The research and development of Acoustek® is performed by a team at the University of Manchester, UK. Currently the research falls under one of three areas:
The fundamental difference between the areas of application is the size of the pipeline and the pressure within them. For offshore and natural gas transmission the pipelines are kilometers in length with diameters of up to 1 meter, operating at pressures of up to 150 bar. This requires a large signal to be injected into the system to successfully survey the pipe. For this application compressed gas is used as the sound source. This gas is injected into the system via a fast acting solenoid valve. A single pulse has been shown to propagate more than 10km and still be detectable at the pipe source. The resulting reflections are recorded with a highly sensitive pressure transducer. To interpret the results a signal processing suite is used to remove the effects of background noise and to improve clarity.
For the domestic gas distribution and heat exchanger surveys the pipelines are much shorter (up to 200m) and so amplified loudspeaker technology can be used. Recent research has led to the development of a probe for fast and accurate surveying of banks of heat exchanger tubes. Complex binary acoustic signals are injected into the system and the resulting signal is heavily processed to reveal even the smallest variations in cross-section. The system can detect features as small as pitting in the tube wall or changes in cross-section caused by over-tightening of a saddle around the outside of the pipe.
The University of Manchester team are open to new ideas for applications of Acoustek® and are willing to work with industry to tailor the product for new applications. We have a well equipped laboratory for testing and are keen to work with companies in all sectors.