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Researcher creates software that locates real-time leaks in water, oil or gas pipes

Date:
April 10, 2015
Source:
Investigación y Desarrollo
Summary:
Through the laws of physics and application of a mathematical model of fluid mechanics, a new software calculates when an irregularity occurs on site of a gas, oil or water pipe. The software is called VIVIUNAM and performs logical deductions in real time, allowing to identify the type of failure and get to the root of the problem, thus avoiding a waste of time, by digging or manually searching for the problem throughout the pipeline, said the researcher.
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Often, water, gas or oil distribution networks present leaks in storage tanks, pumping failures or illegal connections exist.
Credit: Image courtesy of Investigación y Desarrollo

Through the laws of physics and application of a mathematical model of fluid mechanics, it calculates when an irregularity occurs on site

Often, water, gas or oil distribution networks present leaks in storage tanks, pumping failures or illegal connections exist. In order to avoid economic losses due to these causes, Cristina Verde Rodarte, researcher at the Institute of Engineering, of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), designed a virtual guard that immediately detects abnormalities in any type of duct.

The software is called VIVIUNAM and performs logical deductions in real time, allowing to identify the type of failure and get to the root of the problem, thus avoiding a waste of time, by digging or manually searching for the problem throughout the pipeline, said the researcher, who is also member of the Academy of Engineering.

The virtual vigilante works with an algorithm, which by the laws of physics and the application of a mathematical model of fluid mechanics, calculates a series of data indicating what is the behavior of gas, water or oil pipelines in normal operating conditions. These, in turn, are compared with the record of pressure measurements within the pipe and the difference between these measurements indicate the presence of leakage.

When the results from the mathematical model do not match the automatically recorded measurements an error or an abnormal event is happening, and different scenarios are sought; for example, the pressure sensor may be disconnected, a leak is present, an illegal connection or a disturbance that alters the behavior of fluids within the pipeline.

PhD in Electrical Engineering by the University of Duisburg in Germany, Verde Rodarte, said that the chemical and oil industries, and general processes involving fluid transport systems should have automatic, safe and efficient monitoring in order to avoid accidents with highly volatile fluids or pollutants that cause a great impact on the environment, damage society and the economy. Therefore, her proposal is to place the VIVIUNAM system in control distribution networks to report the presence of disturbances and implementing adequate contingency plans.

In various networks, such as the Cutzamala system, pumping plant Xotepingo (Mexico City) or distribution networks Pemex (Mexican Oil) pipelines have pressure and fluid gauges, however, the data is only used for administrative purposes, instead of take advantage of them to look for leaks and correct the problem, said Cristina Verde.

The experimental work where leakage was emulated in a pilot pipeline of 200 meters of longitude with a diameter of 10.4 inches, was instrumented with pressure and expense sensors. VIVIUNAM was automatically operated from a laptop and effectiveness of the algorithms developed by scholars of II-UNAM was proved.

The technology used to diagnose leakage is based on mass balances, measuring expense, pressure and temperature at the ends of a pipeline without laterals. Calibration for each model is performed according to the topology and physical properties of the fluid and duct in question. This technique is economical because it does not require additional sensors to those already available in distribution pipelines, the software only requires data from the distribution network for the algorithm to work, finished the university academic.


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Investigación y Desarrollo. "Researcher creates software that locates real-time leaks in water, oil or gas pipes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150410113410.htm>.
Investigación y Desarrollo. (2015, April 10). Researcher creates software that locates real-time leaks in water, oil or gas pipes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150410113410.htm
Investigación y Desarrollo. "Researcher creates software that locates real-time leaks in water, oil or gas pipes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150410113410.htm (accessed May 8, 2017).