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 Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

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: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>