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New drone detects and seals pipeline leaks

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World Pipelines,

The United Arab Emirates’ National Drones for Good Award has been awarded to the ‘Buildrone’ team from Imperial College London. The drone designed is able to detect an oil and/or gas pipeline leak, before ‘printing’ off material that can be used to seal the leak itself. The team was led by student Talib Alhinai.

Alhinai stated: “Compared to current methods where humans have to maintain pipelines, our approach offers major time and cost savings while simultaneously reducing risks to engineers when doing inspection and repair tasks.”

The drone has the ability of repairing leaks by depositing liquid polyurethane foam on the pipeline, which expands in five minutes after coming into contact with the air, thus effectively sealing the area.

Expanding on the question of whether this type of technology is a global necessity, Alhinai answered: “Oil spills in vulnerable environments, leaks from explosive methane gas in cracked pipelines and toxic chemicals escaping supply pipes are a major hazard and can endanger humans, the ecosystem and lead to substantial financial losses. Recent examples of pipeline leaks include: the toxic spill of cancerous chemicals in the Yellowstone River in the US; a leak in Alberta, Canada, where 5 million l of oil polluted the environment; and a gas pipeline explosion that killed five people in Mexico.”

Edited from various sources by Stephanie Roker

Sources: Imperial College LondonEureka Magazine, Fierce Mobile IT

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