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iDROLOCiDROLOC

iDROLOC is a leak detection system that uses helium as a tracer gas to carry out inspections without interrupting the water service for users.

It detects water leaks in both long-distance, large-diameter pipelines and in small distribution pipes and connections, in urban and non-urban environments. It offers a more precise and effective alternative to conventional acoustic methods, detecting leaks that are unnoticed by the latter system.

It operates on the basis of two premises: helium is lighter than air, due to which it tends to rise naturally to the surface; and the helium concentration in the earth’s atmosphere has a constant value.

 

Description of the process

The iDROLOC work methodology consists of injecting helium upstream from the zone to be inspected to force its dissolution in the water carrying it.

At the leak, the water impregnates the earth and helium is released from the water due to the desorption phenomenon until it reaches the surface.

The network is then inspected with an automated system that takes samples at given points of the air contained in the surface of the earth through which the pipeline runs.

As helium is naturally found in very low concentrations in the environment, when iDROLOC detects helium in higher concentrations there must be a leak in the inspected water network.

Alberto Jiménez Contact

Characteristics

  • Easy to manage; only one operator is required for its use.
  • Precise leak detection, saving time and resources in repairs.
  • Effective leak detection for several days after injection, whether the network is in service or not.
  • No effect on public health or water quality.
  • Fully portable inspection equipment. Easily exported and/or transported to any part of the world.

Functions

  • Detects leaks in large pipelines, where conventional acoustic methods are not an option.
  • Sounds and vibrations that could affect other leak detection systems are not a factor, even old undiscovered leaks where pooling has resulted in noise dissipation can be detected.
  • Enables the approximate size of the leak to be determined, facilitating the prioritisation of repairs for the network manager.
  • It is unparalleled when it comes to leak detection in plastic pipes and low-pressure networks, without the need for access points.
  • It is capable of carrying out complex leak detection in urban water cooling and heating networks.
  • The pipe can remain in service throughout the process without the need for any preparatory operations, such as closing valves or modifying pumps.
  • Watertightness tests can be performed on sectored zones.
  • Load tests can be carried out on pipes before use.
  • Pipe condition assessment: the condition of large-diameter supply connections and seals can be analysed.
  • Calibration of mathematical models: real pipeline routes, water flow direction, valve opening and closing verification, etc.
  • It can be used as a fraud detector (illegal connections) for pipelines of any diameter.

LEAK DETECTION IN PIPELINES IN SERVICE, ORAN (July 2013)

In early summer 2013, Aqualogy carried out a leak detection campaign using the iDROLOC system in the Oran drinking water supply network, managed by Sociéte de l'Eau et de l'Assainissement (SEOR).

The work focussed on two very different areas with equally successful results. The first phase covered the network’s largest and least accessible arteries: 300- to 1,000-mm-diameter pipes running alongside some of Oran’s busiest and noisiest streets. The second phase involved leak detection in a low-pressure zone with PVC/PE pipes of 50 mm in diameter.

The tracer gas system detected a total of 56 leaks in the distribution (approximately 12 km) and transport (7 km) networks.

LEAK DETECTION IN PIPELINES IN SERVICE, TARRAGONA (June 2013)

In June 2013, EMATSA planned to locate a leak in a 500-metre-long water pipeline running under the Avenida Roma in Tarragona, one of the city’s busiest roads.

The work, which took three days and found the leak, would have been a much more complicated affair with conventional acoustic leak detection methods, given the noise levels generated by traffic on the avenue. Once the leak was repaired, this section of the city’s network could once again be used after a long period of disuse.

LEAK DETECTION IN PIPELINES IN SERVICE, DETROIT (November 2013)

In late November 2013, the American subsidiary of Aqualogy, USG, used the iDROLOC leak detection system in the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department network to find three leaks in a section of cast iron pipe 1,200 mm in diameter. Two helium injections were required, one using a lance and the other using hydrants, as access to the pipe was impossible.

The USG-Aqualogy team inspected the 3-km route of the pipeline, running under both earth and asphalt, for 3 days and found two seals that had worn out and were leaking in addition to a major leak that was running into the sewerage network. This action highlights the versatility of Aqualogy’s iDROLOC system, which can be used in all types of land and with all types and diameters of pipe.

LEAK DETECTION IN PIPELINES IN SERVICE, LISBON (March 2014)

Here, iDROLOC faced a new challenge: the detection of leaks in hot and cold water networks. The company Climaespaço wanted to locate leaks in its cold water distribution networks that could not be detected with traditional methods. Acoustic leak detection systems are not effective with these pipes as, like hot water pipes, their strong thermal insulation prevents heat dissipation.

The iDROLOC system, which uses helium gas technology, found a leak that was losing 95 m³/day in one of the main pipes used to cool buildings in the urban environment. Following the injection of helium gas into the network, the leak was precisely detected in a pipe 300 mm in diameter and at a depth of 4.5m.

Aqualogy was able to use the iDROLOC robot in this operation despite the difficulty of dissolving gases in such adverse conditions. This action shows the adaptability and efficiency of iDROLOC in meeting the toughest challenges in the industrial sector.