An In-Situ Wire Damage Detection System (ISWDDS) has been developed that is capable of detecting damage to a wire insulation, or a wire conductor, or to both. The system will allow for real-time, continuous monitoring of wiring health/integrity and reduce the number of false negatives and false positives while being smaller, lighter in weight, and more robust than current systems. The technology allows for improved safety and significant reduction in maintenance hours for aircraft, space vehicles, satellites, and other critical high-performance wiring systems for industries such as energy production and mining.

The integrated ISWDDS is comprised of two main components: (1) a wire with an innermost core conductor, an inner insulation film, a conductive layer or inherently conductive polymer (ICP) covering the inner insulation film, an outermost insulation jacket; and (2) smart connectors and electronics capable of producing and detecting electronic signals, and a central processing unit (CPU) for data collection and analysis. The wire is constructed by applying the inner insulation films to the conductor, followed by the outer insulation jacket. The conductive layer or ICP is on the outer surface of the inner insulation film. One or more wires are connected to the CPU using the smart connectors, and up to 64 wires can be monitored in real-time.

The ISWDDS uses time domain reflectometry for damage detection. A fastrisetime pulse is injected into either the core conductor or conductive layer and referenced against the other conductor, producing transmission line behavior. If either conductor is damaged, then the signal is reflected. By knowing the speed of propagation of the pulse, and the time it takes to reflect, one can calculate the distance to and location of the damage.

This work was done by Martha Williams, Luke Roberson, Lanetra Tate, and Trent Smith of Kennedy Space Center; and Tracy Gibson, Pedro Medelius, and Scott Jolley of ASRC Aerospace Corporation. For more information, contact the Kennedy Space Center Innovative Partnerships Office at 321-867- 5033. KSC-12866


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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