Thermocouples have been an industry standard for temperature monitoring for nearly as long as the aerospace industry has been around. Although a robust and reliable way of measuring temperature, thermocouples require many hours of touch labor to install, create a rats nets of wires that is difficult to manage and only are able to obtain a single point of measurement for each wire. Fiber optics for temperature monitoring will allow hundreds and even thousands of thermocouple wires to be replaced by less than a handful of fiber optic sensors, providing near as accurate temperature readings, in more locations with less hassle. Northrop Grumman has investigated fiber optics for temperature monitoring mainly for out of autoclave curing of composites with fiber sensors up to 20m long (66ft). In a year of development, fiber optics sensors were able to achieve a temperature accuracy up to +/-2F, compared to a standard J-type thermocouple which has a published accuracy of +/-1.1C (2.0F). These tests were done in a lab environment and next steps will be to productionize the technology; increase robustness, temperature accuracy and reliability.
- Understand the basics of how fiber optic sensors work
- Learn how to fasten/bond fiber optic sensors to structure
- Provide insight on how fiber optic sensor technology could change the production environment
Why Is It Important?
Fiber optics for temperature monitoring could greatly reduce the amount of touch labor required to install thermocouples on large structures, increase the locations and amount of data able to be obtained from a single structure and provide 3D model heat maps of a structure which is not possible with current TC technology.