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National publicity for ORC’s optical fibre sensing development

Published: 23 November 2012


The Optoelectronics Research Centre’s work developing the sensing capabilities of optical fibres has received national publicity with a feature in Electro-optics magazine. 

The magazine, a leading resource for engineers involved in the photonics business, technology and applications, focused on the optical fibre sensing work the ORC is doing that is shaping the needs of the oil and gas industry.

The ORC has a worldwide reputation in this area and is already carrying out research and development work for leading companies such as BP and the National Grid.

Dr Mohammad Belal, a Research Fellow at the ORC, explains in the article the work being done by the ORC that can help detect the strain and temperature variations in buildings, oil pipelines, dams, bridges and aircraft.

He outlined a major project for BP that has been developed to monitor the state of pipelines between oil stations and ongoing work where optical fibres are being used to monitor distributed dynamic disturbances such as tracking a moving object or mapping acoustic fields.

“Great care has to be taken when transporting oil from a reservoir under the sea to the surface or delivery point,” he said.

“You want to identify where focus stresses and strains are taking place which could result in a rupture. The pipelines have multiple joints at which more information is required at a greater resolution, therefore, the distributed sensor passing along the length of the pipe is coupled with a fully-discrete fibre Bragg grating (FBG) sensor at the joints.

“The FBG is so sensitive that the smallest swings, due to ocean swell or pressure differences from the oil moving along the pipe, would influence the Bragg wavelength associated with the grating,” said Belal.

FBGs are also being used for medical purposes by being placed inside bodies to ascertain tissue damage and can also be used as a radiation-hard fibre to wrap around a nuclear reactor to monitor its structural integrity.

“Fibre is not only being used to send information from one point to another, but at the same time to probe what is happening along the fibre’s length. The advantage is that while the fibre is being used to carry information, it is also used as a sensor,” he concluded.

Belal did his doctoral research in distributed optical fibre sensing at the ORC, and since completing this has been a Research Fellow at the ORC. His research is spread across six major research groups within the ORC. 

Find our more about Distributed Optical Fibre Sensing

 

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