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GE, Sensicast, RPI Join Forces

Photonics.com
Aug 2004
NISKAYUNA, N.Y. & NEEDHAM, Mass., Aug. 9 -- GE Global Research, the centralized research organization of General Electric Co.; Sensicast Systems, a provider of wireless sensor networking products and solutions; and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) announced today they are collaborating on a three-year, $6 million project for the US Department of Energy (DOE). They said the project will dramatically increase the overall energy efficiency of American industry by developing wireless sensor networks and systems to improve the efficiency of electric motors. The project is part of DOE's Industries of the Future program.

GE Global Research has been selected to lead the project to develop wireless sensor networks for industrial equipment monitoring. It will initially focus on analyzing the efficiency of industrial motors. Sensicast is providing mesh networking software that eliminates signal interference and integrates the wireless network into the existing plant network. RPI is developing physics-based models for analysis and lifetime prediction of the motors.

Wireless sensors will be installed on selected motors in a plant operation. The sensors will monitor parameters critical to each motor's condition and efficiency based on a combination of measurements such as vibration, temperature and power quality. This data is then transmitted wirelessly to a computer that analyzes the data from each sensor. Any potential problems are transmitted to plant personnel via phone, pager or e-mail as an advanced warning system.

"GE shares the DOE's commitment to use technology however possible to help improve America's energy efficiency," said Dan Sexton, project leader at GE Global Research. "Wireless sensor networks have the potential to provide cost-effective new technology to dramatically increase energy efficiency throughout industry."

GE Global Research said in a statement, "Many wireless systems today are one way, so the system can receive data, but not send commands or confirmation back to the device. This system will have two-way communications, enabling the use of control applications. For example, if a monitoring system is being used on a generator and has sent notification that it is running too hot, the monitoring personnel could issue wireless commands back to the generator for it to turn on its exhaust fan.

It said these capabilities could have applications in many industries, but some exciting possibilities include security applications. A security application in the home would include being notified of certain events combined with the ability to give commands back to the security system. For example, a person could be notified if someone arrived at their home when they weren't there, and then commands could be sent back to the system to disarm the system and unlock the door if needed. Other applications include process monitoring and control, asset tracking and patient monitoring.

For more information, visit: www.research.ge.com



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