Assessment of the Performance of Acoustic and Mass Balance Methods for Leak Detection in Pipelines for Transporting Liquids
Author(s): Martins JC (Martins, Jaqueline Costa), Seleghim P (Seleghim, Paulo, Jr.)
Univ Sao Paulo, Sch Engn Sao Carlos, BR-13566590 Sao Carlos, SP Brazil
Source: JOURNAL OF FLUIDS ENGINEERING-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME Volume: 132 Issue: 1 Article Number: 011401 Published: JAN 2010
Abstract: 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.