Smart Fibres' marine activities commenced with composite monitoring of performance racing yachts. In the commercial marine sector, the Company's products have found several other application areas.
Using certain key optical fibre sensing system attributes, the Company has identified and developed a market in hull stress monitoring, wherein a single instrument in the wheelhouse can monitor and array of sensors over the vessel that measure multi-point hull and deck loads, acceleration and bow wave slamming pressures. Our first commercial installation of such a system on an arctic shuttle tanker, pictured fully exploited the technology's multiplexing capability and involved dynamic monitoring of approaching 200 SmartWeld sensors across the hull structure.
Optical fibre sensing benefits are of particular relevance to the LNG shipping market, where intrinsic safety requirements are paramount, and where operating temperatures are extraordinarily low. Under a collaborative project, Smart Fibres has advanced the development of a capability to monitor the sloshing loads of the inside of an LNG carrier's tanks during transit so as to monitor their structural integrity.
The nuclear industry brings with it numerous applications for monitoring to optimise processes and ensure safety. Such applications include pressure monitoring in steam pipes, Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of reactor containment, SHM of steam generators and temperature monitoring of nuclear, waste.
Fibre optic sensing offers the potential to address certain of these market needs through its elevated temperature capability, long-term stability and radiation hardness. Through the collaborative project Hoban, Smart Fibres is working with industry leaders to commercialise the use of our technology within this sector.
The civil engineering and infrastructure industry is one of the largest users of optical fibre sensing systems, exploiting the complexity and cost reduction of using a multiplexed optical fibre sensing system on a large structure requiring multiple measurands.
In its early days, Smart Fibres made a business of exploiting these capabilities, deploying systems on bridges, tunnels, roadways, buildings and ancient monuments across the globe (yes, even the Acropolis). This has been achieved with the help of a network of partners providing local logistics and support to our international customers.
Today, we continue to support the application with the supply of standard products direct to end users and through our partner network.
The rail sector also has numerous applications for sensing, yet is a harsh environment for electronic instrumentation due to extremes of vibration, high power conductors and severe electromagnetic interference.
Smart Fibres continues to support solutions developers in this industry with its technology. Existing and future applications of Smart Fibres' technology include:
The medical industry provides many challenging instrumentation requirements to which optical fibre sensing lends itself well.
One such challenge, is the need to take measurements inside the body of a patient during surgical procedures where space is a premium, as often a miniature fibre sensor is as large an intrusion as can be accepted. Smart fibres are helping developers in the medical industry to exploit the key benefits of optical fibre sensing in their highly demanding application areas.
This emerging and key renewable energy industry involves the conversion of the energy from marine currents into electricity. This industry shares with wind energy the need for the monitoring of blade loads to improve performance, maximise availability, and increase service life.
In certain waters, legislation demands that tidal turbine operators monitor the loading on their blades to determine the severity and frequency of impacts with marine life. With a blade loads system already installed for condition monitoring, such marine impact monitoring is available at no additional instrumentation expense.
Smart Fibres' optical blade load monitoring system, developed for wind energy rotorblades, is perfectly suited to the requirements of this sector. We have a strong track record in this industry, having helped several developers with their prototype and pilot machine monitoring projects.
Motor racing vehicles are highly instrumented, providing the vehicle designers and race engineers constant information to improve the design and optimise the set-up of their vehicles to gain vital time advantage. As is the case in the aerospace industry, the motor racing industry has recognised the ability of FBG sensing to take multiple measurement in harsh environments with a low mass system, and the ability to measure internal loads in structural composites.
Smart Fibres' references clients in this sector include a renowned Moto GP motorcycle race team and a world champion Formula 1 constructor.