Advanced pipeline inspection with XeThru sensor technology
Pipes of different sizes and materials make up a large part of critical infrastructure in today’s society. Even though pipe networks are laid in stable soil they are under a constant stress from rain water causing the soil to wash away, roots from trees tries to penetrate resulting in clogging of the pipes and also in some cases vibrations caused by earth quakes or even traffic. An extreme consequence of such stress is seen from time to time, when old underground water pipe infrastructure is turning into small disasters with dirt being washed away creating what we know as “earth holes”. Earth holes take several lives every year and causes huge collateral damage, leaving many people without critical infrastructure. The only way we can control the stressing of the pipes, and in the end avoid such disasters is by inspecting the pipes from the inside out. Pipe line inspection is today typically done visually by driving a robot with a camera inside the pipe. Camera inspection has a clear disadvantage in that it only reveals weaknesses and damages that are visible from the inside. Here’s where the penetration properties of XeThru comes in handy. By embedding XeThru technology into Cues inspection vehicle, FutureScan, Flat Earth has given pipe inspection a new dimension. XeThru adds features like void detection, pipe wall thickness measurement and detection of rebar corrosion. By utilizing XeThru technology in Flat Earth´s development, Cues FutureScan provides the most comprehensive in-situ pipe inspection in the market today, to speak in their own words. This application demonstrates XeThru’s ability to perform in dirty environments. In their marketing Cues states that pipe inspection does not require any cleaning or preparation, and the pipe charge could be up to 50%. Being able to see through dirt increases detection rate and inspection certainty, and is an absolute for this application. The XeThru hardware is easily mounted onto their transporter with the antenna mounted on a servo that rotate the antenna for 360 degree pipe coverage. Ruggedized coaxial cables connects the antenna with the XeThru module. Initial processing on the FutureScan platform is conducted using real-time algorithms. Signal processing performed on stored data after measurements, can of course be implemented with different levels of complexity. The raw data from a XeThru contains a lot of information and by applying more sophisticated processing to the data, more details would be revealed on the anomalies discovered in the real-time processing.