Electricore, Inc. and National Optics Institute (INO), with support from TransCanada and the National Scientific Research Institute (INRS), are developing a transportable leak detection system that will externally locate, identify, and assess small liquid and gaseous leaks (weeper/seepers) from a safe standoff distance.
While pipelines are one of the safest ways to transport oil & gas, some leaks may still occur. Current leak detection systems are not reliable enough in detecting minute leaks. This is a challenging problem due to the fact pipelines are underground. However, pipeline operators and leak detection service providers want to set higher and safer standards for pipeline inspection.
The solution is a remote sensing instrument for the detection of vapors from liquid petroleum pipeline leaks. When a leak occurs underground, volatile chemical components slowly migrate to the surface and form a very small cloud of gas. While a human can’t see this cloud, INO’s technology can.
The prototype sensor will include one or more of the following three spectroscopic instruments, all mounted on a mobile platform:
Remote capability up to 100 yards was evaluated in a laboratory and a simulated leak setting using different concentrations of vapors from petroleum products typically transported by pipelines.
The goal of this project is to provide operators with a powerful tool for the detection of underground leaks before they escalate. Mounted on a helicopter, the device will send light pulses to detect the small clouds of gas, and then quickly and precisely identify the leak location.
The first phase of the project was to assess the standoff detection capabilities of INO’s platforms. UV-Raman, UV-DiAL and IR-DiAL are almost equivalent in terms of their limits of detection when looking for vapor plumes, be it through alkanes or aromatics or both. INO is looking into promising alternatives, especially with UV-absorption, and would appreciate the opportunity to participate in field trials on simulated leaks or real pipelines.