When people think of fiber optic cables, they most likely think of their role in the transmission of telecommunication data, carrying light pulses over great distances at the highest possible speed. And yet, thanks to the unique characteristics of light itself, they also serve a very different purpose: detecting minute temperature changes along the length of a heated sulphur or crude oil pipeline. What is the biggest difference between fiber optic and traditional sensors used in this field, and what are the advantages? Find out in this article.
Traditional sensors include mechanical devices such as thermostats and electronic sensors such as thermocouples, thermistors and resistance temperature detectors (RTDs). While these devices are all different in terms of the technology used, they all have one thing in common: they are point-sensing devices. They can only sense the temperature at the discrete location where they are installed. With mechanical sensors placed at individual points along the pipeline, the pipeline temperature is only known at those discrete points. It is not cost effective to place many sensors on the pipe, so cold or hot spots may exist that are not detected using point sensors.