LightSens on the way to the industrial valorization of fiber optic sensors.
A6K co-locates research centers, universities, start-ups and a range of industrial companies on a site dedicated to engineering sciences. The junction of A6K members allows them to exchange on the technological challenges they face on a daily basis. This unique combination of complementary actors in Wallonia allowing networking, leads to the materialization of concrete projects.
During one of the many technology sharing sessions [TechShare Meetings], some of our members had expressed the desire to master fiber optic measurement in industrial applications. This shared interest allowed the creation of a technological consortium around a project team: LightSens was born!
The LightSens project has just been accredited with funding of over 1.5 million euros, and will start at A6K in January 2021. Led by the company I-care, the consortium includes Thales Alenia Space, the research centers Materia Nova, Sirris, Multitel, CETIC and the start-up B-SENS. Alstom Transport will also contribute its expertise on the subject as a non-funded partner. The partners will collaborate on this theme for two years to remove the last technological barriers that prevent the massive development of fiber optic measurement solutions.
Without the frequent interaction between the partners on the A6K site, this project would not have been possible. It is through the multiplication of this type of project that A6K aims to position Wallonia as a European center of innovation in the engineering sciences.
It is through MecaTech cluster that the project has been validated by the Walloon Region.
Fiber optics: a promising technology
Fiber optic sensor technology can be used to measure temperatures, deformation, vibrations or even (bio)chemical concentration. This technology is intrinsically robust in harsh industrial environments such as high voltage, high temperatures, explosive atmospheres and atmospheres with high levels of electromagnetic radiation.
This technology has been studied for several years by Prof. Caucheteur of the Polytechnic Faculty of Mons. The UMons start-up B-Sens, as well as the Multitel research center, already have recognized expertise in this technology.
Fiber optics: a unifying theme
Although the fields of research and application diverge, this collaborative dynamic between research centers and companies will make it possible to work on common transverse problems such as the fixing of fibers or the reproducibility of measurements. The research centers will propose new solutions and work on the acquisition of new know-how, while the companies will work on the application of these new technological solutions in their respective markets (space, rail, industrial, etc.).
Fiber optics in industrial fields
Each industrial company will exploit this measurement technology in its own field. In particular, I-care plans to use it in the diagnosis of industrial rolling structures. Alstom will bring its experience in fixing fiber to rails in order to count the passage of wheels. Finally, Thales Alenia Space will be able to measure the internal temperatures of a satellite, considerably reducing the wiring required for these measurements.
The beginning of this exciting collaboration between the A6K partners will start in January 2021 for a period of two years. The implementation of the project will be articulated in different phases: from the functionalization to the valorization through the fields of application of fiber optic sensors. The work of the members on the subject LightSens promises good economic benefits for the industrial sector in Wallonia and potentially, creating future jobs.