Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Space Industry and Business News .




TECH SPACE
Sailing with nerves of glass
by Staff Writers
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Jul 18, 2012


Illustration only.

In the world of racing, tiny details can be the difference between victory and defeat. It is no wonder, then, that manufacturers of racing yachts are always on the lookout for new technologies to optimize boats and sails. An ingenious new sensor technology now helps them to extend the boundaries of what is possible. The constant hunger to break new records has turned boat building into a high-tech business.

The racing yachts that compete at international regattas today are sporting machines designed to reach top speeds.

The process of optimizing the boats has been ongoing for decades. However, just a short while ago it looked as if a limit had been reached. On the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in spring 2012, from New Zealand to Brazil, only one of the six teams reached its destination without technical problems - all the others were forced to either take a break from the race or give up altogether. The regatta became a war of attrition. And yet these yachts are the best in the world.

"These boats are very well constructed," affirms Ian Walker, skipper of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team. "I just think we put too much strain on them, and since they are so rigid and so light it's hard not to believe that they ultimately must break." So how do you build yachts that are faster than the wind and yet stable enough to withstand the harsh conditions on the high seas?

Back on course with sensor technology
A new sensor system from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI can help to detect weak points on time and warn yachtsmen when breaking point has been reached. Prof. Wolfgang Schade and his team in the Project Group for Fiber Optical Sensor Systems in the German town of Goslar have developed "nerves of glass" which can measure the forces that act on hulls, masts, and sails.

The technology was actually developed for monitoring wind turbines, where rotor blades and cables are exposed to high loads. "With fiber optic sensors, we can detect delaminations and even cracks at any early stage - long before a part breaks or fails," explains Schade. "All you need is a fiber optic cable, in which dozens of sensors can be fitted."

The centerpiece of the new technology is "fiber Bragg grating", microscopic structures that are integrated in the glass fiber at defined intervals and which alter the refractive index.

Light racing through the glass fiber is reflected by these lattice points. The wavelength of the reflected light depends on the distance between the microscopic structures: every stretching or compression of the glass fiber alters the wavelength.

To be able to measure the reflectance spectrum quickly and cheaply, the researchers developed a mini-spectrometer, which consists of a chip that splits light into various frequencies. By analyzing the frequency spectrum, experts can draw conclusions about the forces currently acting on the glass fiber.

The idea to use the measurement technology on sailboats came to Schade during a sailing voyage in the fall of 2010.

"Sailing is all about making best use of the wind and being as fast as possible. At the same time, you also have to avoid pushing the equipment beyond breaking point. Fiber optic sensors can help to determine the forces acting on hulls, masts, and sails during the journey in real time."

A few months later, Schade was able to demonstrate that the sensors were up to the task of advancing the sport of sailing. At the Dusseldorf boat fair he met Jens Nickel, who runs a sail workshop in Stade in northern Germany.

In collaboration with the sailcloth manufacturer Dimension-Polyant, a web of glass fibers containing 45 measuring points was fitted to a mainsail and a genoa in Nickel's workshop. Measurements were then conducted on the sails on a test journey. "It turned out that the tension in the head, right at the top of the sail, was greater than assumed," says Nickel.

"However, the strain on the clew, the lower aft corner of a sail, and on the entire leech area, the aft edge of a sail, was smaller than had been thought."

Nickel's sail workshop used the data right away to optimize their working processes. The sailmaker started reinforcing the areas that were subject to greater stress and using lighter material in the areas that were less stressed.

Schade and his team's next objective is to adapt the measurement technology so it is fit for use in competitive racing. "We have now fitted sail battens with fiber optic sensors, which will help competitors in future to find the optimal trim, i.e. the sail position at which the boat travels the fastest under specific wind and wave conditions," explains Schade.

For the first time, the fiber optic sensors and the connected measuring equipment - which is no bigger than a cigarette packet and contains an LED light source, spectrometer, and electronics - are supplying reproducible values.

This data tells the crew in which areas there is too much or too little pressure, or how stresses shift to different areas, for example when the sheets are pulled in tighter.

The results provided by the sensor technology will be accessible everywhere on board at all times - Schade's team has already developed an app that allows crew members to access real time data from their smart phones. The new measuring system will be launched shortly under the name NextSailSystem.

Research News July 2012 [ PDF 0,32 MB ]

.


Related Links
Fraunhofer
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
Smart materials get SMARTer
Boston MA (SPX) Jul 17, 2012
Living organisms have developed sophisticated ways to maintain stability in a changing environment, withstanding fluctuations in temperature, pH, pressure, and the presence or absence of crucial molecules. The integration of similar features in artificial materials, however, has remained a challenge-until now. In Nature, a Harvard-led team of engineers presented a strategy for building self-ther ... read more


TECH SPACE
Heat is Source of 'Pioneer Anomaly'

To Extinguish a Hot Flame, DARPA Studied Cold Plasma

Sailing with nerves of glass

Scientists from northern Germany produce the lightest material in the world

TECH SPACE
Lockheed Martin Completes On-Orbit Testing of First US Navy MUOS Satellite

Northrop Grumman's RC-12X Airborne Signals Intelligence System Completes 1,000th Mission

Raytheon's vehicular soldier radio system links 37 different types of US, coalition radios

Lockheed Martin to Support Intelligence Analysis Worldwide Under DIA Solutions Contract

TECH SPACE
NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for Jason-3 Mission

NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for Three Missions

NASA Selects ULA's Workhorse Delta II Rocket for Three Future Missions

SpaceX Completes Design Review of Dragon

TECH SPACE
GMV Leads Satellite Navigation Project In Collaboration With The South African National Space Agency

SSTL signs contract with OHB for second batch of Galileo payloads

Phone app will navigate indoors

Announcement of ACRIDS product line for Precision Airdrop Systems

TECH SPACE
Boeing Demonstrates Multi-location Paint Capability for RAAF

Russia and Italy to jointly develop patrol aircraft

Raytheon's ATFLIR surpasses one million flight hours on US Navy Super Hornet

Boeing Receives First 10 New Fuselages Designed for AH-64D Apache Block III

TECH SPACE
University of Utah physicists invent 'spintronic' LED

Platinum is wrong stuff for fuel cells

Toughened silicon sponges may make tenacious batteries

Keeping electric vehicle batteries cool

TECH SPACE
NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission Becomes an Observatory

New eyes in the sky

IGARSS 2012 - 'Remote Sensing for a Dynamic Earth'

MSG-3 set to ensure quality of Europe's weather service from geostationary orbit

TECH SPACE
Poison from illegal pot farms said a risk

India has least eco impact but feels guilty: study

Copper making salmon prone to predators

Non-stop Spanish fiesta a challenge for clean-up crews




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement