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Using Fiber Optics To Fight Water Wastage

Researchers from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering pioneered the use of distributed fiber optic sensing (DFOS) based on Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) technology for monitoring water pipeline networks over long distances. At the heart of this technology is the common and inexpensive optical fiber used for telecommunications (which brings the internet into our homes) capable of measuring deformations to a hundredth of a millimeter.

Politecnico di Milano experimenting with fibre optics against water wastage
Virtual schematic of the sensor layout adopted. Credit: Politecnico di Milano

The experiment consisted of two phases. “In the first one,” the researchers explain, “we assessed the sensitivity of the sensor layout on an HDPE pipe stressed with static pressure. This first stage was successful, so we then concentrated on detecting the pressure anomaly produced by a leak in a piping circuit with flowing water. Overall, the results returned positive feedback on the use of DFOS, confirming the possibility of identifying and localizing even very small water leaks.”

In the future, the tested technology will be further developed towards industrial-scale production of ‘natively smart’ HDPE pipes, where DFOS are integrated into the pipe surface during the extrusion process.

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The use of fiber optics in water management is a promising solution to the problem of water wastage. By detecting and preventing leakages in water supply systems, fiber optics can help in conserving water and reducing financial losses for water utilities. As the technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see more widespread adoption of fiber optics in water management in the future.

Source: Techxplore

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