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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K504191/1
Title: Smart Leak Detection Pipes - 27657
Principal Investigator: Metje, Professor N
Other Investigators:
Chapman, Professor DN Anthony, Dr CJ Ward, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 July 2013 Ends: 31 July 2017 Value (£): 240,685
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project will develop an easy to install leak detection system for existing and new water pipes. Based on self-contained

sensor nodes located on the outside of the pipe the system will detect changes in pressure and vibration to indicate the

formation of leaks and their location as they occur. The innovative features of the system include the fact that internal

conditions are monitored from the outside of the pipe using sensors not used before due to their need for a power source,

which now will be supplied by a novel radioisotopic battery lasting the lifetime of the pipes themselves. These features

together develop a low cost, easy to install system which will last the lifetime of the pipes. This will allow these sensors to

be installed along the lengths of pipes such that all water distribution pipes can be monitored in real time, eliminating

location errors & the current delay in identifying leaks due to the need for the leak flow to grow to a size where it can be

identified on a district flow meter.

OFWAT estimated water losses of 3281 Ml/day in the UK in 2010 through leaking pipes. It is estimated that 32 billion cubic

metres are lost every year worldwide (World Bank 2006). This water is lost from the 'blue water cycle'. Not all leaks are

visible and the non visible leaks are initially identified through monitoring flows into discrete areas or via slow and time

consuming surveys along the lengths of pipes. This means that leaks are not identified until they have grown to sufficient

size and this 'awareness time' can amount to several weeks or even months and lead to a large amount of water being lost

before then. Whilst this time can vary, it is generally seen as considerably longer than the time taken to pinpoint and repair

leaks. Eliminating the delay will substantially reduce the water lost - in this country alone by over 1000 Ml/d (~450 Ml/day

for Severn Trent Water, STW, alone, who own ~1/8th of the network). Thus, on a worldwide basis the approach has the

potential to save considerably more than the required 1000 Ml/d. Leakage can have dramatic effects on society. In many

developing countries it is frequently the principal cause of intermittant supplies or the inability to connect more people to the pipes water network. The water has been treated and pumped with substantial embedded energy; therefore reducing

leakage also reduces energy wastage.

Leakage control is a major activity for water utilities in both the UK, where it is a regulatory requirement, and throughout the

world. New methods of identifying leaks which reduce the time taken to identify and locate leaks are needed worldwide.

There is a particular need for systems to manage leakage on plastic pipes due to their poor response to current leakage

detection techniques. This collaborative project is led by Jo Parker of Watershed Associates, who has many years

experience in leakage control and who managed the Technology Strategy Board's VISTA project to successful completion

exemplified by the take up of the research outcomes in Scotland. It includes 2 UK water companies representing the end

user and together supplying 25% of the UK population; STW and United Utilities (UU). The University of Birmingham (UoB)

will lead the research development supported by an SME specialising in developing electronic systems for the

management of leakage, GCR Tech. It also includes a utility contractor, Morrison Utility Services, (MUS) which will develop

a fast, low cost installation technology. Thus, the consortium can develop the product and market it through the

professional networks specialising in leakage management in the UK and worldwide.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk