The extensive network of high-pressure natural gas transmission pipelines covering the United States provides an important infrastructure for our energy independence. Early detection of pipeline leaks and infringements by construction equipment, resulting in corrosion fractures, presents an important aspect of our national security policy. The National Energy Technology Laboratory Strategic Center for Natural Gas (SCVG) is and has been funding research on various applicable techniques. The WVU research team has focused on monitoring pipeline background acoustic signals generated and transmitted by gas flowing through the gas inside the pipeline. In case of a pipeline infringement, any mechanical impact on the pipe wall, or escape of high-pressure gas, generates acoustic signals traveling both up and down stream through the gas. Sudden changes in flow noise are detectable with a Portable Acoustic Monitoring Package (PAMP), developed under this contract. It incorporates a pressure compensating microphone and a signal- recording device. Direct access to the gas inside the line is obtained by mounting such a PAMP, with a 1/2 inch NPT connection, to a pipeline pressure port found near most shut-off valves. An FFT of the recorded signal subtracted by that of the background noise recorded one-second earlier appears to sufficiently isolate the infringement signal to allow source interpretation. Using cell phones for data downloading might allow a network of such 1000-psi rated PAMP's to acoustically monitor a pipeline system and be trained by neural network software to positively identify and locate any pipeline infringement.
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DOIS: 10.2172/822767 10.2172/822871 10.2172/838440 10.2172/838452
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