What would you use to try and find an underground water leak, your ears or radar? Believe it or not the only way to find water leaks involves trying to hear the hiss of the leak through a device like a stethoscope. This antiquated system could soon be a thing of the past as a fast and full-proof method using radar is being developed thanks to an investment of £76,810 from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts), the organisation that invests in UK creativity and innovation.
The StesT Leak Radar is the brainchild of Dr Mark Harper, who has 30 years’ experience in applied physics and geophysics. Cambridge company STesT (Structural Testing Technology) Ltd also includes Dr Martin Thompson, an engineer who has worked in the mining and energy industries since 1975, and John Sheppard, a mechanical engineer with 20 years’ experience.
The present method of finding leaks in water mains involves looking at suspected damage areas at night and narrowing down an area through acoustic detection of the hiss produced by the leak. It is finally pinpointed using the listening sticks – lengths of rod that act as stethoscopes. This final step is time consuming and error prone, with other noises often hindering the discovery of any leaks. It can easily be misled by hissing noises arising from valves, ferrules, and other obstacles to water flow.
Joseph Meaney | alfa
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