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Fiber Optic Sensing for Energy Infrastructure Monitoring Applications

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Friday, September 23, 2022, 10 am– 11 am

This is a past event.

Chemical Engineering Research Seminar

Dr. Paul Ohodnicki, Jr.

Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
University of Pittsburgh


Fiber optic sensing is emerging as an attractive technology platform for a broad range of energy infrastructure monitoring applications. Distributed sensing modalities are of interest for structural health monitoring of pipelines as well as electricity transmission and distribution lines. Low cost point and quasi-distributed sensing modalities are of interest for electrical asset health monitoring including transformers, energy storage, and distributed energy resources (PV, wind, etc.). In this presentation, we will discuss two primary classes of optical fiber sensor technologies currently under investigation within the Ohodnicki Lab at the University of Pittsburgh.

In the first class, we will discuss the combination of physics-based modeling, artificial intelligence (AI), ultrasonic guided wave non-destructive evaluation (NDE), and distributed / quasi-distributed acoustic sensing for structural health monitoring of pipelines. We will present recent results for AI-based classification framework development to identify and localize various defect types within pipelines through active interrogation with ultrasonic guided waves and high bandwidth acoustic sensing modalities. In the second class, we will present the integration of engineered functional sensing materials with low-cost optical fiber sensing devices to enable simplification and cost-reduction while retaining adequate sensing capability. Through these innovations, we will discuss applications for distribution system electrical assets such as distribution transformers. Future research activities and opportunities for high impact optical fiber sensing technology innovation will also be highlighted.


Paul R. Ohodnicki Jr. is currently an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science department at the University of Pittsburgh and the Engineering Science program director. He is also the founding director of the Advanced Magnetics for Power and Energy Development (AMPED) consortium, a university – industry – government collaborative partnership focused on educating next generation workforce at the intersection between new soft magnetic materials, device applications, and system level for renewable integration and vehicle electrification. Most recently, he has established a new initiative focused on infrastructure sensing, the University of Pittsburgh Infrastructure Sensing Collaboration (UPISC).

In addition, he serves as the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of CorePower Magnetics, an early-stage startup seeking to commercialize a portfolio of intellectual property developed during his time as an employee at the US Department of Energy. Prior to his current roles, he was a materials scientist and technical portfolio lead in the Functional Materials Team of the Materials Engineering & Manufacturing Directorate of the National Energy Technology Laboratory. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 with a BPhil in engineering physics and a BA in economics and subsequently earned his MS (2006) and PhD (2008) in materials science and engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Ohodnicki has published more than 150 technical publications and holds more than 15 patents, with more than 30 additional patents under review. He also is the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions, including the Federal Employee Rookie of the Year Award (2012), Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (2016), and the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Innovation Category Award for the Carnegie Science Center (2012, 2017, 2019). In 2017, he was a nominee for the Samuel J. Heyman service to America Medal.

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