An optical apparatus for clearly viewing the interior of a containment vessel by applying a transpiration fluid to a volume directly in front of the external surface of the optical element of the optical apparatus. The fluid is provided by an external source and transported by means of an annular tube to a capped end region where the inner tube is perforated. The perforation allows the fluid to stream axially towards the center of the inner tube and then axially away from an optical element which is positioned in the inner tube just prior to the porous sleeve. This arrangement draws any contaminants away from the optical element keeping it free of contaminants. In one of several embodiments, the optical element can be a lens, a viewing port or a laser, and the external source can provide a transpiration fluid having either steady properties or time varying properties.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship of the U.S Department of Energy and the inventors as U.S. Department of Energy employees at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.