Fiber optics in the plant
Exchanging copper wires for optical fiber cables is a growing trend in the telecommunications area. One novelty is using fibers for remote monitoring of equipment in hydroelectric power stations. “We use light [lasers] to measure the temperature of the generators in the Samuel Hydroelectric Power Station in Rondônia,” says Professor Marcelo Werneck, from the Electrical Engineering Program at the Graduate School of Research and Engineering (Coppe) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), who coordinated the project. He explains that printed sensors are placed in the core of the fiber to carry out the measuring. The advantage of these devices is that they are insulating – they do not conduct electricity like copper wires – and therefore they are immune to the electricity field around generators and other plant equipment. Additionally, one fiber substitutes several copper wires. “The next step, in a project with Petrobras, is to use fibers with sensors to measure gases in the exploration of oil at the bottom of the pre-salt layer, where it is impossible to use an electrical current because of the risk of explosions,” says Werneck.