Sensors (Basel). 2022 Dec 14;22(24):9816. doi: 10.3390/s22249816.
Real-time monitoring of the liquid core position during the continuous casting of steel has been demonstrated using low-cost distributed optical-fiber-based strain sensors. These sensors were installed on the containment roll support structures in the segments of a production continuous caster to detect the position of the solid-liquid interface and monitor the strand condition during the continuous casting. Distributed Fiber Bragg Grating sensors (FBGs) were used in this work to monitor strain at six roll positions in the caster. The sensor performance was first validated by comparing optical strain measurements with conventional strain gauge measurements in the lab. Next, optical strain measurements were performed on an isolated caster segment in a segment maintenance facility using hydraulic jacks to simulate the presence of a liquid core under the roll. Finally, the sensors were evaluated during caster operation. The sensors successfully detected the load increase associated with the presence of a liquid core under each instrumented roll location. Incidents of bulging and roll eccentricity were also detected using frequency analysis of the optical strain signal. The liquid core position measurements were compared using predictions from computer models (digital twins) in use at the production site. The measurements were in good agreement with the model predictions, with a few exceptions. Under certain transient caster operating conditions, such as spraying practice changes and SEN exchanges, the model predictions deviated slightly from the liquid core position determined from strain measurements.