Service: SmartBall - Leak Detection
Client: Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation
Project Date: July 2011
Location: Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
Type of Pipeline: Water Main
Pipe Material: Polyethylene
Length: 2,300 feet (700 meters)
Pressure: 50 psi
Results: 2 leaks
Several other technologies failed to identify the location of the leaks that were known to exist within a small distribution main feeding a collection of small homes and cabins in the Kananaskis region of Alberta. This polyethylene line of 6-inch diameter pipe also had limited drawings and features available for insertion and extraction.
The unconventional decision to insert and extract the SmartBall tool through fire hydrants was planned and implemented without issue. After systematically valving the line to isolate and pressurize sections that were suspected to contain the leak, the tool was allowed to traverse the line. SmartBall immediately identified two leaks and correctly identified the feature that was leaking. Neither of these leaks were evident at the surface.
It is estimated that approximately $300,000 had previously been spent in efforts to locate these leaks without success. After mobilization of the SmartBall crew, the leak was correctly identified within hours.
This is the first time SmartBall has found a leak after being inserted and extracted through hydrants.
In addition, because cross connections to the plastic line were made of metal, the SmartBall's on-board magnetometer was able to correctly identify appurtenances within its data to estimate the location of the leaking features to within one foot.
SmartBall is a free-swimming instrumented aluminum core encased in a foam shell capable of detecting and accurately locating acoustic activity associated with leaks and pockets of trapped gas in pressurized pipelines.
SmartBall is inserted into a pipeline and travels with the water flow for up to twelve hours. Very long lengths of pipeline can be surveyed in a single deployment, depending on pipeline flow rates. Once the tool is removed from the pipeline, proprietary software is used to evaluate the data and provide a report that lists the size and location of leaks and pockets of trapped gas.
SmartBall is applicable for large and small diameter pressurized pipe of any material.