Scott Jensen and his team developed the Valve Health Monitoring System (VHMS), a technology designed for detecting deterioration in the mechanical integrity of high-geared ball valves and linearly actuated valves. Beyond valve monitoring, the technology has also been effective at performing real-time verification for structural integrity of hydrogen barge dock facilities.

NASA Tech Briefs: What makes the VHMS such a valuable tool for testing valves?

Scott Jensen: We work with different cryogenic fluids in our environments. We have hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and large vessels that control those. Some of the valves that we have are 12-foot-high structures. Pulling them out of the field to rework them can easily take six months. These are million-dollar items, so to have a spare valve on hand is cost-prohibitive.

NASA Tech Briefs: What is unique about the VHMS?

Jensen: One of the novelties of this device is that it can be in a “standby mode.” Until it's ready to go, it's not using any power. The VHMS can sit there for an infinite amount of time. Once the VHMS is woken up, it uses activation power from the system itself. It comes to life, takes your instrument values, and then can wirelessly transmit or just store log data to provide the health management and monitoring capabilities.

NTB: Do you see the VHMS being used in more commercial applications?

Jensen: Definitely. Viewing the VHMS as a valve monitor really does not do it justice. The VHMS is capable of monitoring all kinds of facilities and infrastructure — underground piping pressures, any kind of storage vessel, field items, and small areas. It's really limitless. You think about strains; it can bring in pressures, forces, weights, and any [measurements] like that.

And the device is so power-conservative that you can put it out there and pretty much forget about it. You don't have to worry about maintaining and running the batteries. The monitoring system also includes the ability to bring in several energy-harvesting devices such as thermoelectric, piezo-type collection devices, as well as solar, and those devices will charge and run the [VHMS]. So you just put it in place, forget about it, and let it collect the data.

NTB: What's next with the technology?

Jensen: The other side of this is energy harvesting. The devices that are out there are advancing in combinations such that you could combine thermoelectric with vibrational-type environments. You could use the vibration from a truck driving over a bridge to actually power the system and even trigger data collection. So you embed this into the structure of the bridge, and have it give you back strains or monitoring on certain areas. Every day, when somebody drives over it, the system sends back a little piece of data. You don't have to worry about it; it'll flag any issues that come up.

To learn more about the VHMS, read a full transcript, or listen to a downloadable podcast, visit

Want to learn more about the VHMS?

Register for Scott Jensen's live webcast on August 5. Go to to sign up for the free presentation.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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