AMS engineer Trevor Toll was featured in the Fall 2019 Alumni Newsletter published by the University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering Materials Science and Engineering department. The full article is below:
Alumni Spotlight: The Toll of a Material World
by Laura Tenpenny
A nuclear power plant is only as strong as its weakest part or, in this case, cable. At Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS), known for its nuclear engineering testing and instrumentation services, Trevor Toll (BS/MSE ’12) is an expert in testing electrical cables that power utilities, manufacturers, and other facilities. Aging cables are a major concern for these clients, since their replacement costs significant time and money and impacts long-term operation.
“To help address these concerns, we have performed extensive research in the area of cable and insulation polymer aging and use a wide variety of electrical, mechanical, and thermal-chemical condition monitoring tests to determine the aged condition and provide remaining useful life estimates for industrial cables,” explained Toll.
A recent $3.5 million project from the Department of Energy, led by AMS in conjunction with ORNL and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, aims to develop criteria and monitoring techniques to help determine when essential cables may need repair or replacement.
“It’s already garnered a lot of interest from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Electric Power Research Institute, and nuclear power plant utilities,” said Toll. “Project results will provide important information on the overall health of in-service cables’ insulation polymers, inform maintenance practices for future cable replacements, and offer potential justification for continued operability.”
Toll played a major role in this project. Shortly after joining AMS five years ago, he led the charge to establish the lab in which these tests take place.
“Since then, the AMS Materials Testing Laboratory has grown significantly and been instrumental in giving us the knowledge and capabilities needed to perform aging assessments of industrial cables and other polymeric materials,” said Toll.
Amid his busy professional life, Toll hasn’t forgotten the labs at UT where he got his start. He has stayed involved with his alma mater, serving on the advisory board of UT’s Center for Materials Processing and coaching a senior design group in 2017 which took on a project for AMS to discover and test materials that could mitigate the effects of various environmental stressors on cables.
“When I was at UT, the senior design project was divided into three smaller projects,” said Toll. “Now it includes one in-depth project about a specific R&D topic, which gives the students a chance to solve real-world, complex engineering problems together. Solving problems is what led me to pursue engineering.”
That interest in solving problems also led to Toll’s first patent, one of the highlights of his career.
“The patent is for a degradation monitoring system designed for thermal protection system materials used in spacecraft,” Toll said. “The system uses embedded sensor technologies to track degradation through these materials.”
Toll’s innovations spring from what boils down to simple enjoyment.
“I know it’s cliché but working at a job you enjoy makes a huge difference,” Toll said.
A huge difference indeed—an oft-dismissed cliché has resulted in world-saving solutions, from spacecraft safety to ensuring electricity for nuclear power facilities.