Feb 06 2009

Applications of FOS technology are growing…

Published by at 11:16 am under Instruments,OS Technology,Sensors

Applications of FOS technology are growing for industrial process monitoring. Engineers in plants producing glass, chemicals, metals, paper and plastics are using FOS to measure where other sensing technologies perform poorly or not at all. Fiber optic technology provides solutions for high EMI environments, areas where explosion risks persist, and where sensor density requirements make installation and cabling too expensive and cumbersome.

One recent example is an installation by Hatch Ltd. Hatch is a designer and supplier of custom designed furnaces and furnace components for the production of metals. They are using arrays of FBG sensors inside the furnaces used in smelting operations to provide a dense map of temperatures in the critical zones — information that can detect hot spots. FBG sensors provide superior temperature measurements and measurement density compared to thermocouples, which are traditionally used. This information guards against costly and potentially dangerous breaches of the furnace insulation systems and will allow maintenance to be driven by the actual furnace condition rather than a simple schedule for preventive maintenance. The use of FBG technology is part of an on-going effort by Hatch to develop a Diagnostic System (patent pending) for furnaces and other metallurgical reactors that will estimate the health or remaining life of the equipment.

Phil Shadlyn, a key engineer on this project, told me: “It really couldn’t have gone better. [Hatch's] sensor design worked as planned, and installation was smooth. [Our customer] was pleased with how easy it was to use the Micron Optics instruments and software. We will continue to monitor the installation and if everything progresses as planned, we’ll deploy several more installations throughout the next two years.”

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