Distributed Sensing for Seismic Monitoring Systems

We have already published a range of articles referring to different applications of fiber optic technology in various industries and fields. Geophysics has also applied distributed sensing as a powerful instrument for structural health monitoring, such in, the oil and gas industry, tunnel safety monitoring, etc.

Seismic monitoring has been no exception. Resistance to electromagnetic disturbance, cost-effectiveness and possibility of implementing into hard-to-reach regions or places that can be harmful for human health are undeniable advantages of distributed sensing systems.Distributed Sensing for Seismic Monitoring Systems

What is Distributed Sensing Technology?

Distributed sensing is a technology that provides continuous measurements in real-time. Compared to traditional sensors, placed at certain points, distributed sensing acts as a sensing element along its entire length because the whole fiber optic cable is applied.

Due to the exploitation of the entire fiber optic cable all over its length, this method is considered to be one of the most cost-effective tools that can be placed in severe conditions.

Operation Principle of the Distributed Sensing Systems

In simpler terms, DAS systems as a part of the distributed sensing technology consist of several components including fiber optic cable and an attached optoelectronic device – FBG interrogator. The interrogator sends short pulses of the pulsed laser light into fiber optic cable. Then the backscattered light moves back up the fiber to the FBG interrogation unit. Due to the time that the laser pulse takes, there can be found the relation backscatter event and a fiber distance.

The FBG interrogator is connected to a processing unit that processes and stores the received data. This unit gets the raw data and transfers it into the information that is displayed in the program.

The software provides the visualized analysis that includes the previous data as well. In case there are any differences, fiber optic system alarms specialists. For instance, the system can display the location of the fiber optic cable on the map and highlight locations where the rates have changed or exceeded acceptable limits.

What’s the Difference Between DAS and DTS Systems?

Traditionally, distributed sensing systems are divided into distributed temperature sensing and distributed acoustic sensing.

The main difference between DTS and DAS systems is the type of signals they get to provide analysis. DTS systems are sensitive to temperature changes, while DAS is sensitive to acoustic vibrations. Therefore, their operation principle is also different. Due to the fiber qualities, the performance of DTS systems is able to stay at the necessary high injected pump power level. At the same time, DAS systems don’t require such high pump power as DTS systems because of the Rayleigh scattering.

DAS Systems and Their Applications in Seismic Monitoring

If we are talking about seismic monitoring, distributed acoustic sensing is used. DAS systems measure any vibrations that can’t be detected by DTS technology.

The goal of all seismic monitoring systems is warning before any accident occurs. Their effectiveness depends on the accuracy of the obtained data, lifetime and length. That’s why there is a necessity in a continuous operating system that is capable of working in severe environments and over long distances.

DAS systems were implemented as seismic monitoring systems due to the above-mentioned advantages as well as low cost, no special maintenance, robustness, etc. Therefore, distributed acoustic systems have provided new capabilities for seismic monitoring.

Field Projects Where Sensing Systems Were Applied

If we are talking about sensing systems, in most cases fiber optic sensors were more effective in comparison with the conventional electronic ones. That provides unrivaled performance, especially in critical applications.

For example, two years ago the specialists started a range of experiments in the Arctic and the Arctic Ocean. This is the first case when DAS systems were installed in the Arctic. Scientists wanted to get the analysis of the seafloor seismic activities and other processes under Arctic sea ice with a distributed acoustic sensing system. Fiber optic cable catches the vibrations about all the changes of the ocean 24/7.

The other project with DAS systems has also allowed scientists to see them in other severe environmental conditions. Since they are installed mostly in the ground, specialists have monitored their performance in snow. The most concerning parameters for them were the snow depth and severe frosts.

Finally, in the conditions of decreasing temperatures the reduction in background noise and better signal-to-noise ratio was noticed. In fact, the lower temperatures, the better results distributed acoustic sensing has provided. Cold temperatures don’t make fiber optic performance difficult or interfere with accuracy of the received data. Moreover, fiber optic cable is able to transfer signals at snow depths of at least 0.65m.

Distributed sensing as a tool for seismic monitoring systems has proved to be effective in detection of any seismic shocks and flow changes. All in all, DAS provides capabilities for seismic monitoring of the near surface.

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 info@optromix.com

Distributed Temperature Sensing Systems for Coal Mines

Distributed temperature sensing systems as well as fiber Bragg optic sensors are focused on the continuous monitoring of the constructions’ health condition and prevention of potential damages. The DTS system consists of a fiber optic cable, typically several kilometers long, that works as a temperature sensor. As a result, specialists can watch all dynamic temperature changes in a continuous temperature profile.DTS Systems for Coal Mines

DTS Systems as a Fire Detection Technology

In the mining industry, the risk of fires still remains very high. Conventional fire and heat alarm systems require constant and expensive maintenance and are not as effective as fiber optic monitoring systems. Thanks to modern DTS technology, both of these problems are now solved.

There are many forces in mines that can cause a fire. The possibility of fire is especially high in certain locations due to the complicating factors such as:

  • geological settings;
  • presence of the vehicles, heat-generating and mobile equipment;
  • conveyor failures;
  • lighting faults, etc.

Distributed temperature sensing systems have been proven to outperform standard fire detection systems in a range of aspects including efficiency and high level of safety.

The DTS system includes a single fiber optic cable and a DTS unit. The traditional system includes many components and devices. The distinction of DTS results in lower installation and maintenance costs due to less equipment, and in improved system reliability. Therefore, there is no need in its regular service that can be complicated because of the difficulty of access and huge size of the mine. Moreover, the conducted field projects have demonstrated that fiber optic sensors inform the operators about the heat significantly earlier than a fire starts.

All these advantages have made DTS technology one of the main methods for the detection of potential fires or other abnormal conditions.

Fiber Optic Sensors for Detection of Faulty Conveyor Belt Rollers

The conveyor belts are cost-effective instruments for continuous transporting of dry bulk materials over various distances. Due to the latest technologies, the accidents related to the problems with conveyor belts are relatively rare in modern underground coal mines. However, to this day there is a possibility of causing damage related to the conveyor belt accidents that can result in the interruption of the production process.

The reliability of the whole conveyor belt depends on the robustness of its separate components. Distributed temperature sensing (DTS) system helps to monitor the thermal conditions of each idler and detect the malfunctions. DTS systems use the latest advancements of fiber optic technology. They have proven to be a safe method of application in underground mines.

There are some aspects to consider when choosing the suitable monitoring system. Firstly, it is not easy to obtain data from a vast area. It requires the setting up of thousands of sensor elements. Secondly, the data transmission can be challenging due to the underground mine environment. Therefore, some types of equipment are prohibited for usage, such as electrical cables. Fiber optic monitoring systems have been able to solve a number of such issues that engineers usually face during underground mining.

The DTS system consists of a DTS unit and a fiber optic cable. The system measures temperature along the entire length of the cable and transmits the data to the operators who can detect any mechanical failures of the rolling components at an early stage. The specialists see real-time data of the conveyor structure and the surrounding area.

The specialists conducted a range of experiments to find the most effective placement of the fiber optic monitoring system. The problem is that fiber optic sensors can’t be located over the idlers because they will interrupt the operation. So they are attached to the frame of the idler, as close to the bearing as possible. This affects the results because fiber optic sensors take longer to capture the heat. However, they still have better results compared to the traditional methods.

Fiber Optic Sensing for Monitoring of Roof Activity

According to statistics, there are many causes that can lead to mine accidents including dust explosions, mine support deterioration, etc. However, the most common cause of the accidents that take place in underground coal mines is mine collapse.

Design and functioning of the underground mines creates a number of complicated factors for operation. The dynamism of mining operations and increasing depth can lead to the associated risks and jeopardize an acceptable level of safety. At the same time, there are always natural risks to the mine structures, such as seismic shocks which can also lead to roof stratum displacements.

Roof activity monitoring can be used for a variety of purposes, including structural health construction monitoring of the underground openings and design optimization. For the majority of projects, fiber optic monitoring systems are applied due to their ease of use in harsh environments compared to other conventional methods.

Fiber optic sensing monitoring is able to help in reduction of the mine roof displacement and thus avoid severe consequences. There are different types of fiber Bragg grating sensors that are used to monitor displacement, temperature or strain in underground openings or nearby them depending on the purposes. FBG sensors have proved to be reliable and accurate monitoring equipment of roof activities in underground coal mining. Modern fiber optic monitoring systems have made it possible to display all changes of the required parameters on the screen almost instantly and prevent any accidents in underground mines.

The conducted projects on the mining sites have demonstrated the benefits of fiber optic sensors. The fiber optic monitoring systems can detect the slight roof displacement during the progressive face advance. The received data is usually used for roadway support and design of the mine.

In conclusion, thanks to the latest state-of-the-art technologies nowadays there is an opportunity to monitor structural health constantly. That is why distributed temperature sensing systems are widely applied for structural health monitoring of different constructions including mines. The fiber optic sensing has found many spheres of applications due to the qualities it has.

Optromix is a DTS system manufacturer that provides top of the line distributed temperature sensing systems suitable for monitoring commerce networks. If you have any questions or would like to buy a DTS system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Fiber Optic Technology for the earthquake warning

Fiber Optic Technology for earthquake warningA research team from the USA has applied FBG sensors for detecting earthquakes and creating a system for subsurface imaging with the help of fiber optic technology. The sensors were installed above an existing fiber optic cable.

According to scientists, this fiber optic system can register seismic signals produced by trains and automobiles. These signals cause changes in the fiber optics’ length from the very beginning till the very end. This fiber optic system is also known as distributed acoustic sensing or DAS.

Scientists have also installed usual high-resolution seismometers along the fiber optic cable in addition to the new DAS technology. They have aimed to compare these two methods of signal detection. In distributed acoustic sensing the fiber laser light is sent through the fiber optic cable. DAS technology measures the perturbations in the backscattered light along the whole fiber optic cable.

In fact, scientists made a conclusion that the fiber optic system is sensitive enough to detect footsteps. The other research team from one of the US universities proved that fiber optic technology can provide data about street traffic and demonstrated the results of the lockdown 2020. The fiber optic system could locate vibrations from cars and pedestrians above and demonstrated that the pedestrian traffic almost disappeared in April and stayed almost the same in June.

However, according to this scientific research, the fiber optic cable can even detect the jet airplanes that fly by. The scientific work was much easier because DAS systems are easy-to-install devices in comparison with the traditional methods. Scientists just needed to use a single fiber optic cable instead of thousands of geophones to detect ground vibration. Researchers got the same information using fiber optic technology faster. The DAS system continuously monitors the modifications in the fiber optics’ length down to changes in the length of less than 1 nanometer.

Thanks to the DAS technology the research team will calculate the velocity structure in the subsurface by measuring the strain changes. The velocity is a crucial factor in the determination of how the ground and civil infrastructure may respond to an earthquake.

Thanks to the new fiber optic technology, scientists and engineers are going to improve velocity and ground motion models in urban areas by collecting more information. Moreover, they hope to find a better understanding of the seismic risks and assess the resilience of our infrastructure.

Besides, the research team has a plan to spread this fiber optic technology for a vast territory to develop a better early-warning system for earthquakes. This is a totally new way of thinking about monitoring and designing for earthquakes that can give people time to get to shelter.

Optromix is a DAS system manufacturer that provides top-of-the-line distributed acoustic sensing systems suitable for monitoring commerce networks. If you have any questions or would like to buy a DAS system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) in the oil and gas industry

DAS in the oil and gas industryAccording to scientists, nowadays we can see newly developed distributed sensing systems that can have many appliances including monitoring of wells’ conditions in the oil and gas industry. Mostly, distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is applied in these spheres.

The engineers have an opportunity to make decisions on operational optimization onsite with the usage of the data provided by distributed fiber optic sensors. The fiber optic technology can help in well performance improvement as well as in keeping safety at the well site. And as a result, it optimizes production from oil and gas wells. In comparison with distributed sensing, there is no such method that could provide such quality and extent of detail about physical conditions.

Mostly, distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is produced to record fluid and gas flow signals, listen to hydraulic fracturing-related signals, etc. Distributed sensing systems trace changes in acoustic vibrations along the entire length of a fiber optic cable in real-time. In the fiber optic cable, there are thousands of detection points at minimal spatial intervals. Compared to the usual sensing systems, distributed sensing does not rely on discrete sensors at predetermined points. Distributed sensing system uses the whole fiber optics itself as a sensing unit.

Therefore, fiber optic technology is suitable for those who want to apply environmental monitoring in sensitive geologic operations. Thanks to the length of the fiber optic cable and its working ability in severe environmental conditions for long, it is quite popular for such use. The down hole fiber optic sensor application provides for oil and gas wells, flow-back operations, geothermal wells, etc.

The ability of measurement along the complete length of the fiber optic cable can be applied for many other applications like the characterization of contaminated bedrock aquifers and monitoring of geologic carbon sequestration projects. In addition to that, distributed sensing systems can also register the conditions of the near-wellbore area of subsurface rock formations.

DAS system manufacturers always have an aim of making their fiber optic solutions better. For the DAS systems, it is the regulation of acoustic and vibratory noise sensing. The ambient noise is always in sites and should not be measured.

That is why the next scientific goal for DAS technology is the creation of a portable vibration isolation system to maximize the distributed acoustic sensing system’s dynamic range.

Optromix is a DAS system manufacturer that provides top-of-the-line distributed acoustic sensing systems suitable for monitoring commerce networks. If you have any questions or would like to buy a DAS system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) for ice sheets

Scientists from the UK have applied fiber optic systems to observe the Greenland ice sheet and get the most accurate measurements of ice characteristics. They chose distributed temperature sensing (DTS) as the main instrument for collecting data about the ice sheets melting. The results will be used to build more precise movement models of the second-largest ice sheet in the world.

Nowadays, the Greenland Ice Sheet plays a crucial role in the rising global sea level. The main reasons for the Ice Sheet’s mass loss are the meltwater runoff and the discharge of ice into the ocean by the glaciers. That’s why the scientists chose it for the research with the help of fiber optic systems.

The researchers applied modern fiber optic technology in order to determine the ice sheet movement. To discover thermodynamic processes within a glacier, they used distributed temperature sensing (DTS). According to the research, this fiber optic system consists of a 1000 meters length fiber optic cable that transmits laser pulses. In comparison with the previous researches, when the temperature was measured with separate sensors far away from each other, the fiber optic technology measures the temperature along the entire fiber optic cable. As a result, the scientists get a really detailed profile of ice sheet temperature.

First of all, the scientists drill through the glacier to install the fiber optic cable. Then they put it into the borehole. The research team transmits laser pulses in the fiber optic cable and writes any light changes down. The light changes demonstrate the different temperatures of the surrounding ice. And the last step is collecting the data and its analysis.

Thanks to the distributed fiber optic sensors, scientists have already found that the temperature distribution is diverse. This deformation is concentrated on the lines of ice that belong to different ages and types. Researchers suppose that it can be caused by the dust content of the ice or large fractures.

The great advantage of this fiber optic technology is the fact that the temperature can be recorded over vast distances and at high resolution. The scientists are working on the other aspects that could be useful in future research, for example, deformation.

The received data collected with the help of distributed temperature sensing systems allows developing advanced designs and models of the ice sheet movement. Fiber optic technology also will help to predict its movements in the future and define the approximate sea level rise.

Optromix is a DTS system manufacturer that provides top of the line distributed temperature sensing systems suitable for monitoring commerce networks. If you have any questions or would like to buy a DTS system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system for Arctic tests

DAS system for Arctic tests The USA researchers started a number of experiments that aim to analyze the first data about seafloor under Arctic sea ice with the usage of a new method. The research team was able to connect a distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) system with a fiber optic cable. The cable vibrations can record the data 24/7. That helped the scientists to get all the activities and changes within the ocean all day long. This was the first time in history when a DAS system was used on the seafloor of the Arctic or Antarctic oceans.

The appliance looks like an electronic box that is attached to the fiber optic cable on land. It uses a laser to send thousands of short pulses of light. The small amount of the light is reflected back. And the reflected light helps the appliance to monitor events along with the fiber and store the data on hard drives.

According to the research, the DAS technology showed the icequakes, different climate signals, and marine life. The researchers are expecting to note other climate signals like ocean wave height, timing, and distribution of sea ice breakup, and ice thickness, etc. The usage of the distributed acoustic sensing system has the potential to record a variety of Arctic phenomena so the scientists can better see the climate change effects and sea life. Moreover, the DAS system makes it cost-effective and safe in comparison with the other methods. The scientists have already recorded a number of events that the traditional hydrophone or ocean bottom seismometers couldn’t even detect. With the help of the DAS system, the scientists hope to also record whale songs.

However, the research team has to face challenges during the first week of the tests. And the most difficult one was the harsh climate. It was really cold, most of the territory is tundra. It’s snowing most of the time and it’s getting dark really early. No wonder, that the team should find new creative ways of data fixing like DAS technology to get everything working.

That’s why the researchers chose a distributed acoustic sensing system to cope with the weather conditions. Fiber optic cable is double-armored with copper and steel. All the network components are created to hold the extreme Arctic environment. They have no need in sending a boat to plant monitors, moving over the sea ice to install the sensors. This fiber optic cable can exist for years or decades without replacing it.

This project of watching the Arctic ocean with the usage of the distributed acoustic sensing system is going to last over the next two years. The research team will collect the data. And the next third year will be spent on its analysis.

According to the researchers, the production of fiber optic systems based on the DAS technology can be easily automated. However, there is still a space for developing and finding new ways of optimization.
Optromix is a DAS system manufacturer that provides top of the line distributed acoustic sensing systems suitable for monitoring commerce networks. If you have any questions or would like to buy a DAS system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Fiber optic cables for earthquake monitoring

FBG sensors for earthquake monitoringNowadays researchers from California are planning to use “dark fiber optic cables”, i.e. unused fiber cables, for underground monitoring of sound waves or signals came from earthquakes. It should be noted that today millions of fiber optic cable miles remain unused underground in spite of the fact that they have numerous applications.

Thus, the researchers have developed a new technique of fiber optic underground monitoring that allows higher-resolution measurements of the Earth’s crust movement than the seismic detector networks could offer at the present time. Herewith, in traditional seismology the number of optical sensors for earthquake detection is limited but this technology makes each couple of meters a separate sensor.

Also, today’s problem is the measurement of the Earth’s surface vibrations because, in some seismically active places, there are a lot of fiber optic sensors while the areas that are far from tectonic plates have only a few. That is why it remains difficult to take measurements in places with fracking-induced earthquakes.

The new technique is based on distributed acoustic sensing that includes laser pulses with the aim of vibration detection along with the fiber. Moreover, the researchers use FBG interrogators that are placed along the fibers that transmit and detect short infrared laser signals.

The principle of the interrogator operation includes the detection of tiny strains caused by seismic activity on the fiber, then they force the laser light to reflect and bounce back to the fiber sensor. Thus, the researchers are able to determine light changes scattering over time by analyzing the rapid pulses, and this information shows where the seismic activity occurred.

The technology of distributed acoustic sensing was tested in real-world conditions and enable to extract information about the speed of waves traveling through the Earth’s surface. Moreover, the researchers succeeded in the earthquake measurement that happened in Mexico due to the distributed acoustic method and used fiber optic cables.

The potential application of DAS technology is the determination of groundwater location, nevertheless, the tests were not successful although the researchers could measure passing trucks and trains.  Unfortunately, this experimental method is not ready for application beyond research yet because there are a lot of limitations. For example, now a single sensing location along the line is less sensitive than a single seismometer and is able to measure the fiber strain only in one direction. The second problem of fiber optic cables is a huge amount of data that are difficult to manage, store, and organize. Herewith, the new DAS technique cannot be used yet on underwater lines.

Optromix is a fast-growing vendor of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) products line such as fiber Bragg grating 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 acoustic measurement systems and want to learn more, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Fiber optic solutions for security monitoring system

FBGs for security monitoringRecently a new simple low-cost technology has been developed for security monitoring of the borders. Initially, the technology that includes fiber-optic cables has been tested at the US-Mexico border. It allows the determination of a wide range of invasions such as animals, people, vehicles and it is even possible to detect their precise location.

In spite of the fact that this fiber-optic application is not new and has been around for years, the government of the USA has been slow to use it. The fiber-optic cable technology is able to detect exactly what is moving above it, and it does not matter whether it is a huge man, a group of people, a passing car, or a wandering dog.

Today, the US government continues to build a border wall that critics name a “medieval” solution to provide security, even despite the fact that the use of the fiber-optic system is cheaper than the building of a real wall. Other advantages of fiber optic cables include:

  • precise determination of border invasion location;
  • accurate detection of border invaders;
  • possibility to send quickly the information to border patrol agents in real-time.

It should be mentioned that only 1% of human communications is accounted for by satellites, and 99% is accounted for by fiber-optic cables spreading across the seafloor, buried under cities. Herewith, comparing to satellites, the fiber-optic technology is able not only to transmit data but also to determine movement that makes it more advantageous.

Moreover, the fiber-optic technology is already developed enough to be implemented in the security monitoring system of the US-Mexico border, and it is nearly ten times cheaper than a wall and can be put into operation instantly. Nevertheless, the main obstacle is the support of the US government.

The fiber-optic system is quite simple, that is why it is not necessary to put any sensors on the fiber because the fiber itself is a sensor that is able to determine motion as well as events anywhere along the fiber-optic cable length. Some companies made some improvements and enlarge the field of fiber-optic applications that now includes telecommunication, security monitoring, and even broadband internet access.

The principle of work is based on converting sound waves into acoustic information. Although the fiber-optic technology on its own will not completely get rid of the activity such as illegal border-crossing and drug-smuggling, its combination with border patrol agents will significantly improve the situation.

Optromix is a manufacturer of innovative fiber optic products for the global market. The company provides the most technologically advanced fiber optic solutions for the clients. Optromix produces a wide range of fiber optic devices, including cutting-edge customized fiber optic Bragg grating product line and fiber Bragg grating sensor systems. Moreover, Optromix is a top choice among the manufacturers of fiber Bragg grating monitoring systems. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Fiber optic spark monitoring for EDM

FBG sensors for EDMEDM or electrical discharge (spark) machining is the most advanced of metalworking technologies. EDM is worldwide used because of its high accuracy and machining applications where traditional metal removal is highly difficult or even impossible.

The principle of EDM operation includes the spark that moves from the wire electrode to the work item approximately at the same speed as the electrical signals transmitting through the wires of the monitoring system. Nevertheless,  the distance between this work item and the wire electrode is shorter than the space interval between the spark and the control, that is why there are some difficulties in monitoring.

Thus, spark monitoring is very important and needs some technical improvements. Fiber optics is the best solution for the challenge that provides a high level of process control, increases the life of the wire, and eliminates the possibility of wire damage. Moreover, the use of a fiber optic spark monitoring system improves the problem of slow electrical signals and thereby, allows making timely all required adjustments and maintaining permanent sparks.

The main aim of fiber-optic cable use is the reduction of wire wear to save costs for the user. For example, previous machines had stronger sparks and low frequency that provoked high wire pressure. Novel fiber monitoring systems have a higher number of sparks per second with less intensity.

It should be mentioned that fiber-optic cables are not limited by the electricity speed comparing to electrical wires because fiber cables transmit data through light pulses. Moreover, they are almost one hundred times faster than electrons. This improvement allows not only reducing wire wear but also keeping spark output and decreasing the necessary voltage.

Also, fiber optic cables leave behind electrical wires because of the following reasons:

  • safety due to nonconduction of fiber optics;
  • lightness despite the required power and distance;
  • higher data bandwidth at longer distances;
  • faster transmission speed;
  • the thinness of the cable;
  • the durability of fiber cables;
  • better reliability;
  • lower total costs.

Optromix is a manufacturer of innovative fiber optic products for the global market. The company provides the most technologically advanced fiber optic solutions for the clients. Optromix produces a wide range of fiber optic devices, including cutting-edge customized fiber optic Bragg grating product line and fiber Bragg grating sensor systems. Moreover, Optromix is a top choice among the manufacturers of fiber Bragg grating monitoring systems. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@optromix.com

Fiber Optics in Avionics: Optical Fiber vs. Copper Cable

FBGs in avionicsFiber optic technology is revolutionizing the avionics systems and is lightly to be the ideal solution to future aircraft requirements. Fiber optic products are revolutionizing the avionics systems and ideally to be the perfect solution to future requirements. A modern jet has enormous amounts of data flowing through it to support the latest technologies in the cockpit and the cabin. All that data has to be delivered at lightning speed. This necessity has led aircraft manufacturers and airlines to turn to the optical fiber. The copper cables co-existed with fiber optic applications for decades. Currently, designers and engineers find fiber optic products to make better sense technically and economically in the overwhelming majority of cases.

The ability of the optical fiber to transmit much more information in less time over longer distances than traditional copper wire has become the reason that fiber optic equipment is being deployed on aircraft. There are fiber optic bundles of copper cables in an aircraft and the signals which they carry are fully replaceable by fiber optic products to allow an improvement of the system in various different ways.

There are two common trends regarding data transmission in the avionics market: constantly growing transmission speeds and the need to reduce weight. Fiber optic systems are an ideal response to these two trends in providing for high-speed data and immunity to electromagnetic interference that eliminates the need for any type of screening which can often be very expensive due to their weight and complexity. Fiber optic equipment offers lower wastage, weight, size, etc. These advantages make fiber optic equipment suitable for application in aircraft where space restrictions and electromagnetic interferences could be detrimental.

Nowadays fiber optic systems have been implemented in different aircraft systems such as sensory systems, distributed opening systems, and fiber optic aircraft monitoring.

In addition to this, fiber optic devices applied to the monitoring of aircraft structures provide some advantages over traditional devices. Fiber Bragg grating sensors have proved to constitute the most promising technology in this field. In order to prolong the operation period of all kinds of complex engineering systems and avoid catastrophic failures, so it is necessary to achieve the highest levels of damage detection. The automation of the inspection process is a point of major importance to reduce inspection efforts. The structural health monitoring system on the basis of fiber optic products can be defined as a set of devices that provide information that allows us to locate, evaluate, and predict the loading and damage conditions of a structure. The structural health monitoring of aircraft structures can conduct real-time checks, reducing costs, and improving the reliability and performance of the structures. A wide range of potential structural health monitoring technologies is being developed to meet these needs, and the most promising options are:

  • electrical strain gauges and crack wires;
  • acoustic emissions methods;
  • optical-based technologies;
  • comparative vacuum monitoring;
  • microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Fiber optic products and fiber optic devices, in general, are very appropriate to perform structural health monitoring due to the fact that they have their intrinsic capabilities, such as sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, low weight, compact size, great sensitivity and resolution, and their suitability to be embedded into structures. Fiber optic devices for monitoring the strain in aircraft structures can be classified into the following categories: intensity-based, interferometric, distributed, and grating-based fiber optic devices.

Among grating-based sensors, FBGs and probably the most mature and widely employed optical sensors for structural health monitoring of engineering structures due to their fast development achieved in recent years. Fiber Bragg grating sensors have important advantages over conventional strain sensors:

  • high sensitivity and resolution, low weight and small size, the absence of the electromagnetic interference;
  • suitability for being attached to a structure or embedded in composite materials
  • high multiplexing capability;
  • wavelength-encoded sensing in a way that is totally independent of the optical intensity;
  • different magnitudes can be measured using FBGs, such as strain, temperature, vibration, or humidity.

Optromix, Inc. is a U.S. manufacturer of innovative fiber optic products for the global market, based in Cambridge, MA. Our team always strives to provide the most technologically advanced fiber optic solutions for our clients. Our main goal is to deliver the best quality fiber optic products to our clients. We produce a wide range of fiber optic devices, including our cutting-edge customized fiber optic Bragg grating product line and fiber Bragg grating sensor systems. Optromix, Inc. is a top choice among the manufacturers of fiber Bragg grating monitoring systems. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@optromix.com