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Most people are careful to maintain their cars and keep the engine clean and out of the repair shop. However, this week a joint NASA, government and industry project team seeks to purposely feed volcanic ash into an engine to create problems.
That's one way to see if a new engine health monitoring system can detect failures before they happen. If the tests are successful, the system capable of predicting engine challenges and improving fuel economy could become available for the next generation of commercial airline engines.
A July 9 panel discussion at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California, detailed the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project. The concept is to test and evaluate a system that incorporates smart sensors and advanced diagnostic techniques. Speakers included Paul Krasa, VIPR project manager, John Lekki, VIPR principal investigator, Jack Hoying, U.S. Air Force volcanic ash environment principal investigator and Cheng Moua, Armstrong VIPR project manager.
"The ash will degrade the engine and allow us to see in real time what's happening and how well the health monitoring system works," said Lekki, who is based at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.