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According to recent reports, a team of researchers from the university of British Columbia, USA, are currently investigating a new method to monitor underground gas pipelines in residential areas using high tech sensors. These high tech sensors will make it much easier to find weaknesses, discrepancies and inconsistency in natural gas lines.

Master of Applied Science student Abdullah Zayat and his supervisor Dr. Anas Chaaban, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, tested a technique that allows for the inspection of HDPE pipes with ultrasonic sensors — which transmit ultrasound signals through the pipe.

According to, Zayat stated that little has been done on the commonly used high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, which carries natural gas to homes. “Early detection of structural degradation is essential to maintaining safety and integrity. And it lowers the risk of catastrophic failure,” he explains.

The new monitoring method limits the likelihood of gas diversions — where gas is siphoned to an unmetered location for unmeasured consumption.

“This tampering with the pipe poses many risks since it is unrecorded, violates pipeline quality standards and can lead to potential leaks and possibly explosions. This can pose a significant risk to public safety, property and the environment in the vicinity of the altered gas line,” says Dr. Chaaban. “Such diversions have been discovered in the past through word of mouth, leaks or unexpected encounters with an unrecorded natural gas pipe in a construction site.”

Previous research has studied the inspection of metallic structures using ultrasonic-guided waves (UGWs). However, this type of testing has not yet been done to inspect non-metallic structures such as HDPE pipelines.

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