Implementation of Low-Cost Conductive Yarn Sensors into Aquaculture Enclosures for Strand and Rope Integrity Monitoring

· 01/2022 - 02/2024

Lead PI: Krish Sharman, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Objectives: The objectives of the research are to demonstrate proof-of-concept of a low-cost smart net/rope technology and to enable commercial scale development beyond this project that will be of significant benefit to nearshore and open ocean aquaculture. Specifically, we will focus on a conductive yarn, originally developed for military applications and evaluate its feasibility to respond to strains in a rope due to environmental and operational loads. We will design instrumented rope and strand samples, develop data processing algorithms, and test them in controlled laboratory and field conditions.

Methodology: A functional braided composite yarn with integrated electrical, electronic, and electromagnetic properties will be sourced from a project partner, and integrated into marine rope at MITRE labs. Data processing algorithms for receiving and processing information from the sensors will be developed. In laboratory tests at UMass, the rope samples will be subject to wave and tidal environments and actuation loads that mimic field operations. The design of the smart rope will be improved and tested in a field site of a project partner to assess the rope’s performance in seawater environment. Outreach activities will be conducted throughout the project. We will utilize existing image library at NOAA and at SMAST to accelerate learning.

Rationale: Failures in nets and ropes can be costly for aquaculture practitioners, and fish escape from a net pen can lead to environmental contamination. Monitoring strains in a rope can enable oyster growers to space their surveillance and plan operations effectively. Strains in longlines can be used to monitor growth of kelp. Our proposed idea is versatile and can be adapted into any of these applications. In this project, we will conduct proof-of-concept studies both in a controlled environment and in a field location. Our project partners, yarn manufacturers, aquaculturists and non-profits, can work beyond the project in developing commercial products.