Leak Detection and Self Healing Pipelines Using Twin Balls Technology

Chalgham, Wadie (University of Louisiana) | Seibi, Abdennour (University of Louisiana) | Lomas, Matthew (University of Louisiana)

OnePetro 

Healing leaks is always a priority in the oil and gas industry and plays a major concern to human safety. The time required to fix any leak has a direct relationship in determining the damages caused to the environment, industry and most importantly the number of lives lost caused by catastrophic pipe failures. Detecting leak size and location in pipelines with higher accuracy present major challenges to operators. This paper presents an innovative solution to detect leaks or potential future leaks and heal them instantly using Twin Balls Technology. The solution is based on establishing a relationship between leaks and its associated sound level. Knowing those sound levels precisely and how they propagate with respect to time from the leak source will help build the solution with higher precision. The solution consists of inserting two flowing smart balls into the pipeline. The first smart ball will be receiving acoustic data thanks to the sensors inside of it. Once the threshold of sound level is surpassed, designed thanks to multiple experiments, the smart ball will send a signal immediately to a second flowing ball responsible of ejecting a healing fluid. The healing fluid will flow towards the leaking outlet and close it instantly, preventing any further damages. Also, the first ball will alert instantly the supervisors via wifi monitoring and text messages describing the leak size and location. Twin Balls Technology could be used in pipelines of different sizes and flowing fluids.