WorldWide Drilling Resource

36 JANUARY 2022 12 Months Prepay $1098 Total = 12 Ads! Avoiding Catastrophic Water Pipeline Failures with PipeDiver® Compiled the Editorial Staff of WorldWide Drilling Resource® Over time, water pipelines can deteriorate, leading to leaks and ruptures. Sources of stress from inside and outside the pipe can contribute to a declining condition. These sources include soil type, how the soil interacts with the pipe, age, pipe material, and how the pipe was constructed. With the possibility of widespread damage and service disruptions for customers, utilities need a way to diagnose and prevent pipeline failures. Many water pipelines are buried several feet underground and are far too small to safely walk through. Getting into these pipes to perform inspections is sometimes not so easy. How, then, can these inspections for structural weaknesses be carried out safely and efficiently? One answer is Xylem/Pure Technologies’ high-tech PipeDiver®, a long-distance, free-swimming condition assessment tool, which operates while the pipeline remains in service. Reducing cost and effort, the device deploys through existing pipeline access points. The flexible, articulated sections of PipeDiver allow it to bend around sharp turns and travel through a variety of pipe configurations, including butterfly valves and sharp bends and tees. A special nose on the front helps guide it through valves inside the pipeline. About 24 flexible, flower-like plastic petals stick out of each section to keep the device centered in the pipe as it moves along. It does not have a motor and simply uses the flow of the water to move through the pipe. The water pushes the robot forward at about two feet per second, or about 90% of the water flow velocity, thanks to the machine’s fins and a circular plastic sail. The fins keep the device aligned and prevent the water from smashing the robot into the pipe. It is also equipped with a lighting array, three highdefinition cameras to capture images, and GPS technology so crews can keep track of it as it floats through the pipe. PipeDiver collects comprehensive data on the condition of the internal pipe wall. For PCCP (prestressed concrete cylinder pipe), it identifies broken prestressing wire wraps; while on metallic pipe, it identifies localized areas of corrosion. Several tube-like canisters contain the electronics systems, electromagnetic and ultrasonic. Electromagnetic pulse technology inspects pipes made of concrete, pinging off the wires wrapped around the pipe providing compressive force to hold it together. If these wires fail, they can compromise the pipe’s structural integrity, which can lead to a leak, and eventually a water main break. Ultrasonic technology for metallic pipes measures the thickness of the pipe and areas of corrosion. An area where the thickness is less than acceptable is pinpointed as a potential issue. Following the inspections, Pure Technologies, a Xylem subsidiary involved in developing innovative technologies for critical infrastructure, analyzes the data and sends reports with the findings to the utility. Using PipeDiver to inspect a buried pipeline requires planning, coordination, and proper execution. Each inspection requires a custom build for the specific type and size of the pipe. Crews must carefully assemble, test, balance, and disinfect the device before each inspection. After the device completes its route, crews use custom-designed nets to catch the device and pull it out of the pipe. Photo courtesy of Pure Technologies. WTR