Use of Fibre Optic Sensors for Pipeline Monitoring 


Detection of pipeline leaks and other imperfections is a top-priority for all of us. However, without the right systems in place, this can be difficult to achieve. Over the years, the field of pipeline monitoring has seen several developments. Unfortunately, many of these systems have their limitations. The use of fibre optic sensors for pipeline monitoring is extremely popular nowadays because of its high efficiency in ensuring pipeline safety.  

Regardless of how good your design, operation and maintenance standards are, avoiding pipeline related issues is almost impossible. Apart from operational wear and tear, these imperfections can be attributed to several external factors. Functional and structural monitoring is critical to proper pipeline monitoring and safety. Real-time monitoring of pipelines can be quite resource intensive in terms of installation, operation and maintenance of numerous  point sensors  and video cameras that demand both communication facilities and power supply along the route of the pipeline.     

Fibre optic sensors are non-conductors of electricity, and known for their resistance towards radio frequency interference, electromagnetic interference, and high temperatures. As a result, they are suitable for applications involving high voltage electricity and highly inflammable materials. These sensors are not only small and lightweight, but also have excellent resolution and range, high sensitivity, and multiplexing capabilities. 

Distributed Sensing Technology  

This technology helps us carry out continuous measurements along the fibre optic cables’ entire length. This allows the detection of external stimuli such as strain, sound, vibration, pressure, and temperature changes at any point along the length of the cable. Distributed sensing can be performed in real time, helping us with identification and mitigation of potential problems before they lead to serious issues. 

Temperature Sensor  

DTS or Distributed fibre optic Temperature Sensor can be a great option for pipeline leak detection. This technology is built around Joules Thompson effect, which suggests that the under pressure, the temperature of any fluid in a confined space is lower compared to the immediate environment. Therefore, if any fluid is released from the pipeline, it can be detected by a temperature drop along the sensing fibre. 

Acoustic Sensor 

When it comes to pipeline intruder detection, the Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) technology can be an excellent option. The Rayleigh backscatter is one of the most important components used in this methodology. In any distributed fibre optic sensing method, if there is any disturbance along the fibre, the back scattered light undergoes a change at that point. It is possible to detect this change at the receiver end, which helps us reconstruct the original source signal. The backscatter signal is sampled repeatedly at high frequencies, which is limited by the flight time so that an optical pulse can complete the round trip to the fibre’s end and back. 

As a result of their high sensitivity, fibre optic cables can receive signals continuously without posing any threat to the pipeline.  In the recent times, this technology has been improved further by using artificial intelligence for accurate identification of received signals.   

To find out more about fibre optic sensors and how they can solve all your pipeline maintenance related concerns, please contact us at Austeck.