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Engineering Materials

Robot Can Detect Gas Pipe Leaks

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: ROBOTS AND GAS LEAK DETECTION
Ann R. Thryft   8/1/2014 1:13:49 PM
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bobjengr, thanks for posting that info from the pipelines website. I didn't realize natural gas represented that large a proportion of energy sources in the US. And before I wrote this story I didn't realize how old the infrastructure was becoming, or how inadequate the leak detection technologies were.

bobjengr
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ROBOTS AND GAS LEAK DETECTION
bobjengr   7/31/2014 5:53:03 PM
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This is a critical and welcome addition to the process of leak detection. From the website "PIPELINES 101", we see the following information: 

"Natural gas supplies nearly one-fourth or 22 percent of all of the energy used in the United States. Including both onshore and offshore lines, there are approximately 300,000 miles of interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines, and 2.1 million miles of distribution pipelines. These main lines, along with the much smaller service lines that travel to homes and businesses account for the vast majority of the nation's 2.4-million- mile underground pipeline system." 

Many of the pipelines as you say in your post are old and definite issues relative to leakage are happening every year.  The process of detection is extremely time-consuming.  Any improvement is certainly welcomed.  Excellent post Ann. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: immense applications
Ann R. Thryft   7/28/2014 2:42:55 PM
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AnandY, I and several other commenters wish we'd been given more details on the hardware design, including batteries. I don't think a scale-down of something this size would make much sense at the micro- or nano-scales. Other techs more appropriate to those scales are already in the works.

AnandY
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Re: immense applications
AnandY   7/28/2014 10:41:54 AM
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After going through this article, it is easy to see how these robots could have diverse and far reaching applications if they prove to be effective and efficient in the detection of gas leaks. I will not go as far as to suggest their usage in modern medicine especially the arteries and the like considering the small diameters of these channels and the engineering challenges that the miniaturization of these robots may entail but I can see many other areas where it can be adapted and used without half as much difficulty.

AnandY
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Re: Detection of Small, Low Pressure Leaks
AnandY   7/28/2014 10:41:17 AM
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Very interesting article and it's about time the detection of the leaks in gas pipes was automated. The pipes in my neighborhood are a good example of a disaster waiting to happen although the authorities here would never admit that unless their lives depended on it. It's unfortunate though that this article does not make any mention of the batteries that will be powering these bots especially in terms of the battery life. Maybe you could give us details of that.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good concept but other leaks are bigger problems.
Ann R. Thryft   7/22/2014 3:23:01 PM
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Cabe, can you clarify your question? What kind of blockage and what problem do you think that causes?

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Good concept but other leaks are bigger problems.
Cabe Atwell   7/22/2014 3:06:30 PM
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The bot itself does cause some level of blockage... I wonder how that will be handled...

C

William K.
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Re: Great idea
William K.   7/22/2014 12:43:51 PM
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The most common gas leak detection system is the human nose, simply because there are so many of them around. Not the most sensitive, but the most common. That is the benefit of moving more of the system outside, which is that leaks are detected befor a gas buildup leads to an explosin.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good concept but other leaks are bigger problems.
Ann R. Thryft   7/21/2014 6:25:02 PM
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William, good point about vulnerabilities in other parts of the gas pipeline system. San Francisco has experienced occasional problems like the ones you describe, usually by utility workers, who you'd think would know better.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Great idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/21/2014 6:24:25 PM
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We mentioned several leak detection methods currently used today: visual inspection via cameras, acoustic sensors, hydrostatic or liquid natural gas testing, and aerial patrols.



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