A non-invasive method of assessing the condition of pipes by measuring remaining wall thickness and predicting remaining service life using innovative acoustic technology

About

The ePulse® acoustic condition assessment technology enables utilities to learn the condition of buried pipes and plan capital investment based on ground truth data. This unique low risk technology is non-invasive and is carried out while mains are in service. No tools or sensors are inserted into the pipes, so there is no added risk of water supply interruptions or affecting water quality compliance.

The ePulse® technique accurately determines remaining wall thickness of most pipe diameters (minimum 50mm) and materials (non-plastic), making it applicable to the majority of the UK water network. The technology can cost effectively be applied at different levels/volumes to make specific asset decisions, optimise replacement/rehab strategies or to assess entire networks.

Surveys are carried out by very accurately measuring the speed of sound propagation between 2 sensors, placed on valves and hydrants. Combined with other information about the pipe and water, the remaining average wall thickness is calculated. This data and information is provided in reports and provided as a GIS layer.

Additionally, operating pressure, age of the pipe and criticality can be used alongside ePulse® remaining wall thickness to determine the remaining service life of the pipes.

Key Benefits

Understanding pipe condition can help to improve performance and address financial challenges in several key areas.

Pipe rehab/replacement can be made more effective towards the reduction of leakage and interruptions by targeting mains in the poorest condition. Mains in better condition can confidently be addressed more cost effectively and efficiently through network management techniques, including pressure control and reducing transients.

Leakage reduction objectives are also benefited by ePulse® surveys as active leaks are simultaneously detected during condition assessment projects using advanced acoustic noise correlation.

The ePulse® data can also be used to help predict future performance in areas tested or support permanent monitoring technologies in identifying locations of leaks/bursts by correlating points of interest/hotspots with condition information, supporting supply interruptions and repairs objectives.

In the UK; SES, Anglian and Severn Trent Water have all recently benefited from ePulse® surveys. SES Water have adopted a network wide condition assessment program, the data being used alongside other evidence to determine the strategic approach to asset/network management. Across the first 27 DMAs tested, ePulse® data enabled ~41% savings vs planned capital spend, which has been deferred to other areas of the network, where it can be applied more effectively.

On top of the financial return, condition assessing water networks can lead to an improvement in the following OFWAT performance commitments:
• PR19YKY_19: Improved customer service measures
• PR19YKY_21: Water supply interruptions reduced
• PR19YKY_22: Leakage reduction
• PR19YKY_23: Unplanned outages reduced
• PR19YKY_24: Mains repairs increased
• PR19YKY_6a: Carbon emissions reduced
• PR19YKY_27: Reduced frequency of significant water supply events
• PR19YKY_28: Low pressure complaints reduced
• PR19YKY_38: Reduced risk of severe drought restrictions (through improved understanding of condition of buried assets)

Applications

ePulse® technology can be applied to potable water networks, with pipe diameters from 50mm up to large trunk mains of cast iron, asbestos cement, ductile iron and steel (diameters possible to test depend on material/pressure class).

Bridging the gap between Asset Management and Network Management, ePulse® has wide reaching benefits to water utilities looking to improve spend efficiency and performance, while reducing environmental impact and improving customer service.

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