Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCI engineers watch over the water system

20.08.2009
New sensors are designed to monitor pipes after earthquakes and other disasters

After a big earthquake, it's key to keep the water system afloat. Water is necessary for life, and it fights the fires that often accompany such disasters.

UC Irvine engineers plan to outfit the local water system with sensors that will alert officials when and where pipes crack or break, hastening repair - thanks to nearly $5.7 million over three years from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and several local water groups.

"When an earthquake occurs and infrastructure systems fail, continued service of the water network is most critical," said Masanobu Shinozuka, lead project investigator and civil & environmental engineering chair. "Before anything happens, I'd like to have a pipe monitoring system in place to let us know when and where damage occurs. It could minimize misery and save lives."

About 240,000 water-main breaks occur per year in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, in December a burst sent about 150,000 gallons of water per minute onto a busy Maryland road, stranding motorists in the icy deluge. Water system failures are estimated to waste up to 6 billion gallons of drinking water every day.

Shinozuka and Pai Chou, electrical engineering & computer science associate professor, have created CD-sized sensing devices that attach to the surface of pressurized (drinking water) and nonpressurized (wastewater) pipes. They will detect vibration and sound changes that could indicate pipe problems. Through antennae, the sensors will relay information wirelessly over long distances to a central location for recording, processing and diagnostic analysis.

Initially, the sensor network will cover about one square mile of the local water system; eventually, it could encompass more than 10 square miles - the largest of its kind to date. A small-scale pressurized water pipe network designed and built by UCI researchers has confirmed that this type of damage identification works well.

The research team now is designing a system that functions underground as well as over a larger area. The main hurdles, Shinozuka said, are powering the sensors (batteries and solar energy are not strong enough), making them more cost-effective and robust in tough environments, and achieving long-range wireless communication efficiently and accurately.

Using existing pipe networks, the team will then test and calibrate the sensors by simulating and monitoring pressure changes equivalent to those arising from actual pipe damage. The sensors will complement an existing monitoring system called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.

"SCADA sensors are too sparsely placed for identifying damage with the kind of precision we desire when a large earthquake or other natural hazard affects many locations," Shinozuka said.

"An isolated malfunction is far different from a situation in which pipes break all over the place," he said. "Our next-generation system will inform us as soon as possible when and where damage occurs and to what extent so we can better mitigate the consequences."

As the research progresses, the team plans to develop methods of rapidly repairing pipe damage at joints and other vulnerable locations.

Collaborating with UCI on the endeavor are Fountain Valley-based Earth Mechanics Inc., the Irvine Ranch Water District, the Orange County Sanitation District and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,200 staff. The top employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit http://today.uci.edu/.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

Jennifer Fitzenberger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>