The patent's assignee is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The presence of a leak represents a loss of resources as well as an economic loss. In some cases, for example, when the fluid is a toxic or combustible material, the presence of a leak can create a dangerous situation.
"Leaks can be detected in two general ways. The first is by detecting the substance that escapes the vessel. The second is by detecting certain leak-related properties such as pressure drops, acoustic emissions, volume balance changes and temperature changes.
"When a leak occurs, the leak generates a vibration that propagates through the material of the pipe, through the fluid in the pipe, and through the media that is adjacent to the pipe and leak. The leak vibration and pipeline acoustic characteristics greatly depend on the dimensions and material of the pipes. If the pipeline is buried, the transmission characteristics also depend on the type of soil within which the pipeline is buried.
"The frequencies indicative of water leakage in a metal pipe system are in the range of 400-1500 Hz. Acoustic methods are often used in leak detection and pipe inspection in water systems. In these methods, Piezo-electric vibration detectors, or accelerometers, are placed at one or more locations in the water system on pipes, the ground or on walls. The Piezo-electric detectors are constructed as a spring-mass system, having a relatively high resonance frequency and a flat response in the lower frequencies. The detector is usually designed to have a resonance frequency significantly above the frequencies indicative of water leakage, so that the frequencies used in water detection are in the flat, linear, response region of the detector.
"U.S. Pat. No. 7,360,413 to Jefferies discloses a wireless water flow monitoring and leak detection system that includes a base station, a memory, and a central processing unit configured to control the operation of the system and to analyze stored data. Wireless flow sensor nodes are installed on a supply line of a water fixture in a facility having a plurality of water fixtures. The wireless flow sensor nodes can periodically read and store a data point corresponding to either a flow condition or a no flow condition occurring at the water fixture. Coordinator nodes wirelessly relay data to between the plurality of wireless flow sensor nodes and the base station. The base station is configured to determine whether a leak exists in any of the water fixtures.
"U.S. Pat. No. 6,789,411 to Roy discloses an apparatus for detecting leaks in an underground water pipe. A hydrophone monitors water flowing along the pipe and an alarm signal is generated when a flow parameter is above a maximum value or below a minimum value. A radio transmitter transmits the alarm signal to a remote receiver."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present invention provides a device and method for leak detection in at least a portion of fluid distribution system delivering a fluid such as water or gas to one or more recipients. The portion of the pipe network in which leak detection is to be performed may be, for example, part of municipal pipe network, in which case, the pipe network would span a geographical region. As another example, the portion of the pipe network in which leak detection is to be performed may be confined to a single building. Some or all of the pipe network may be accessible, and some or all of the pipe network may be concealed, for example, buried underground or contained in a wall.
"The device of the invention includes a vibration sensor such as a microphone and a locator that determines a location of the device at any time. The locator may include, for example, a device for receiving signals from a global position satellite (GPS) or an accelerometer.
"In the method of the invention, the device is moved from one location to another and placed in contact with a pipe or a medium or substance surrounding a pipe element in the pipe network suspected for a leak. At each location, a processor of the device samples vibration signals generated by the vibration sensor over a predetermined time interval and calculates the average power in one or more predetermined frequency bands at each of two or more locations. The processor generates a graphical representation of the calculated average intensity at each location together with the location, and displays the graphical representation on a display screen. The graphical representation may be in the form of a map of the fluid distribution system showing the average power calculated at the different locations on the distribution system.
"The invention also provides a vibration sensor that may be used, for example, in the vibration detector node. The vibration sensor of the invention includes a Piezo to membrane and one or more an inertial masses. An elastomeric layer is positioned between the inertial mass and the Piezo that provides damping and also functions as an adhesive between the inertial mass and the Piezo membrane.
"Thus, in one of its aspects, the invention provides a device for leak detection and localization in at least a portion of a of fluid distribution system, the fluid distribution system including at least part of a pipe network, comprising: (a) a vibration sensor generating a signal indicative of vibrations detected by the vibration sensor; (b) a position locator configured to determine a location of the device; © a first processor having a first memory configured for each of two or more locations of the device, to calculate a parameter of the signal generated by the vibration sensor at the location over a predetermined time period, the parameter being indicative of an average power of the signal over the time period; determine the location of the device from the locator; store in the first memory a location of the device and the parameter calculated for the signal generated by the vibration detector at the location; (d) a second processor configured to determine a location where the calculated parameter has a maximum value satisfying a predetermined criterion.
"In the device of the invention, the second processor may be the same as the first processor.
"In the device of the invention, the locator may be selected, for example, from a device for receiving signals from a global position satellite, an accelerometer, and a video based platform using a video. The vibration sensor may be configured to be connected to a microphone connector of a portable device, such as a smart phone, PDA or laptop. In this case, any one or more of the locator, first processor and first memory may be contained in the portable device.
"The device may further comprise a display device, in which case the second processor may be configured to display on the display device a graphical representation of the measured parameters at the two or more locations. The second processor may be located at a base station. The base station may be provided with a display device, in which case, the second processor may configured to display on the display device a graphical representation of the measured parameters at the two or more locations. The to device may be configured to communicate with the base station.
"The second processor may be further configured to calculate by interpolation of the average power calculated for locations at which vibrational data were obtained vibration intensities at locations along the pipe network where vibrational data were not obtained. The graphical representation may be in the form of a map of the at least part of a pipe network indicating the value of the calculated parameter at two or more locations in the pipe network.
"The first or second processor may be further configured to generate an alert if a leak is detected.
"In another of its aspects, the invention provides a vibration sensor comprising: (a) a support (b) a Piezo membrane; © a first inertial mass; (d) a first vibrational damping elastomeric layer between at least one of the inertial masses and the Piezo membrane.
"The vibration may further comprise a brass plate in contact with the Piezo membrane. The Piezo membrane and the elastomeric layer may be enclosed in a rigid vibration damped frame.
"The vibration sensor may further comprise a second inertial mass, there being a second vibrational damping elastomeric layer between the first and the second inertial masses.
"In another of its aspects, the invention provides a method for leak detection and localization in at least a portion of a of fluid distribution system, the fluid distribution system including at least part of a pipe network, comprising: (a) For each of two or more locations: generating a signal indicative of vibrations at the location; (b) generating a signal indicative of the location; © calculating a parameter of the vibration signal indicative of an average power of the signal over the time period; (d) display on a display device a graphical representation of the calculated parameter at each of the two or more locations.
"The method method of the invention may further comprise calculating by interpolation of the average power calculated for locations at which vibrational data to were obtained, vibration intensities at locations along the pipe network where vibrational data were not obtained. An alert may be detected when a leak is detected.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"In order to understand the invention and to see how it may be carried out in practice, embodiments will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
"FIG. 1 shows a device for leak detection in a pipe network in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 2 shows schematically the device for leak detection of FIG. 1 FIG. 3 shows a vibration sensor in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 4 shows a vibration sensor in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 5 shows a vibration sensor in accordance with third embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 6 shows a schematic diagram of the vibration sensor of FIG. 5; and
"FIG. 7 shows the response of the vibration sensor of FIG. 5."
For additional information on this patent application, see: Solomon, David. Method and System for Leak Detection in a Pipe Network. Filed
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