Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield engineers develop water leak detection device

A new device to detect leaks in water pipes has been developed by the University of Sheffield.

The equipment allows engineers to locate a leak in an underground pipe, to within one metre.

It has been field tested in Bradford by Yorkshire Water, which said it was now deciding "whether it can be employed in our day to day operations."

According to water regulator Ofwat, in 2011 Yorkshire Water lost 25% of its water supply through leaks.

The detector has been developed by Professor Stephen Beck of the university's Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Prof Beck said the high number of leaks was down to the UK's legacy of iron water pipes.

False readings

He said: "Because we have got these old pipes which have been down there, some of them, for over a century. They tend to be leaky and most of the pipes are like that."

"Plastic pipes should reduce leaks but even they can sometimes fail."

The current system uses microphones to detect the sound of leaking water. Problems can arise in detecting leaks in plastic pipes, which can provide false readings.

The new device sends pressure waves along the pipes which are reflected back when they hit a crack.

Dr Allyson Seth, networks analytics manager at Yorkshire Water said: "Driving down leakage on our 31,000km network of water pipes is a high priority for us.

"Our work with engineers at the University of Sheffield is the latest example of this, and we look forward to working with them going forward to build on what has been achieved so far."

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