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7 May 2015 High performance liquid level monitoring system based on polymer fiber Bragg gratings embedded in silicone rubber diaphragms
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Liquid-level sensing technologies have attracted great prominence, because such measurements are essential to industrial applications, such as fuel storage, flood warning and in the biochemical industry. Traditional liquid level sensors are based on electromechanical techniques; however they suffer from intrinsic safety concerns in explosive environments. In recent years, given that optical fiber sensors have lots of well-established advantages such as high accuracy, costeffectiveness, compact size, and ease of multiplexing, several optical fiber liquid level sensors have been investigated which are based on different operating principles such as side-polishing the cladding and a portion of core, using a spiral side-emitting optical fiber or using silica fiber gratings. The present work proposes a novel and highly sensitive liquid level sensor making use of polymer optical fiber Bragg gratings (POFBGs). The key elements of the system are a set of POFBGs embedded in silicone rubber diaphragms. This is a new development building on the idea of determining liquid level by measuring the pressure at the bottom of a liquid container, however it has a number of critical advantages. The system features several FBG-based pressure sensors as described above placed at different depths. Any sensor above the surface of the liquid will read the same ambient pressure. Sensors below the surface of the liquid will read pressures that increase linearly with depth. The position of the liquid surface can therefore be approximately identified as lying between the first sensor to read an above-ambient pressure and the next higher sensor. This level of precision would not in general be sufficient for most liquid level monitoring applications; however a much more precise determination of liquid level can be made by linear regression to the pressure readings from the sub-surface sensors. There are numerous advantages to this multi-sensor approach. First, the use of linear regression using multiple sensors is inherently more accurate than using a single pressure reading to estimate depth. Second, common mode temperature induced wavelength shifts in the individual sensors are automatically compensated. Thirdly, temperature induced changes in the sensor pressure sensitivity are also compensated. Fourthly, the approach provides the possibility to detect and compensate for malfunctioning sensors. Finally, the system is immune to changes in the density of the monitored fluid and even to changes in the effective force of gravity, as might be obtained in an aerospace application. The performance of an individual sensor was characterized and displays a sensitivity (54 pm/cm), enhanced by more than a factor of 2 when compared to a sensor head configuration based on a silica FBG published in the literature, resulting from the much lower elastic modulus of POF. Furthermore, the temperature/humidity behavior and measurement resolution were also studied in detail. The proposed configuration also displays a highly linear response, high resolution and good repeatability. The results suggest the new configuration can be a useful tool in many different applications, such as aircraft fuel monitoring, and biochemical and environmental sensing, where accuracy and stability are fundamental.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Carlos A. F. Marques, Gang-Ding Peng, and David J. Webb "High performance liquid level monitoring system based on polymer fiber Bragg gratings embedded in silicone rubber diaphragms", Proc. SPIE 9507, Micro-structured and Specialty Optical Fibres IV, 95070N (7 May 2015);

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