A low-cost distributed optical fibre sensing system for real-time monitoring of spatial and temporal distributions of high temperature profiles for harsh environments.



In applications, such as boiler monitoring, fuel cell monitoring, and manufacturing processes, it is important to continuously monitor the temperature distribution to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of processes. However, temperature monitoring can be difficult in these applications which are harsh environments that current temperature sensing systems cannot withstand. Current methods of determining the temperature distribution include infrared imaging and numerical modelling for estimation. However, these methods are inaccurate.



UMass Lowell researchers have developed a low-cost distributed optical fiber sensing system for real-time monitoring of spatial and temporal distributions of high temperature profiles for harsh environments up to 1100 °C. The sensing system combines both fiber optic techniques and acoustic technology to reconstruct temperature distribution fields. Composed of a novel photo absorptive material utilizing gold nanoparticles coated in the optical fiber cell walls, the system gives off acoustic waves from a laser pulse that travels to the interior of the harsh environment, such as a boiler. Fiber Bragg gratings (FBG) are impressed within the optical fibres to detect acoustic waves and the temperature distribution is determined using a novel algorithm that determines the temperature based on the time it takes the acoustic wave to travel through the harsh environment. The 3D temperature distribution profile is then reconstructed using a Recursive Least Square (RLS) algorithm and spatial discretization using Gaussian radial basis functions (GRBF).


Competitive Advantages

Real time continuous monitoring of temperature distribution.
Novel photo absorptive material allows the sensing system to withstand harsh, high temperature environments.
The distributed sensing system allows for the creation of a temperature distribution reconstruction profile.



Power plants containing boilers and coal burners.
Large enclosures, such as sporting arenas or concert halls


Market Potential

In general, Global Industry Analysts, Inc. reports that the global market for temperature sensors is projected to reach $4.5 billion by 2018. More specifically, the 2015 Photonic Sensor Consortium Market Survey Report projects the distributed fiber optic sensor market to approach $1.5 billion by 2018 as its demand in the oil and gas industry grows.

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