy of integrated power generation systems. Novel sensors are capable of monitoring key parameters while operating in harsh environments with real-time online analytical evaluation and measurement capabilities. Complementarily, advanced process controls focus on research in self-organizing information networks and distributed intelligence. Condition-based monitoring and maintenance utilizes sensor data and consequent algorithms to schedule maintenance based on the actual health of the component rather than relying solely on estimated lifetimes.

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The Sensors and Controls program optimizes technology for monitoring and managing the health and lifecycle of fossil fuel generating systems. Sensors are integrated throughout the plant to monitor key parameters such as: temperature, pressure, and gases. The controls development work centers around artificial and distributed intelligence for process controls and decision making in networks. Improved process controls allow for more efficient operation during transient conditions, providing for more stable operation, with tighter environmental control allowing fossil plants to cycle load more easily. These new technologies are designed to benefit both existing and emerging advanced power systems such that meaningful improvements can be made. As generational and transformational systems mature, sensors and controls will serve as an essential and enabling technology to operate these systems under conditions where optimal performance is balanced with reliability.