Severn Trent is trialling the use of fibre optic leakage detectors that promise greater sensitivity and coverage than offered by the current leading technology.
According to Severn Trent fibre optic cables inserted in water pipes detect changes in pressure, temperature, vibrations and sound to provide early detection leaks when they are in the formative stages. period. And it is superior to hydrophone technology in that it can detect multiple leaks one greater lengths of pipe.
Severn Trent technical project lead, Jo Claronino, said: “By ‘listening’ out for any of these changes, we think this technology has enormous potential to act as an early warning system across our network, helping us to pinpoint where these issues are and to carry out the repair before it develops into a bigger problem. “It’s not just about leaks and bursts either. Fibre optics can also tell us when and where people are accessing our network illegally.”
Severn Trent recently installed 750m of fibre optic cable inside a section of its network, to test its capabilities in what it claimed to be the test first of its kind in the UK on a live main. It said future trials were planned for later in the year, where fibre optic cables will be permanently installed across a longer stretch of Severn Trent’s network. Fibre optic cables act as a long line of continuous microphones or sensors that can ‘hear’ multiple leaks simultaneously across a longer distance. Once a leak is identified, the location can be pinpointed accurately.
The trial is part of Severn Trent’s contribution to the World Water Innovation Fund – a global initiative launched last year, to encourage water companies to collaborate in sharing new technologies and best practice.