Fibre-Optic Displacement and Temperature Sensing Using Coupling Based Intensity Modulation and Polarisation Modulation Techniques
Abstract: Optical fibre sensors are employed in the measurements of a number of different physical properties or for event detection in safety and security systems. In those environments which suffer from electromagnetic disturbance, in harsh environments where electronics cannot survive and in applications in favour of distributed detection, fibre-optic sensors have found natural areas of use. In some cases they have replaced conventional electronic sensors due to better performance and long-term reliability, but in others they have had less success mainly due to the higher costs which are often involved in fibre-optic sensor systems.Intensity modulated fibre-optic sensors normally require only low-cost monitoring systems principally based on light emitting diodes and photodiodes. The sensor principle itself is very elemental when based on coupling between fibres, and coupling based intensity modulated sensors have been utilised over a long period of time, mainly within displacement and vibration sensing. For distributed sensing based on intensity modulation, optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) systems with customised sensor cables have been used in the detection of heat, water leakage and hydrocarbon fluid spills.In this thesis, new concepts for intensity modulated fibre-optic sensors based on coupling between fibres are presented, analysed, simulated and experimentally verified. From a low-cost and standard component perspective, alternative designs are proposed and analysed using modulation function simulations and measurements, in order to find an improved performance. Further, the development and installation of a temperature sensor system for industrial process monitoring is presented, involving aspects with regards to design, calibration, multiplexing and fibre network installation. The OTDR is applied as an efficient technique for multiplexing several coupling based sensors, and sensor network installation with blown fibre in microducts is proposed as a flexible and cost-efficient alternative to traditional cabling.As a solution to alignment issues in coupling based sensors, a new displacement sensor configuration based on a fibre to a multicore fibre coupling and an image sensor readout system is proposed. With this concept a high-performance sensor setup with relaxed alignment demands and a large measurement range is realised. The sensor system performance is analysed theoretically with complete system simulations, and an experimental setup is made based on standard fibre and image acquisition components. Simulations of possible error contributions show that the experimental performance limitation is mainly related to differences between the modelled and the real coupled power distribution. An improved power model is suggested and evaluated experimentally, showing that the experimental performance can be improved down towards the theoretical limit of 1 μm.The potential of using filled side-hole fibres and polarisation analysis for point and distributed detection of temperature limits is investigated as a complement to existing fibre-optic heat detection systems. The behaviour and change in birefringence at the liquid/solid phase transition temperature for the filler substance is shown and experimentally determined for side-hole fibres filled with water solutions and a metal alloy, and the results are supported by simulations. A point sensor for on/off temperature detection based on this principle is suggested. Further the principles of distributed detection by measurements of the change in beat length are demonstrated using polarisation OTDR (POTDR) techniques. It is shown that high-resolution techniques are required for the fibres studied, and side-hole fibres designed with lower birefringence are suggested for future studies in relation to the distributed application.
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