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Investigations towards the development of a novel multimodal fibre optic sensor for oil and gas applications.

Johny, Jincy


Jincy Johny


Wai Keung Fung


Oil and gas (O&G) explorations are moving into deeper zones of earth, causing serious safety concerns. Hence, sensing of critical multiple parameters like high pressure, high temperature (HPHT), chemicals, etc., are required at longer distances. Traditional electrical sensors operate less effectively under these extreme environmental conditions and are susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI). Compared to electrical sensors, fibre optic sensors offer several advantages like immunity to EMI, electrical isolation, ability to operate in harsh environmental conditions and freedom from corrosion. Existing fibre optical sensors in the O&G industry, based on step index single mode fibres (SMF), offer limited performance, as they operate within a narrow wavelength window. A novel multimodal sensor configuration, based on photonic crystal fibre (PCF) and utilising a multiwavelength approach, is proposed for the first time for O&G applications. This thesis reports computational and experimental investigations into the new multimodal sensing methodology, integrating both optical phase-change and spectral-change based approaches, needed for multi-parameter sensing. It includes investigations to improve the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by enhancing the signal intensity attained through structural, material and positional optimisations of the sensors. Waveguide related, computational investigations on PCF were carried out on different fibre optic core-cladding structures, material infiltrations and material doping to improve the signal intensity from the multimodal sensors for better SNR. COMSOL Multiphysics simulations indicated that structural and material modifications of the PCF have significant effects on light propagation characteristics. The propagation characteristics of the PCF were improved by modifying the geometrical parameters, and microstructuring the fibre core and cladding. Studies carried out on liquid crystal PCF (LCPCF) identified its enhanced mode confinement characteristics and wavelength tenability features (from visible to near infrared), which can be utilised for multi-wavelength applications. Enhancing core refractive index of the PCF improved the electric field confinements and thereby the signal intensity. Doping rare earth elements into the PCF core increases its refractive index and also provides additional spectroscopic features (photoluminescence and Raman), leading to a scope for multi-point, multimodal sensors. Investigations were carried out on PCF-FBG (Fibre Bragg grating) hybrid configuration, analysing their capabilities for optical phase-change based, multipoint, multi-parameter sensing. Computational investigations were carried out using MATLAB software, to study the effect of various fibre grating parameters. These studies helped in improving understanding of the FBG reflectivity-bandwidth characteristics, for tuning the number of sensors that can be accommodated within the same sensing fibre and enhancing the reflected signal for improved SNR. A new approach of FBG sensor positioning has been experimentally evaluated, to improve its strain sensitivity for structural health monitoring (SHM) of O&G structures. Further, experimental investigations were carried out on FBGs for sensing multiple parameters like temperature, strain (both tensile and compressive) and acoustic signals. Various spectroscopic investigations were carried out to identify the scope of rare earth doping within the PCF for photoluminescence and Raman spectroscopy based multimodal sensors. Rare earth doped glasses (Tb, Dy, Yb, Er, Ce and Ho) were developed using melt-quench approach and excitation- photoluminescence emission studies were carried out. The studies identified that photoluminescence signal intensity increases with rare earth concentration up to an optimum value and it can be further improved by tuning the excitation source characteristics. Photoluminescence based temperature studies were carried out using the rare earth doped glasses to identify their suitability for O&G high temperature conditions. Raman spectroscopic investigations were carried out on rare earth (Tb) doped glasses, developed using both melt-quench and sol-gel based approaches. Effect of 785 nm laser excitation on Raman signatures and suitability of rare earth doped materials for fibre-based Raman distributed temperature sensing (DTS) were also studied. Finally, a novel multimodal fibre optic sensor configuration is proposed for the O&G applications, consisting of rare earth doped photonic crystal fibre integrating Bragg gratings and operating in multiple wavelength regimes in a multiplexed fashion. The integrated sensor combination is expected to overcome the limitations of existing sensors with regards to SNR, sensing range and multimodal sensing capability.


JOHNY, J. 2019. Investigations towards the development of a novel multimodal fibre optic sensor for oil and gas applications. Robert Gordon University [online], PhD thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 27, 2020
Keywords Fibre optics; Sensors; Oil and gas engineering
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