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Novel communication system for buried water pipe monitoring using acoustic signal propagation along the pipe

Omotayo Farai (School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Nicole Metje (School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Carl Anthony (School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Ali Sadeghioon (School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
David Chapman (School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications

ISSN: 1742-7371

Article publication date: 6 October 2023

Issue publication date: 20 March 2024

74

Abstract

Purpose

Wireless sensor networks (WSN), as a solution for buried water pipe monitoring, face a new set of challenges compared to traditional application for above-ground infrastructure monitoring. One of the main challenges for underground WSN deployment is the limited range (less than 3 m) at which reliable wireless underground communication can be achieved using radio signal propagation through the soil. To overcome this challenge, the purpose of this paper is to investigate a new approach for wireless underground communication using acoustic signal propagation along a buried water pipe.

Design/methodology/approach

An acoustic communication system was developed based on the requirements of low cost (tens of pounds at most), low power supply capacity (in the order of 1 W-h) and miniature (centimetre scale) size for a wireless communication node. The developed system was further tested along a buried steel pipe in poorly graded SAND and a buried medium density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe in well graded SAND.

Findings

With predicted acoustic attenuation of 1.3 dB/m and 2.1 dB/m along the buried steel and MDPE pipes, respectively, reliable acoustic communication is possible up to 17 m for the buried steel pipe and 11 m for the buried MDPE pipe.

Research limitations/implications

Although an important first step, more research is needed to validate the acoustic communication system along a wider water distribution pipe network.

Originality/value

This paper shows the possibility of achieving reliable wireless underground communication along a buried water pipe (especially non-metallic material ones) using low-frequency acoustic propagation along the pipe wall.

Keywords

Citation

Farai, O., Metje, N., Anthony, C., Sadeghioon, A. and Chapman, D. (2024), "Novel communication system for buried water pipe monitoring using acoustic signal propagation along the pipe", International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 262-284. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPCC-05-2022-0179

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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