Evaluation of Fiber Optic Technology for Use on Reclamation Critical Infrastructure

Project ID: 21096
Principal Investigator: John Germann
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2021 and 2022
Keywords: None

Research Question

Fiber optic sensing works by measuring changes in the "backscattering" of light occurring in an optical fiber when the fiber encounters vibration, strain or temperature change. Fiber optic sensing is an exciting science that over the last 30 years has developed into a viable technology with tremendous potential and wide-spread applications for use in the monitoring of critical infrastructure. Fiber optic sensing is successfully being deployed around the world to smart monitor various infrastructure. This technology has become the backbone of the telecommunication industry, defense/government, medical, data storage, and other industrial/commercial industries. There are many applications for fiber optic-based technologies, and their uses are only growing, yet Reclamation has never applied this technology beyond basic telecommunication.
This project will investigate the feasibility and potential use of fiber optic sensing for Reclamation applications with the goal of identifying specific applications for potential future Reclamation research and implementation.

Need and Benefit

It would greatly help Reclamation and its federal counterparts to have the ability to reliably instrument and monitor critical infrastructure for system performance issues; whether it be to detect internal erosion in an earthen dam, a pipeline leak or penstock rupture, a canal or levee breach or an unauthorized third-party intrusion. Real time monitoring would allow for quick assessment of changing performance issues early in the process and lead to immediate follow-up intervention. If this can be achieved through improved monitoring of these critical assets, then risk is reduced, and safety and reliability are increased. This ultimately leads to lower operation and maintenance cost.Reclamation currently does not have a practical means to instrument and monitor in real time an entire embankment dam or miles of pipeline or canal bank.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20