The Development of an Open Hardware and Software System Onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Monitor Concentrated Solar Power Plants

This article presents a system for real-time industrial inspection of CSP plants using low-cost, open-source components in conjunction with a thermographic sensor and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The system, available in open-source hardware and software, is designed to be employed independently of the type of device used for inspection (laptop, smartphone, tablet or smartglasses) and its operating system.
4 months ago
Authors: Francisco Javier Mesas-Carrascosa, Daniel Verdú Santano, Fernando Pérez Porras, José Emilio Meroño-Larriva and Alfonso García-Ferrer
 
Journal Title: Sensors
 
ISSN: 1424-8220 (Print)
 
Publisher: MDPI AG
 
Abstract
 
Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are increasingly gaining interest as a source of renewable energy. These plants face several technical problems and the inspection of components such as absorber tubes in parabolic trough concentrators (PTC), which are widely deployed, is necessary to guarantee plant efficiency. This article presents a system for real-time industrial inspection of CSP plants using low-cost, open-source components in conjunction with a thermographic sensor and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The system, available in open-source hardware and software, is designed to be employed independently of the type of device used for inspection (laptop, smartphone, tablet or smartglasses) and its operating system. Several UAV flight missions were programmed as follows: flight altitudes at 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 m above ground level; and three cruising speeds: 5, 7 and 10 m/s. These settings were chosen and analyzed in order to optimize inspection time.
 
The results indicate that it is possible to perform inspections by an UAV in real time at CSP plants as a means of detecting anomalous absorber tubes and improving the effectiveness of methodologies currently being utilized. Moreover, aside from thermographic sensors, this contribution can be applied to other sensors and can be used in a broad range of applications where real-time georeferenced data visualization is necessary.
 

Photo: The UAV performing an inspection on a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant (credits: Francisco Javier Mesas-Carrascosa, Daniel Verdú Santano, Fernando Pérez Porras, José Emilio Meroño-Larriva and Alfonso García-Ferrer)

Photo: Front view of the system onboard the UAV (credits: Francisco Javier Mesas-Carrascosa, Daniel Verdú Santano, Fernando Pérez Porras, José Emilio Meroño-Larriva and Alfonso García-Ferrer)

Photo: Back view of the system onboard (credits: Francisco Javier Mesas-Carrascosa, Daniel Verdú Santano, Fernando Pérez Porras, José Emilio Meroño-Larriva and Alfonso García-Ferrer)

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
 
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