This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims to develop a distributed acoustic emission monitoring technology. The new technology will provide real-time acoustic monitoring using a single fiber optic cable, distributed temperature information will also be generated simultaneously. The low physical profile renders it embeddable and minimally intrusive. The technology is designed to be low-cost, which ensures its wide-scale commercialization potential. In this Phase I research, a prototype sensor system will be built and applied to demonstrate highly sensitive acoustic detection. The focus will be on feasibility proof of the technology.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes the development of a sensor technology that is highly desired in multiple industrial sectors. The potentially low-cost technology will enable large-scale deployment of the sensor to revolutionize the sensing methodology used in a number of applications. Accurate locating and quantifying of acoustic signatures will directly benefit seismic oil & gas exploration. Distributed acoustic monitoring will seek immediate implementation in multi-zone production in gas wells, heavy oil steam-assisted gravity drainage operation surveillance and flowline hydrates, scale and corrosion monitoring. Long-span, real-time acoustic monitoring also provides a viable means for pipeline health monitoring. Another beneficiary of the technology will be distributed partial discharge (PD) detection within power transformers. It is hoped that the new sensing technology will dramatically improve the operation safety while reduce the overall cost of such industries. Successful demonstration of the proposed sensing principle will also shed light on a number of other sensing applications requiring high-speed, densely-multiplexed operations.

Project Report

A fiber optic technology for distributed acoustic and temperature sensing has been successfully developed and experimentally demonstrated by Sentek Instrument LLC during this Small Business innovative research (SBIR). The system is able to measure both acoustic wave and temperature in a distributed manner and further each sensor offers a detection bandwidth of 100kHz, acoustic sensitivity of 0.015µε, and the capability of operation at temperatures up to 500°C. The sensor system has an intrinsic ability to multiplex more than 10,000 sensor nodes in a 15km fiber. These superior performances may have a profound impact on a variety of applications. Some of the applications may include oil downhole measurements, pipeline integrity monitoring, intrusion detection, real-time assessment of civil structural health conditions, and health monitoring of power transformers and underground power cables. A commercial product, LGI-100B Fiber Grating Interrogator, was also derived from the Phase I research. This instrument is for the interrogation of serial fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs). It has four interrogation channels and each channel can interrogate as many as 10,000 FBGs over a sensing span of 10km. This product can also measure the full reflection spectrum of each FBG in a serial FBG array. LGI-100B can be used as a general laboratory instrument for FBG characterization and as a field instrument for long span quasi-static strain or temperature measurement.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Muralidharan S. Nair
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Sentek Instrument, LLC
United States
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