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Fiber Optic Technology as pipeline leak detection method

Fiber Optic Technology for the pipeline leak detectionSpecial fiber optic technology can make fiber optic cable a sensing one. That solves many challenges including monitoring long units like pipelines, tunnels, or power cables. With the help of fiber optic sensors, it is more likely to find the leak in a short time. FBG interrogator sends a laser pulse through the fiber optic cable and the light comes back to the interrogator. The back scattered light delivers back acoustic, vibration, and thermal data.

Distributed sensing is widely used as an external pipeline leak detection method. Distributed sensing systems easily detect changes in temperature, noise, or vibration. Distributed sensing helps in detecting internal events, for example, liquid accumulations in gas pipelines, slugs, and flow constrictions.

Nowadays, distributed sensing pipeline leak detection software includes a wide variety of pipeline applications. The systems that apply distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) or distributed temperature sensing (DTS) are already produced in many projects across tens of thousands of kilometers of pipelines. Therefore distributed sensing systems already proved to be the most cost-effective in leak detecting.

There are standard fiber optic cables with suitable distributed sensing systems compatible with single-mode and multi-mode fibers or with a combination of them. According to the scientists, fiber optic cables with the usage of single-mode fibers are suitable for both DAS and DTS. While fiber optic cables using multi-mode fibers could enhance the DTS systems’ performance. Distributed sensing systems emphasize the detection of thermal and acoustic leak signatures. That’s why there are different types of DAS and DTS systems according to their thermal, acoustic detection capabilities, and performance requirements.

For example, a research team from South Africa is currently applying fiber optic solutions for the detection of leaks in pipelines. Scientists investigated leak detection using fiber Bragg gratings. These were applied to measure strains and temperature on pipelines and in the ground adjacent to pipelines. With the help of fiber optic technology, they could detect water leaks by burying a fiber optic cable into a pipe trench with a new pipe or place it above an existing pipe.

The scientists hope that after a number of experiments they could implement distributed sensing systems in South Africa by monitoring the pipes and delivering the data about water leaks into a leakage detection center. So fiber optic solutions would give an opportunity to fix the leak quickly without losing massive volumes of water. According to them, fiber optic technology shows great promise as a highly effective leak detection system.

Optromix is a fast-growing vendor of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) product line such as fiber Bragg grating sensors, for example, FBG strain sensors, FBG interrogators and multiplexers, Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) systems, Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) systems. The company creates and supplies a broad variety of fiber optic solutions for monitoring worldwide. If you are interested in structural health monitoring systems and want to learn more, please contact us at