Image7_Optimally Temperature Compensated FBG-Based Sensor Dedicated to Non-Intrusive Pipe Internal Pressure Monitoring.EPS
Pipe internal pressure measurement is of utmost importance in the oil & gas industry to monitor the extraction process, and thus to prevent hydrate-plugs formation which may occur in specific temperature and pressure conditions. Traditional solutions usually rely on pressure sensors in direct contact with the fluid to monitor, therefore requiring one hole per sensor, but they also weaken the pipe structure, which may prematurely lead to significant leaks. Attempts to develop non-intrusive pressure sensors relying, for instance, on acoustic waves detection or even strain measurements (the pipe wall acting, in some way, like the membrane of a traditional intrusive sensor), are up to now not fully satisfying, mainly due to poor temperature cross-sensitivity compensation. Thus, 1 °C temperature compensation error typically leads for Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) transducers to pressure measurement biases greater than 26% at 100 bar (e.g.: Ø 4” NPS Sch. 160 steel pipe). Consequently, if such non-intrusive, but biased, solutions could possibly have been considered to monitor, for instance, a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) primary coolant circuit, it was with the risk of dramatic consequences since the fluid can reach temperatures up to 320 °C. On the other hand, the solution detailed here truly achieves to cancel the temperature cross-sensitivity, and potentially any additional effect on pressure measurement, provided that each effect has the same influence on all transducers. It first relies on a better understanding of the pipe behavior under hydrostatic pressure, supported by a dedicated model developed on purpose, which demonstrates that the internal pressure and the surface temperature variations of a closed pipe can be recovered with at least two direction-sensitive transducers, the temperature dependence of the pressure measurement being simply removed by a straightforward compensation process. This paper explains the underlying principle, thanks to a formal model established with only few hypotheses, but extended to more complex field conditions. It ends with a lab-test validation involving FBG transducers attached to a pressure circuit submitted to temperature variations greater than several tens of °C, and concludes about the advantages and limitations of this novel approach for non-intrusive sensing, and its potential extensions to other measurement techniques.