New research helps ID weak water mains before they burst

Oct 02, 2013 by Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation
New research helps ID weak water mains before they burst
A split pipe underground. Only a small minority of critical urban pipes are currently inspected, due to the high costs involved. Credit: Sydney Water

Only a small minority of Australia's critical urban water pipes are currently inspected due to the high costs involved, and it can be hard for authorities to know which pipes to prioritise for costly check ups and renewals.

Now researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Monash University and the University of Newcastle are trialing advanced techniques to assess the state of the underground pipes, preempting potential breaks before they happen.

The $16 million project, officially called the Advanced Condition Assessment Pipe Failure Prediction Project and dubbed Critical Pipes, is due to be completed in 2016.

In collaboration with Sydney Water, UTS researchers are analysing data collected from pipe inspection tools, including electromagnetic and acoustic sensors, in a one kilometre stretch of water pipe at Strathfield in Sydney's Inner West.

The aim is to remove the guesswork from critical pipe inspection.

Among the inspection tools on trial is a submerged sensor that is released on one end of the pipe and collects data as it moves through the water, before being picked up at the other end.

Other data on wall thickness and defects is collected by external sensors that are applied to the outside wall of the pipe once a small section is exposed for inspection.

"The internal tools generate an electromagnetic field or an acoustic signal that allows us to estimate the thickness of the pipe wall, and the presence of defects, as it moves from one end to the other," said Professor Gamini Dissanayake, director of the UTS Centre for Autonomous Systems and a member of the Critical Pipes research team.

"What the utility companies want to do is prevent disruption, so people don't get pools of outside their places. They obviously also want to minimise the expense they incur in replacing pipes, so they only do that when it needs to be done," said Dr Jaime Valls Miro, an Associate Professor at the UTS Centre for Autonomous Systems and a member of the research team.

Monash University is providing an analysis of internal and external factors and stresses affecting the pipe network and the different material types and locations within the system.

The University of Newcastle is analysing the deterioration rates of the pipes within the network, focusing on why and how corrosion and leaching occurs.

Sydney Water has provided over $5m toward the project, as well as access to a buried one kilometre, 600mm diameter test pipe at Strathfield.

"We're using that to gather data and to understand whether our models are working," said Associate Professor Valls Miro.

"This is a five year project. We're only two years into it but we feel we are on the right track."

Explore further: First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Robot inspects pipes in petrochemical platforms

Sep 19, 2013

With the purpose of verifying onshore and offshore platforms such as Pemex's and detect cracks or corrosion, the Mexican Corporation of Material Research (COMIMSA) designed RoboPipe, a robot capable of inspecting ...

Robotic system to inspect underground pipes

Aug 17, 2012

EU-funded researchers developed a high-tech robotic imaging system for inspecting underground pipes. Commercialisation should facilitate use of corrosion-resistant materials for transport of hazardous chemicals.

Drinking water from plastic pipes - is it harmful?

Nov 08, 2011

Pipe-in-pipe systems are now commonly used to distribute water in many homes. The inner pipe for drinking water is made of a plastic called cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). Are these pipes harmful to health and do they affect ...

Radar exposing water leaks

Aug 09, 2013

A wide range of technologies deal with water leaks. But the most recent innovative solutions aim to be far more effective than any other prior technologies.

Bacteria involved in sewer pipe corrosion identified

Oct 23, 2012

Microbes corrode sewer pipes from the inside, a process that can lead to spills, bad odors, disease outbreaks, and the need for costly repairs. In a first step towards reducing the corrosion, researchers have identified the ...

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

13 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

20 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

21 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

21 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

23 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.