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Optimal selection of acoustic leak detection techniques for water pipelines using multi-criteria decision analysis

Sepideh Yazdekhasti (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Kalyan Ram Piratla (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
John C. Matthews (Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, USA)
Abdul Khan (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Sez Atamturktur (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 12 March 2018

402

Abstract

Purpose

There has been a sustained interest over the past couple of decades in developing sophisticated leak detection techniques (LDTs) that are economical and reliable. Majority of current commercial LDTs are acoustics based and they are not equally suitable to all pipe materials and sizes. There is also limited knowledge on the comparative merits of such acoustics-based leak detection techniques (ALDTs). The purpose of this paper is to review six commercial ALDTs based on four decisive criteria and subsequently develop guidance for the optimal selection of an ALDT.

Design/methodology/approach

Numerous publications and field demonstration reports are reviewed for evaluating the performance of various ALDTs in this study to inform their optimal selection using an integrated multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework. The findings are validated using interviews of water utility experts.

Findings

The study approach and the findings will have a broad impact on the water utility industry by identifying a suite of suitable ALDTs for a range of typical application scenarios. The evaluated ALDTs include listening devices, noise loggers, leak-noise correlators, free-swimming acoustic, tethered acoustic, and acoustic emissions. The evaluation criteria include cost, reliability, access requirements, and the ability to quantify leakage severity. The guidance presented in this paper will support efficient decision making in water utility management to minimize pipeline leakage.

Originality/value

This study attempts to address the problem of severe dearth of performance data for pipeline inspection techniques. Performance data reported in the published literature on various ALDTs are appropriately aggregated and compared using a MCDA, while the uncertainty in performance data is addressed using the Monte Carlo simulation approach.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was partly supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 1539536. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the US Government. The support of the NSF is greatly appreciated.

Citation

Yazdekhasti, S., Piratla, K.R., Matthews, J.C., Khan, A. and Atamturktur, S. (2018), "Optimal selection of acoustic leak detection techniques for water pipelines using multi-criteria decision analysis", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 255-277. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEQ-05-2017-0043

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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