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Proceedings Paper

Fiber optic system for distributed detection of liquid hydrocarbons
Author(s): Alistair MacLean; Chris Moran; Walter Johnstone; Brian Culshaw; Dan Marsh; Geoff Andrews
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Paper Abstract

A fibre-optic system for the detection and location of hydrocarbon fuel spills with 2m accuracy over a total length of 10 km is presented. The sensor incorporates liquid-swelling polymers that transduce their swelling into a force on an optical fibre when activated. The standard Optical Time Domain Reflectometry (OTDR) technique is used to interrogate the sensor, which provides the possibility of locating target hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals at multiple positions along the sensor length. Response time of the sensor after exposure to the activating liquid is typically 30 seconds, dependent on the activating fuel. A brief explanation of the operational characteristics of the sensor and the underlying technology utilised in its operation is given. Swelling characteristics of the sensor polymer material in a range of hydrocarbon fuels and solvents is presented. Experimental test results using prototype sensors to detect simulated fuel spills at separate locations are then described. The ability to replace the polymer with materials that are sensitive to other liquids provides the possibility of sensing many other liquids using the same generic design.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 March 2001
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 4204, Fiber Optic Sensor Technology II, (1 March 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.417406
Show Author Affiliations
Alistair MacLean, Univ. of Strathclyde (United Kingdom)
Chris Moran, Univ. of Strathclyde (United Kingdom)
Walter Johnstone, Univ. of Strathclyde (United Kingdom)
Brian Culshaw, Univ. of Strathclyde (United Kingdom)
Dan Marsh, PINACL Communications (United Kingdom)
Geoff Andrews, PINACL Communications (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4204:
Fiber Optic Sensor Technology II
Brian Culshaw; James A. Harrington; Michael A. Marcus; Mohammed Saad; Michael A. Marcus; Brian Culshaw, Editor(s)

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