Industrial Automation

How would you detect a small leakage in a gas pipeline?

  • In this article, we will discuss the best possible methods to detect a gas leakage in a pipeline.
  • The gas pipeline system is the most essential component in transporting gas from one point to another point in order to convey the gas efficiently.
  • Low levels of maintenance and safety both contribute to a greater degree of financial loss, which shows itself in the form of wasted fluid gas and harmful impacts on the environment.     
  • Generally, Acoustic Monitoring Techniques make use of Acoustic Emission Sensors (AES) to sense leaks based on variations in the background noise pattern. 
  • The pipeline leakage detection system determines the occurrence of leakage in the liquids and gases system.
  • The advantages of the Acoustic monitoring technique encompass

1.Detection of the location of the leakage.

2.Non-interference with pipeline operation.

How would you detect a small leakage in a gas pipeline?

What are the methods of leakage detection after pipeline erection?

Methods of leakage detection during service include 

  1. Hydrostatic Testing, 
  2. Infrared testing 
  3. Laser Technology 
  • These Pipeline networks are considered as the most economical & safest mode of transportation for various fluids such as gases, oil, & other fluid products.
  • These Pipeline networks must accomplish higher demands of safety, reliability, and efficiency for long-distance transport.
  • The pipeline system lasts for a longer time period if it is maintained properly. 
  • In some cases, a remarkable leakage occurs due to damage in excavation or digging. 
  • Some other reasons for the leakage of gas such as accidents, earth movement     or sabotage.
  • The low maintenance can cause corrosion at pipeline joint areas, low points where moisture gets collected, or disfigurement in the pipe location.
  • There are some inspection tools to identify these leakage defects which are corrected prior to the leak.

What is the purpose of Leakage Detection Systems (LDS)?

  • The main purpose of Leakage Detection Systems (LDS) is to assist pipeline controllers in detecting and localizing the leaks. 
  • Leakage Detection Systems (LDS) tend to improve system productivity, & reliability. 
  • Leakage Detection Systems (LDS) minimize downtime and inspection time.
  • Leakage Detection Systems (LDS) issues an audible alarm and also displays some other related information to the pipeline controllers to assist decision-making. 

Classification of Leakage Detection Systems (LDS)

As per API RP-1130 Leakage Detection Systems (LDS) are classified into

  • Internally based LDS:

This system uses field instrumentation like flow sensors, pressure sensors, or temperature sensors to control and monitor internal pipeline parameters. 

  • Externally based LDS. 

This system makes use of infrared radiometers, thermal cameras, vapor sensors, acoustic microphones, or fiber-optic cables to monitor external pipeline parameters.

Some essential requirements for an LDS:

API 1155 is been replaced by API RP 1130

  1. Sensitivity: 
  • An LDS must verify fluid loss as a result of leakage with possible minimum leakage.
  • This system must detect minute leakages in less time. 
  1. Reliability: 
  • An operator must have the ability to believe Leakage Detection Systems for accurate reports of real alarms, but the main thing is that this LDS must not generate false alarms.
  1. Accuracy: 
  • Most LDS determine leakage flow with exact location with greater accuracy.
  1. Robustness: 
  • Leakage Detection Systems must be able to function in non-ideal situations like in case of a failure in the transducer.
  • The system operation must not be halted, or interrupted and must be resumed possibly with a mandatory agreement like minimized sensitivity.

Safety Tips & Signs for determining a leakage in a gas pipeline

  • Gas is considered as a source of energy. 
  • Gas leakages may lead to serious injuries to health and the environment.
  • Gas leakages might become hazardous, & life- frightening if neglected or not maintained.

Things everyone must know 

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the system. 
  • If a CO detector detects carbon monoxide gas, the detector starts to beep to give an alert saying that something dangerous is going to happen.
  • Observe hissing sounds, white dusty clouds, and sulphuric odors, since these are the signals of gas leakage.
  • If you ensure for leakage of gas evacuate your home, open all vents and step out, & call the emergency 

How to detect a small leakage in a small pipeline?

Here we will follow some methods shown below

Method 1 By using of Gas Detector

  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors throughout the piping system.
  • Make use of a handheld natural gas detector to spot the leakage.
  • Set a radon detection test for a minimum of 48-72 hours

Method 2 Investigate the Signs of Natural Gas 

  • Check if you inhale such rotten egg smell or sulfuric smell.
  • Listen for a hissing or whistling noise near appliances or pipelines.
  • Investigate the color of the flame on the burner side it must have a blue flame, if the flame color is changed to orange/yellow then ensure natural gas isn’t burning properly.
  • Observe a white cloud of dust moving near your gas lines.

Method 3 Locating a Natural Gas Leak in Your Pipes

  • Take 250 mL of pure water and add one tablespoon of dishwashing gel.
  • Apply the mixture onto your pipe connection
  • Observe the air bubbles on the applied soapy dishwashing gel and water mixture.
  • Mark the spot on the pipe by using a marker.
  • Arrest the leakage immediately.

Frequently asked questions

What is the API standard for leak detection?

API RP 1175

What is the ASME Code for the leak test?

ASME B31.3

How gas leakage is detected?

The smell of rotten eggs

Since natural gas is colorless, that can’t be visualized, so this natural gas is added with chemicals called odorants to sulfur or rotting eggs for easy identification 

What are the best methods of leakage detection in gas pipelines?

Acoustic signal and HHT 

What gas is used in identifying gas leakage?

Ethyl Mercaptan

What is used to detect gas leaks?

Carbon Monoxide and Explosive Gas Detector.

Sundareswaran Iyalunaidu

With over 24 years of dedicated experience, I am a seasoned professional specializing in the commissioning, maintenance, and installation of Electrical, Instrumentation and Control systems. My expertise extends across a spectrum of industries, including Power stations, Oil and Gas, Aluminium, Utilities, Steel and Continuous process industries. Tweet me @sundareshinfohe

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