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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences involved in mathematically structured programming, similarity and metric search, computer security, software systems, combinatronics and digital health.

The Department also includes the iSchool Research Group, which performs leading research into socio-technical phenomena and topics such as information retrieval and information seeking behaviour.

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A distributed fibre optic sensor for liquid hydrocarbon detection

Maclean, A. and Moran, C. and Johnstone, W. and Culshaw, B. and Marsh, D. and Andrews, G.M. (2001) A distributed fibre optic sensor for liquid hydrocarbon detection. In: Smart Structures and Materials 2001 Conference, 2001-03-05 - 2001-03-08.

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Abstract

A distributed fibre optic sensor for the detection and location of hydrocarbon fuel spills is presented. The sensor is designed such that liquid swelling polymers transduce their swelling into a microbend force on an optical fibre when exposed to hydrocarbon fuels. Interrogation of the sensor using standard Optical Time Domain Reflectometry (OTDR) techniques provides the possibility of rapidly detecting and locating target hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals at multiple positions along the sensor length. Events can typically be located to a precision of 2 m over a 10 km sensor length. Sensor response time on exposure to the hydrocarbon fuel is within 30 seconds. A detailed explanation of the operational characteristics of the sensor and the underlying technology utilised in its operation is given. Experimental tests using prototype sensors to simultaneously detect three separate 50 centimetre-long events are described. The characteristics of the sensor response in a range of hydrocarbon fuels under varying environmental conditions were investigated. Some of the safety advantages in using the sensor and its practical implementation in continuous monitoring of pipelines or fuel containment vessels are discussed.