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Sensors 2011, 11(8), 7455-7475; doi:10.3390/s110807455
Article

Smart Pipes—Instrumented Water Pipes, Can This Be Made a Reality?

1,* , 1
,
2
,
2
 and
1,†
1 School of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Science, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK 2 School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Science, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK Former Research Fellow.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 June 2011 / Revised: 21 July 2011 / Accepted: 22 July 2011 / Published: 27 July 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaborative Sensors)

Abstract

Several millions of kilometres of pipes and cables are buried beneath our streets in the UK. As they are not visible and easily accessible, the monitoring of their integrity as well as the quality of their contents is a challenge. Any information of these properties aids the utility owners in their planning and management of their maintenance regime. Traditionally, expensive and very localised sensors are used to provide irregular measurements of these properties. In order to have a complete picture of the utility network, cheaper sensors need to be investigated which would allow large numbers of small sensors to be incorporated into (or near to) the pipe leading to so-called smart pipes. This paper focuses on a novel trial where a short section of a prototype smart pipe was buried using mainly off-the-shelf sensors and communication elements. The challenges of such a burial are presented together with the limitations of the sensor system. Results from the sensors were obtained during and after burial indicating that off-the-shelf sensors can be used in a smart pipes system although further refinements are necessary in order to miniaturise these sensors. The key challenges identified were the powering of these sensors and the communication of the data to the operator using a range of different methods.
Keywords: smart pipes; intelligent water distribution networks; MEMS; smart technology; structural monitoring smart pipes; intelligent water distribution networks; MEMS; smart technology; structural monitoring
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Metje, N.; Chapman, D.N.; Cheneler, D.; Ward, M.; Thomas, A.M. Smart Pipes—Instrumented Water Pipes, Can This Be Made a Reality? Sensors 2011, 11, 7455-7475.

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