(Invited) A Brief Overview of Smart Microsystem Technology and Its Application to Fire Detection, Air Quality Monitoring, Health Care, and Emissions Monitoring

Wednesday, 27 May 2015: 08:30
Continental Room C (Hilton Chicago)
G. W. Hunter (NASA Glenn Research Center)
Smart Sensor Systems are required for a range of aerospace applications. A Smart Sensor System as described here implies the use of sensors combined with electronic processing capability. The definition of a Smart Sensor may vary, but typically at a minimum a Smart Sensor is the combination of a sensing element with processing capabilities provided by a microprocessor [1]. A more expansive view of a Smart Sensor System is a complete self-contained sensor system that includes the capabilities for data logging and processing, self-contained power, and an ability to transmit or display informative data to an outside user. This paper will consider three applications of Smart Sensor Systems: 1) Fire Detection and Environmental Monitoring; 2) Human Breath Monitoring for Health Applications; and 3) Aircraft Engine Emisisons Monitoring

First, Smart Sensor Systems can provide valuble information on a range of properties in harzadous condtions in confined environments. For example, a fire in a spacecraft or habitat could jeopardize the system, mission, and/or crew [2]. Further, an understanding of the environment on a continuous basis including after a fire is important for both human health as well as for monitoring of hazardous conditions. The development and testing of a Smart Sensor System intended to provide reliable early warning of fires, as well as to provide information related to the spacecraft air quality has occured. A summary of the core sensor technology, integration of that technology into a hardware system, and test results on the complete sensor system in a range of combustion environments will be provided.

A second application of Smart Sensor Systems is breath analysis [3]. Breath analysis techniques offer a potential revolution in health care diagnostics, especially if these techniques can be brought into standard use in the clinic and at home. The advent of microsensors combined with Smart Sensor System technology enables a new generation of sensor systems with significantly enhanced capabilities and minimal size, weight, and power consumption. A description of efforts to apply microsensor/Smart Sensor System approach in human health breath monitoring applications will be provided. It is suggested that base platform microsensor technology combined with Smart Sensor Systems can address the needs of a range of breath monitoring applications and enable new capabilities for healthcare.

Finally, Smart Sensor Systems can be used for engine health management and emissions reduction [4]. Rapid or sudden changes in the emissions produced by combustion indicate changes in the propulsion system combustion process or engine health state. A gas microsensor array for monitoring the emissions produced by an aircraft engine is being developed. This engine emissions monitoring system, which is intended for on-board engine implementation, includes the capability to measure multiple emission byproducts. The intent is to use this emissions information to assist in assessing the health state of the engine, including the diagnosis of engine deterioration and faults. Results from the application of the system to an aircraft turbofan engine are presented and discussed [4].

It is concluded that a Smart Sensor System has basic advantages as a multiuse system. The capability for such a system to be relaible, multiparameter, ease of integration, and able tailor the information provided to the user is central. From a core set of technologies, a range of applications can be addressed including environmental and human health.


1.   G. W. Hunter, J. R. Stetter, P. J. Hesketh, and C.C. Liu 2011. “Smart Sensor Systems”, Interface Magazine, Electrochemical Society Inc., Vol. 20, no. 1, Winter, 66-69.

2.   Gary W. Hunter, Jennifer C. Xu , Larry Dungan, Benjamin Ward, Prabir Dutta, Adedunni D. Adeyemo, Chung-Chiun Liu , and David P. Gianettino, Smart Chemical Sensor Systems for Fire Detection and   Environmental Monitoring in Spacecraft,  International Conference On Environmental Systems, Barcelona, Spain, AIAA766637

3.   G. W. Hunter, J. C. Xu, A. M. Biaggi-Labiosa, D. Laskowski, P. K. Dutta, S. P. Mondal, B. J. Ward, D. B. Makel, C. C. Liu, C. W. Chang, and R. A. Dweik, Smart sensor systems for human health breath monitoring applications. J Breath Res 2011, 5 (3), 037111.

4.   Gary W. Hunter, Donald L. Simon, Jennifer C. Xu, Azlin Biaggi-Labiosa, Susana Carranza, Darby Makel, “Aircraft Ground Demonstration of Engine Emissions Monitoring System Based on a Gas Microsensor Array:, AIAA-2014-3925, 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 28 – 30,   2014, Cleveland, OH