Non Contact, Remote Sensing of Buried Water Pipeline Leaks Using Infrared Thermography

by Gary J. Weil, EnTech Engineering, Inc, St. Louis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Management in the '90s: A Time for Innovation


Subsurface water pipelines, sewer and buried utilities throughout America and the rest of the world range in age from hundreds of years old to brand new. They all have, however, one fact in common: They eventually develop structural failures. Representatives in countries such as Italy and India estimate that they lose 60% to 90% of their fresh water supplies through leaks in their pipeline distribution systems. This paper describes how a non-contact, non-destructive, remote sensing technique, Computer Enhanced Infrared Thermography, may be used to detect both pipeline leaks and erosion voids caused by these leaks, while they are still small enough to be repaired inexpensively, and before they can cause catastrophic system failures. This technology may be used from mobil vehicles, helicopters or man-portable systems and is able to cover several miles or hundreds of miles of pipeline per day. This proven, but relatively unknown technology, will be described in theory, by procedure and by use of case studies based upon successful projects performed throughout the world during the last 10 years.

Subject Headings: Pipe leakage | Water leakage and water loss | Buried pipes | Water pipelines | Water supply systems | Computer vision and image processing | Thermal effects | Italy | Europe | India | Asia

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