Author(s): Pedro J. Lee; John P. Vítkovský; Martin F. Lambert; Angus R. Simpson; James Liggett
Keywords: Leakage; frequency response; linear systems; transients; water pipelines
Abstract: Current transient-based leak detection methods for pipeline systems often rely on a good understanding of the system—including unsteady friction, pipe roughness, precise geometry and micro considerations such as minor offtakes—in the absence of leaks. Such knowledge constitutes a very high hurdle and, even if known, may be impossible to include in the mathematical equations governing system behavior.An alternative is to test the leak-free system to find precise behavior, obviously a problem if the system is not known to be free of leaks. The leak-free response can be used as a benchmark to compare with behavior of the leaking system. As an alternative, this paper uses the impulse response function (IRF) as a means of leak detection. The IRF provides a unique a relationship between an injected transient event and a measured pressure response from a pipeline. This relationship is based on the physical characteristics of the system and is useful in determining its integrity. Transient responses of completely different shapes can be directly compared using the IRF. The IRF refines all system reflections to sharp pulses, thus promoting greater accuracy in leak location, and allowing leak reflections to be detected without a leak-free benchmark, even when complex signals such as pseudo-random binary signals are injected into the system. Additionally, the IRF approach can be used to improve existing leak detection methods. In experimental tests at the University of Adelaide the IRF approach was able to detect and locate leaks accurately.