Pipe-inspecting robots may soon have an additional tool in their arsenal – and it’s already been used to help one Louisiana city with structural damage endured during Hurricane Katrina.
Researchers at Louisiana Tech University developed a new technology called ultra-wide band pulsed radar to inspect buried pipelines, tunnels, and culverts to detect fractures, quantify corrosion, and determine soil voids caused by water leaks and flooding.
The UWB technology was used to help the City of Slidell, La., identify and document underground infrastructure damage left undetected in the years after Hurricane Katrina.
The technology incorporates simulation, electronics, robots, signal processing, and three-dimensional renderings in a package mounted to the pipe-inspecting robots.
“Our UWB technology was based on recognizing the need within the trenchless industry for an advanced pipeline inspection tool that can quantify the structural integrity of buried municipal pipers like sewers and storm drains,” said Arun Jaganathan, associate professor of civil engineering and construction engineering technology at Louisiana Tech.
“The radar system emits ultra-short electromagnetic pulses from inside of a sewer pipe and captures the signals back-scattered from the pipe to determine the condition of various layers hidden behind the wall which we cannot directly see using visual tools such as a camera. The radar is integrated into a robot which crawls through a pipe and relays the data back to the operator in real time.”
Jaganathan and other researchers from the university came to Slidell in 2013 to pinpoint regions of the city that would most benefit from UWB, as well as to test and investigate the underground infrastructure problems. Using the technology, they were able to see the compromised infrastructure.
The information gathered by Jaganathan and his team helped the city to secure $75 million in FEMA funding to restore its underground pipeline system.
“Our FY2017 total budget for the City of Slidell is just under $43 million,” said Jay Newcomb, a Slidell city councilman. “We have almost two whole budgets to spend on streets, drainage, and sewer thanks to the collective efforts to many, beginning with the research conducted by Louisiana Tech University.”
Newcomb said the State of Louisiana should look closely at the innovations happening at its public universities.
“I truly believe that far too many municipalities’ first response to problems is, ‘Who do we hire to consult/fix this’, instead of asking ‘I wonder if any of our public universities have researched this topic or have any prior experience dealing with a similar situation?’”
Filed Under: Infrastructure