High precision remote measurement of the purity of a fluid by interferometric refractometry

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Computer generated interference pattern
Computer generated interference pattern

University: University of Aberdeen

Sector(s): Energy & Renewables, Chemical, Electronics, Sensors & Photonics, Engineering & Manufacturing, Food & Drink, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

About Opportunity:

Determination of the purity of a fluid is very important in various industries, as for example oil & gas. Here, the presence of water in oil and gas pipelines leads to the formation of hydrates with hydrocarbons in the pipeline, which can build up and cause blockages. To remove this well-known problem, a water-absorbent fluid, typically monoethylene glycol (MEG), is sent through the pipeline between blockages ("pigs") to form a chain of multiple distinct volumes of water absorbent material. The purity of these volumes indicates the amount of water remaining in the pipeline.

Academics in the University of Aberdeen have developed a device to measure the purity of any fluid with high precision that can be deployed for remote monitoring, removing the need for costly, time consuming sampling and laboratory analysis. Purity is derived from the interference pattern of two beams of light that traverse a MEG sample technique. The fringe spacing of the pattern can be correlated with the refractive index of the fluid sample, which in turn provides a measurement of the fluid purity.

The angular separation of the chamber walls and the reflector can be varied to adjust the refractometer to the characteristics of the fluid and fully exploit the high precision measurement capabilities of the device. Once configured, the components remain static, providing a robust measurement device.

The refractometer can be deployed subsea with the appropriate pressure housing.

Key Benefits:

  • reduced cost of purity determination
  • remote deployment
  • various fields of application


  • oil & gas
  • food & drink industry

IP Status:

UK priority patent application filed


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