Smart Gasket for Catapult Low Loss Launch Valve (LLLV)
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-120
Topic Title: Smart Gasket for Catapult Low Loss Launch Valve (LLLV)
Proposal No.: N082-120-0599
Firm: Luna Innovations Incorporated
1 Riverside Circle
Suite 400
Roanoke, Virginia 24016
Contact: Nathan Brown
Phone: (434) 220-2501
Web Site:
Abstract: Availability and operation of all four steam catapults is vital to carrier flight operations. The valve directing steam to the catapult cylinders employs gaskets that fail unexpectedly due to degradation of filler preload. The gasket condition affects launch valve performance and eventually necessitates replacement of the launch valve assembly to restore performance. The gasket failure and lengthy valve repair process are detrimental to carrier readiness and increase maintenance costs. Currently, maintainers are unable to monitor gasket condition or predict gasket remaining useful life. To address this critical need, Luna Innovations will leverage its non-destructive evaluation and health monitoring expertise to develop a retrofit system for detecting gasket integrity using ultrasonic transducers mounted to the valve exterior. Key advantages of this approach are: 1) no valve design changes, 2) no gasket modifications, and 3) the external monitoring system can be directly wired to catapult systems. This approach supports rapid integration and is a more reliable alternative to wireless/energy scavenging approaches. The Phase I effort focuses on demonstrating ultrasonic measurement sensitivity to gasket load and damage state using representative housing and gasket geometries and materials. The hardware and software to support a gasket diagnostic and prognostic health monitoring system will be established.
Benefits: The technology developed under this program would be broadly applicable to any critical equipment using gasket seals where seal failure and unscheduled maintenance are significant safety, environmental or cost risks. Nuclear and fossil fuel power, and chemical process industries would benefit from the proposed gasket health monitoring system. The monitoring system would allow for autonomous health monitoring and support condition based maintenance of pressurized process systems to minimize unscheduled outages. In addition to cost savings, gasket monitoring system would minimize risks of chemical spills in environmentally sensitive areas that can go unnoticed for extended periods of time. This technology has the potential to provide gasket manufacturers with an additional screening tool to can be used assess product quality. Current tests observing gasket force and deflection would be supplemented with additional information related to gasket internal stress state providing further insight for modeling gasket performance and development of new designs.