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Four Tianjin University Projects Win 2016 National Science and Technology Awards

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On January 9, 2017 four Tianjin University projects won 2016 National Science and Technology Awards at an annual ceremony held to honor distinguished scientists and research achievements in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The four awards included two Second Prizes for the National Technology Invention Awards as the first contributor, and two Second Prizes for the National Science and Technology Progress Awards in collaboration with other enterprises and institutions to complete the projects. 

The world-leading "Petrel II" Glider developed independently  

The hybrid-driven underwater glider “Petrel II" was developed by Tianjin University independently. Wang Shuxin, a professor from Tianjin University and the chief scientist of Ocean Observation and Detection Laboratory, together with his team, spent ten years successfully developing it. 

An international advanced underwater glider has been regarded as a significant symbol of marine power, so the United States and other countries have strictly applied blockades on the relevant technology. The successful development of “Petrel II" glider breaks the technology restrictions established against China. 

In December, 2016, a Chinese naval lifeboat captured an underwater drone of the United States in the waters of the South China Sea. After friendly Sino-US negotiations, the Chinese side successfully handed over it to the U.S. at noon on December 20 in the South China Sea.  

It is understood that the US underwater drones cannot be compared with the “Petrel II" glider in terms of long-endurance voyages, dive depth, stability, etc. With the advantages of small size, light weight (less than 100kg), and long range voyage, the “Petrel II" glider utilizes the latest technology of hybrid propulsion and is mainly driven by buoyancy.  

The glider passed a 1,500m deep-water test in the northern part of the South China Sea as early as 2014, which established a series of new records for Chinese underwater glider technology including: longest range without breakdown, longest duration, most profiling motions, and largest operational depth. 

It can glide smoothly in complex marine environments at a maximum depth of 1514.2 meters; it can move forward at the maximum speed of 1.69m/s with an average deviation of the measured position less than 2km during a 1108.4-kilometer range; it can navigate more than 1,100 kilometers, improving the longest range of the underwater gliders from over 100 kilometers to over 1,000 kilometers.  

Distinguished for its “large depth", "long range" and "high-precision", the glider realizes independent innovation from a series of key technologies in related fields, strongly pushing forward the practical processes of Chinese underwater gliders. 

Combining the advantages of good maneuverability and high trajectory accuracy of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and satisfactory performance and great submerged endurance of conventional underwater gliders, the glider can be widely applied to marine environmental monitoring, marine resources detection and ocean security. 

Hybrid optical fiber sensing technology leads sensor security monitoring technology  

Sensor technology is one of the essential technologies for infrastructure safety monitoring. Many engineering accidents happen in China due to the lack of efficient sensor technology. Therefore, to invent a new sensor technology with stability, high efficiency and strong adaptability became an urgent need for national industrial development. 

The hybrid optical fiber sensing technology, developed by Professor Liu Tiegen’s team from Tianjin University, overcame many weaknesses of other sensing technologies and played a significant role in the field of engineering safety monitoring. 

It is understood that different industries have different needs for the sensors. For example, in the electric power industry, sensors need to resist strong electromagnetic interference; in the petrochemical industry, sensors must be uncharged; in the aerospace and the civil engineering industries, sensors need to work in harsh environments. Compared with the conventional electrical sensor technology, optical fiber sensing technology can fundamentally adapt to the various above-mentioned application environments and engineering requirements. 

However, to put the optical fiber sensing technology into actual use, a series of problems must be addressed including the failure of sensor network systems integration, the cross-sensitivity in sensor packages and the single method, long-term drift and slow response in the signal demodulation. 

Facing these complex problems, Professor Liu Tiegen and his team tried to fix them, and finally realized a series of technological breakthroughs in the field of optical fiber sensing through in-depth research, including the hybrid optical fiber sensor demodulation technology with high precision and stability, the optical fiber multi-sensor packaging technology with high reliability under harsh environmental conditions, multi-band hybrid optical fiber and multi-gas sensing technology, and hybrid fiber sensing network integration technology, which is at the forefront of technology exploration in the field of engineering safety monitoring. 

Hybrid optical fiber sensing technology has been applied to 28 national aerospace tests and safety monitoring of critical infrastructure projects in the past ten years. It took up over 30% of the market share of discrete optical fiber sensors in China’s electric power and petrochemical industry with a direct economic benefit 0.24 billion RMB during the past three years. In addition, it played an important role in providing warning signals in case of thermal anomaly. In 2012, the technology helped Dushanzi Petrochemical Company to promptly discover hidden overheating dangers.   

At present, the project has been authorized to hold 56 invention patents, including three US patents. It was awarded three First Awards of the Science and Technology by the Tianjin Municipality, the Ministry of Education and the China Instrument and Control Society and won a China Invention Patent Excellence Award. 216 academic papers related to the hybrid optical fiber sensing technology were published, 47 of which were published in the top international optical engineering journals. "The research results made a number of innovations in the theoretical exploration, technology research and development and engineering applications, reaching an advanced international level”, the Accreditation Committee said.  

Another Two Second Prizes for the National Science and Technology Progress Awards   

In addition to the two Second Prizes for the National Technology Invention Awards as the first contributor, Tianjin University was also conferred two Second Prizes for the National Science and Technology Progress Awards in collaboration with other enterprises and institutions to complete the projects. They were "The Distribution Network of Highly Reliable Power Supply Key Technology and its Engineering Applications" led by Professor Wang Chengshan, and "The Hydraulic Control Theory and Key Technology of Long-distance Water Transmission Projects” with Professor Lian Jijian as the second contributor, which were both connected closely with national economic construction.  

World-wide, the development of large-scale reliable power supply distribution networks has been facing four major challenges: the inconsistency between the economics and reliability of the construction schemes, low accuracy in identifying complex faults, lack of rapid repair technology, and a bad balance between the power grid supply side and the demand-side.  

Professor Wang Chengshan’s team from Tianjin University, collaborating with the State Grid Tianjin Electric Power Company, the China Electric Power Research Institute, the State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power Company, the NARI Technology Co., Ltd., and the Tianjin University Qiushi Electric Power New Technology Co., Ltd., among others, made significant breakthroughs in the distribution network of highly reliable power supply key technologies through the combination of production, study and research over nearly ten years. They developed a new analytical method of multi-voltage grid coordination planning and an optimized decision system of distribution network construction; they proposed a method to identify complex faults and design distribution automation systems and key equipment; they proposed a dynamic evaluation method of faults repairing capability and developed the faults repair platform of the distribution network; they put forward a multi-power supply coordination model between the grid-side and the user-side, and invented a distribution network operation control system with distributed power supplies to meet important users’ needs for power. The project was authorized to hold 43 invention patents and 8 software copyrights, 65 related papers, which were published in SCI/EI Journals, reaching an advanced international. 

The Long-distance Water Transmission Project is a key means of water resources allocation. Up to 31 inter-basin water transmission projects have been built in China with the proportion of water supply as high as 20%. With the characteristics of strong non-linearity, complex control parameters and multi-constraints, the long-distance water transmission projects without proper management and control can cause accidents like burst pipes, the collapsed dams and ice damage. Therefore, the safety scheduling and operation of a long - distance water transmission project is the key to guarantee the national water resources security. 

"The Hydraulic Control Theory and Key Technology of Long-distance Water Transmission Projects”, led by Professor Lian Jijian’s team from Tianjin University, were applied to 19 large-scale water transmission projects in China, which benefited 210 million people and helped to save over 1.8 billion yuan. Professor Lian Jijian’s team, collaborating with the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Tsinghua University, the Yangtze River Survey Planning and Design Research Co., Ltd., Wuhan University, South-North Water Diversion Project Construction Administration Bureau, etc., proposed a hydraulic simulation and control theory of long-distance water transmission and a method of segmented low-pressure water transmission. Furthermore,, they designed a new water flow oscillation equation and a method of avoiding the hydraulic resonance, which can reduce the pressure in pipelines by 70%-90%. They also put forward the technology of ice disaster prevention and control and increased water transmission capacity by 0% to 15%.

By: Wang Qiuju
Editors: Sun Xiaofang and Ross Colquhoun