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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Keywords Pipelines, Polytechnic, Rensselaer, Sensors
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New Jersey, is patenting technology that can listen to pipelines and storage tanks and issue a warning in case of leaks, explosions, or hard hits that might cause damage. In the new patents, Dr Michael Savic extends an earlier patent for a system that can monitor underground pipelines for leaks.
The latest system for monitoring either liquids or gases has been successfully tested on both high-pressure underground lines as well as low-pressure above ground pipelines in Texas. Texaco financed much of the development work.
Conventional detection systems rely on methods such as volume balance comparison or detection of the leaking fluid. They can only detect relatively large leaks and may allow a potentially dangerous situation to develop without detection, says Savic. In this system, listening devices can hear a change in features of the signal coming from within the vessel if there is a leak. This information is analysed by a central processor. The system ignores irrelevant noises such as passing aircraft. Warnings include the location of the outage, so crews can be sent directly to the site.