In-Situ Imaging of Water Pipelines Using Ultrasonic Guided Waves

EPA Contract Number: EPD11041
Title: In-Situ Imaging of Water Pipelines Using Ultrasonic Guided Waves
Investigators: Zhang, Li
Small Business: FBS Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011
Project Amount: $79,956
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The widely distributed water infrastructure system provides drinking water and wastewater treatment for human life and the environment. A significant amount of the water infrastructure network has served the public for decades and is encountering aging problems. Water leakage resulting from aging infrastructure may put human life and public health at risk. Therefore, it is imperative to search for effective inspection and monitoring technologies that guarantee the safety and integrity of water infrastructure. FBS, Inc. has expertise on ultrasonic guided wave technology transfer and product development for all aspects of Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) applications, especially in pipeline, rail, civil infrastructure, etc. We propose to develop a reliable and cost-effective ultrasonically (UT) based device for in-situ defect detection of water infrastructure and for defect classification. The proposed technology combines a guided wave focusing technique with the recently developed magnetostrictive sensors. Magnetostrictive sensors are flexible, robust, lightweight, and low-cost. They are also capable of producing strong guided energy into pipelines. With our guided wave focusing technique, the inspection range can be further increased. Longer inspection allows reduction in cost. FBS has gained much experience through ONR, DOT, and EPRI-sponsored work on defect detection using long-range ultrasonic guided waves for pipe inspections. We recognize the need for reliable, cost-saving, and safe inspection solutions for the maintenance and replacement of water infrastructures. The work in this proposal builds on the FBS accomplishments to date. Earlier work was focused on the phased array focusing method location and detection accuracy. The proposed work is dedicated to cost reduction to implement the needed inspection method. For Phase I, we will approach the development of magnetostrictive sensors and the implementation of the guided wave focusing technique. We will also prepare an in-situ magnetostrictive sensor based ultrasonic package for defect detection in water tubes and establish the feasibility for buried pipe inspection. For phase II, we will develop a UT inspect ion system that is capable of defect detection and classification for water infrastructures. We believe that the “intelligence” necessary to perform the measurements, archive them, and guide maintenance designs can be bundled into a hand-held device interfaced with a minimal ultrasonic package and/or a commercially cost effective UT inspection system.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final
  • SBIR Phase II:

    Defect Detection in Water Pipelines Using Ultrasonic Guided Waves  | Final Report