Environmental Sensors

(Also see Environmental Sensors in our portfolio.)

The Challenge

Our team was funded by the US Navy to design and develop a new technology that will precisely determine product freshness. The need was for inexpensive environmental exposure tracking sensors that are capable of sensing cumulative exposure to temperature and humidity.

Sensor Development

In SBIR Phase I and Phase II efforts, CRG developed low-cost, no-power visual and radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors capable of determining product freshness or munitions quality. Without the use of batteries or digital memory, these shape memory polymer-based sensors can track the environmental exposure of objects with life cycles up to 20 years. As the sensor is exposed to environments above the customized settings, the shape memory material transitions from a rigid epoxy polymer to a high-performance elastomer, allowing for the recovery of stored energy, which translates into a change in shape and elasticity modulus. Tailoring the size, shape, and material of the sensor allows for monitoring of a variety of temperatures from <0°C to 260°C (<32°F to 500°F) as well as humidity levels. Once the sensor has been activated by negative environmental conditions, the product's freshness or environmental exposure is in question.

Moving into the Market

These sensors can serve multiple markets, with affordable products ranging from frozen food reliability sensors for consumer confidence to munitions monitoring for defense agencies. These patent-pending sensors provide supply-chain accountability within multiple markets, including munitions, environmentally sensitive consumer products, wine, canned beverages, and any kind of perishable goods.