Research Papers: Techniques and Procedures

Assessment of the Performance of Acoustic and Mass Balance Methods for Leak Detection in Pipelines for Transporting Liquids

[+] Author and Article Information
Jaqueline Costa Martins

School of Engineering of São Carlos, University of São Paulo,Av. Trabalhador São-Carlense, 400, 13566-590 São Carlos, SP, Brazil

Paulo Seleghim1

School of Engineering of São Carlos, University of São Paulo,Av. Trabalhador São-Carlense, 400, 13566-590 São Carlos, SP, Brazilseleghim@sc.usp.br


Corresponding author.

J. Fluids Eng 132(1), 011401 (Jan 12, 2010) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000736 History: Received September 15, 2008; Revised November 16, 2009; Published January 12, 2010; Online January 12, 2010

On-line leak detection is a main concern for the safe operation of pipelines. Acoustic and mass balance are the most important and extensively applied technologies in field problems. The objective of this work is to compare these leak detection methods with respect to a given reference situation, i.e., the same pipeline and monitoring signals acquired at the inlet and outlet ends. Experimental tests were conducted in a 749 m long laboratory pipeline transporting water as the working fluid. The instrumentation included pressure transducers and electromagnetic flowmeters. Leaks were simulated by opening solenoid valves placed at known positions and previously calibrated to produce known average leak flow rates. Results have clearly shown the limitations and advantages of each method. It is also quite clear that acoustics and mass balance technologies are, in fact, complementary. In general, an acoustic leak detection system sends out an alarm more rapidly and locates the leak more precisely, provided that the rupture of the pipeline occurs abruptly enough. On the other hand, a mass balance leak detection method is capable of quantifying the leak flow rate very accurately and of detecting progressive leaks.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Characteristic pressure waveforms during a simulated leak test

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Figure 2

Characteristic mass balance error signal according to Eq. 9 during a simulated leak test

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Figure 3

Schematic representation of the experimental loop at the Industrial Multiphase Flow laboratory

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Figure 4

Pressure and flow rate signals obtained during one experimental cycle (pumping power at 30% and operating valve number 3, as indicated by the vertical lines)

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Figure 5

Detection delay obtained in all tests for the acoustic: (a) and mass balance and (b) LDS’s

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Figure 6

Leak localization error histograms (◼: mass balance, ◻: acoustic)

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Figure 7

Leak flow rate error histograms (◼: mass balance, ◻: acoustic)



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