All Optical Tank Level Indicator System
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-185
Topic Title: All Optical Tank Level Indicator System
Proposal No.: N082-185-0242
Firm: Physical Sciences Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, Massachusetts 01810-1077
Contact: William Kessler
Phone: (978) 689-0003
Web Site:
Abstract: This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will combine optically-based measurements of pressure and the mature fiber optic networking technology used by the telecommunication and cable television industries to design and demonstrate an innovative All Optical Tank Level Indicator (TLI) System for VIRGINIA Class submarines and Navy fleet applications. Current TLI systems on submarines are expensive and time consuming to install and maintain due to their complicated design, large number of inventoried parts and their susceptibility to failure in the extreme and varied environments encountered within submarine tanks. PSI will evaluate two distinct optical pressure measurement techniques that may be coupled to a remotely located, ultra-sensitive, commercially available sensor control unit. The pressure measurements will be combined with tank engineering design data to determine the tank liquid level. One technique will be selected to for a distributed sensor system design that will be fabricated and tested during the Phase II program. The proposed innovative TLI system will be applicable to all tank sizes and geometries, reducing required part inventories and providing a robust, universal measurement solution. The proposed effort leverages PSI's extensive and successful experience developing and delivering optically based sensor solutions for commercial and Navy Mil-Spec applications.
Benefits: The proposed research will provide the Navy with a distributed tank level indicator system for VIRGINIA Class submarines. The successful completion of the TLI development program will also provide tank level measurement solutions for surface marine craft, in particular those with tank measurement applications that prohibit the use of electrically activated sensors such as those containing flammable or explosive gases and liquids. This will include both military and commercial ships. PSI has also identified a commercial measurement need for non-intrusive, optically based pressure measurements in the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, the sensor control unit (electronics and laser) could be used for other military and commercial applications such as the optimization of turbine and internal combustion engine prime power units aboard ships and other military platforms. Thus, this SBIR will provide benefits to both government and commercial sectors of the US economy.