Tutorial: Fiber-Optic Sensing for Power and Energy Industries


Optical sensors and photonic devices have technically matured to the point that they are increasingly considered as alternatives for their electronic counterparts in numerous applications across the industry. In particular, the utilization of optical sensors has been considered for harsh, high-voltage or explosive environments where conventional transducers are difficult to deploy or where their operation is compromised by electromagnetic interference.

This prospective tutorial will explain the motivation for research on fiber-optic sensors, highlight the basic theories underlying their operation, and present selected examples of R&D projects carried out within the Advanced Sensors Team in the Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of Strathclyde and Synaptec, targeting a range of industrial applications. The goal is to highlight great potential of optical sensors and to enrich recipients’ experience in instrumentation and measurement using alternative, non-electronic methods.

Alternatively, for audiences with greater photonics sensors awareness, the tutorial can be tailored to solely focus on reporting the most recent progress in fiber sensing research for power and energy industries carried out within the research and engineering teams. In this instance, the tutorial will highlight and detail specific examples of the measurement needs within the power and energy sectors and report on the novel approaches in fiber sensing to address these needs. In particular, it will cover such applications as distributed voltage and current measurement for power system metering, protection and control in the context of terrestrial and offshore energy transport infrastructure; structural health monitoring of wind turbine foundations; and measurement of the loss of loading within prestressing steel tendons used for reinforcing concrete pressure vessels and containment vessels in nuclear power stations. As the potential good solutions to these respective measurement needs, this tutorial will introduce such emerging technologies as the hybrid fiber Bragg grating (FBG) voltage and current sensors; and novel methods of fibre optic sensor packaging in metallic components for deployment in harsh industrial environments. The tutorial will present the most recent progress in these thematic areas.


Speaker Bio

Pawel Niewczas

Reader / Co-Founder, R&D DIrector University of Strathclyde / Synaptec Ltd.

Dr Pawel Niewczas is a Reader in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. He is leading the Advanced Sensors Team within the Institute for Energy and Environment in the same department. His main research interests center on the advancement of photonic sensing methods and systems integration in applications that lie predominantly in power and energy sectors. He has carried out a unique portfolio of research programs, generally focusing on fiber based spectrally encoded sensors, and addressing such issues as sensor design, fabrication, packaging, deployment, and interrogation in challenging environments. The current key strategic applications of his research include such areas as power system metering, control and protection; wind turbine structural health monitoring; downhole pressure, temperature, voltage and current measurement; and sensing in nuclear fission and fusion environments. He has published over 100 technical papers in this area and holds 2 granted patents. Externally, he holds the title of IEEE Distinguished Lecturer and is a co-founder and R&D Director of the spin-out company Synaptec.