Water content detection in aviation fuel by using PMMA based optical fiber grating

Wei Zhang, David J. Webb, Liyun Lao, David Hammond, Mark Carpenter, Colleen Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water in aviation fuel is a destructive contaminant and can cause serious problems that compromise aircraft’s safe operation and reduce its efficiency and lifetime. Online monitoring of water content in aviation fuel would permit the control of water content before it builds up to dangerous level. Optical fibers made of PMMA have water affinity. In a PMMA based optical fiber Bragg grating (POFBG) its refractive index and volume vary with the water content. This feature is used to detect tiny water content in aviation fuel in this work. The sensing mechanism of POFBG is analyzed. POFBG wavelength is found to be the function of both temperature and equilibrium relative humidity (ERH). POFBG response to water content in fuel can be determined by the ERH. The sensor is experimented at different environmental conditions to identify its sensitivity. As a result, a general expression of POFBG response is achieved. Water content in Jet-A1 is measured by using POFBG sensor calibrated with both environmental chamber and coulometric titration. POFBG sensor is finally tested in a simulation fuel tank, demonstrating a better performance than coulometric titration. A sensitivity of POFBG wavelength change to water content of 33 pm/ppm is achieved at room temperature, indicating detectable water content of 0.03 ppm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-779
Number of pages6
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Coulometric titration
  • Equilibrium relative humidity
  • Fiber Bragg gratings
  • Polymer optical fiber
  • Water in fuel


Dive into the research topics of 'Water content detection in aviation fuel by using PMMA based optical fiber grating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this