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Distributed temperature sensors promote warning systems

on March 30, 2020

smart-3871774_1280Temperature is a key safety indicator in any industry. The technology of distributed temperature sensors using optical fiber allows measuring the temperature at any point in the fiber, with an interval of 1 meter, resulting in the detailed temperature dependence of all required areas. The data obtained by this technique makes it possible to develop intelligent warning systems based on it, therefore, replacing outdated point-based monitoring systems.

The optical fiber itself acts like a fiber optic sensor, and the distributed nature of the DTS technology enables us to determine the temperature change at an arbitrary point, spreading many kilometers from it. Moreover, the measurement quality is not affected by electromagnetic radiation, thus, the distributed temperature technology is free from false alarms.

To be more precise, distributed temperature sensors (DTS) allow measuring the characteristics of an object along a fiber optic cable, while the fiber cable is a linear sensor, which is a continuously distributed sensing element throughout its entire length.

The operating principle is based on the reflectivity of stimulated Raman scattering of light (Raman effect). A semiconductor laser is also used to determine the location of temperature changes in a fiber optic cable. The fact is that the structure of the optical fiber changes when the temperature changes. 

When laser beam light from the laser system enters the area of temperature change, it interacts with the changed structure of the optical fiber and in addition to direct light scattering, reflected light appears.

The main advantages of fiber optic sensors in comparison with classical analogs are the following:

  • Compact size;
  • Very fast response to parameter changes in the environment;
  • Low weight;
  • Multiple parameters can be registered simultaneously by a single distributed sensor;
  • Reliability;
  • Very wide operating temperature range of DTS;
  • Small price per unit length of the sensing system;
  • High sensitivity;
  • Long operating time;
  • The high spatial resolution of temperature sensors;
  • Resistance to chemicals and aggressive environments;
  • DTS is not affected by electromagnetic disturbances;
  • The sensitive part of the fiber sensor does not require connection to power lines.

The processing unit measures the propagation speed and power of both direct and reflected light and determines where the temperature changes. For instance, at a wavelength of 1550 nm, a pulsed generation mode is used with a laser power limit of 10 mW.

There are several types of optical fibers, each of which meets certain requirements for its properties, depending on the application due to the fact that the properties of the optical fiber can be varied over a wide range. 

Physical effects on the optical fiber, such as pressure, deformation, temperature change, affect the properties of the fiber at the point of exposure and it is possible to measure the environmental parameters by measuring the change in the properties of the fiber at a given point.

In general, a fiber optic sensor consists of two concentric layers: fiber core and optical coating. The fiber optic light guide part can be protected by a layer of acrylate, plastic, reinforced sheath, etc., depending on the application of this fiber cable.

Thus, distributed fiber optic sensors are perfect for industries related to combustible and explosive materials, such as coal, oil and gas production, etc. for use in fire alarm systems of various structures.

alarm-3410065_640Application of distributed temperature sensors includes:

  • fire alarm systems in the road, rail or service tunnels;
  • thermal monitoring of power cables and overhead transmission lines to optimize production processes;
  • improving the efficiency of oil and gas wells;
  • ensuring the safe working condition of industrial induction melting furnaces;
  • monitoring the tightness of containers with liquefied natural gas on ships in unloading terminals;
  • detection of leaks in dams;
  • temperature control in chemical processes;
  • leak detection in pipelines.

In addition, DTS systems combined with other tools open completely new areas of application. For example, it is possible to design a specialized device – a fire detector based on a distributed fiber optic temperature sensor.

Detecting a fire in an industrial environment is not an easy task because of the large number of disturbing factors, many of which can be considered by detectors as carriers of fire signs. In addition, dust deposited on the DTS‘ sensitive elements makes it difficult to operate and it can disable them.

It is also necessary to take into account the possible smoldering of the deposited dust, which can also lead to false alarms. The presence of fumes and aerosols makes it impossible to operate smoke optical-electronic fire detectors. The presence of carbon monoxide will trigger gas fire detectors.

Industrial facilities and production are characterized by large volumes of premises, high ceilings, the presence of long tunnels, collectors, mines, inaccessible areas and premises with a complex configuration and geometry. And in these conditions, it is certainly possible to protect using traditional fire alarm systems, but this involves the use of a large number of detectors, and therefore they have high costs, including installation and maintenance of alarm systems and automation.

It is difficult to select detectors for explosive zones, especially for use in underground operations and mines. Aggressive media are often present in chemical industries. There are also objects of sea and river transport, characterized by the aggressive salt fog.

The use of non-electric sensing devices, the use of fiber optic cable allows the DTS to be applied in enterprises of the oil and gas complex, mines, underground operations, chemical industries (including those with aggressive environments), and metallurgy and energy enterprises.

As for oil companies, the active development of high-viscosity oil fields, which imposes strict requirements on the production equipment, and the severe depletion of most oil and gas fields require mining organizations to conduct prospecting and exploration operations, change production technologies and control the technical condition of wells.

The main task for mining companies to increase the well’s production capacity in real-time is to track information about the processes occurring in wells and fields. Solutions based on standard temperature sensors suggest well logging using point measuring instruments, which leads to the inaccuracy of the data obtained. 

The disadvantages of such sensing devices include the inability to fix the distribution of one of the most important parameters of the well – the temperature profile in real-time, as well as the need for power supply, the impact on the measurement results of external electromagnetic fields, labor and time costs required for the departure of the team and performing various operations, including the immersion of the fiber sensor element and its movement along the well, data processing, etc.

The fiber optic sensing system consists of distributed temperature sensors designed to measure temperature along the borehole, and point-to-point fiber pressure sensor. Optical fibers of a distributed temperature sensing system and pressure sensors can be structurally installed in a single fiber cable.

The fiber optic cable is resistant to mechanical damage. Additional fiber optic cable protection is not required during descent and lifting operations, but the protection of the fiber cable from mechanical damage during descent and lifting operations can be provided by the use of protective coatings.

If you want to obtain a highly efficient distributed temperature sensing system, you should choose the Optromix company. Optromix is a manufacturer of innovative fiber optic products for the global market. The company provides the most technologically advanced fiber optic solutions for monitoring worldwide. 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. 

Distributed temperature system provides continuous underground power lines monitoring of temperatures, detecting hot spots, delivering operational status, condition assessment, and power circuit rating data. This helps operators to optimize the transmission and distribution networks, and reduce the cost of operation and capital.

Usually, the DTS systems can detect the temperature to a spatial resolution of 1 m with precision to within ±1°C at a resolution of 0.01°C. Measurement distances of greater than 30 km can be monitored and some specialized systems can provide even tighter spatial resolutions.
The advantages of working with Optromix:

  • Our DTS system has the superior quality, however, its price is one of the lowest in the market;
  • Optromix is ready to develop DTS systems based on customer’s specifications.

If you are interested in DTS systems and want to learn more, please contact us at info@optromix.com

editorDistributed temperature sensors promote warning systems

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