Ultrafast temperature reading for high-speed motors

How do you manage to measure a rotor’s temperature when it rotates 15,000 times a minute? CTR researchers achieved the impossible. High-speed, high-voltage motors are used to power high-speed drive units, such as compressors, high-pressure fans and certain centrifugal pumps. High speed here means up to 15,000 rpm with voltages of up to 6.6 kV!

A COMET K1 project focused on developing an innovative solution to this high-speed problem. It was again radio sensors based on surface acoustic wave (SAW) technology that proved ideal for such highly demanding applications.

In this case the motor was subject to various different load scenarios during operation but overloading had to be prevented. As a result, predicted thermal loads on the rotor, e.g. from air friction, electrical load or stray loss had to be verified with measurements. When searching for a suitable sensor principle, the researchers were faced with the problem that standard wired sensor models could not be used because of the high speed. They therefore opted for SAW sensors, which are completely passive and can also transmit information wirelessly under extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or vibrations.

Snap shot
What was particularly challenging was the huge demands placed on the reader’s speed: at a rotation speed of 15,000 rpm the sensor is only within the scan antenna’s range for a very short space of time. This means that there are only a few 100 microseconds for detecting the sensor. SAW readers previously available however could only interrogate in the millisecond range. Increasing the speed by a factor of ten was achieved by developing a new scanner.

This project is also a great success for the researchers at CTR, as the development – particularly the fast scanner – is an important enabler for a range of exciting new developments in the COMET programme.

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