Sensing temperature, strain, or other physical parameters in high temperature or chemically harsh environments leads to some of the more dominant problems in several industrial operations. One example occurs in oil and gas exploration and production, during which one encounters extreme temperatures or corrosive conditions that eliminate the use of several conventional sensing schemes.
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering recognizes this is a problem – as does ECE Professor Siddharth Ramachandran. The need for paradigm shifting sensing technologies is critical for future operations that satisfy the energy needs of the world, because sensing enhances both the efficiency and safety of such operations.
Taking a different approach, Ramachandran recently demonstrated the ability to create stable optical vortices in fibers, which when merged with the inherent stability of photonic crystal fibers, provides the exciting prospect of a novel technological platform for harsh environment sensing.
ExxonMobil recognized the potential for his research when they provided Ramachandran a “knowledge build grant” for $30,000. He will use the funding toward research related to optical fiber sensors during the remainder of the 2010 calendar year.
Ramachandran said that he knew that the technology he and his team are developing had promise for sensing applications but that ExxonMobil’s interest in the project will now give them the opportunity to test their concepts in a real-world context – “an ideal scenario for any engineer.”
He added: “And, the fact that this work may impact the energy sector of the US is especially exciting.”
-Rachel Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)