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Nick Hawkins
Acoustic Sensing

e: nick.hawkins@acousticsensing.co.uk
t: +44 (0)1925 606505





Underpinning knowledge

Sources of funding

EPSRC - 2010-2013 Advanced numerical modelling of sound propagation in sewer networks

KTP - 2006-2008 The design/development and implementation of a new sewerage telemetry system to monitor flooding and pollution incidents in cellars and sewer-infrastructure
Similar cases

None listed.

Peer reviewed papers

A.Tolstoy, K. V. Horoshenkov and M. T. Bin Ali. (2009). Detecting pipe change via acoustic matched field processing. Applid. Acoustics. 70(5), 695-702.

M. T. Bin Ali, K. V. Horoshenkov and S. J. Tait (2011). Rapid detection of sewer defects and blockages using acoustic-based instrumentation. Water Science & Technology 64(8), pp 1700–1707 

Video - SewerBatt trials

Home > WaterR2B > Sectors > Water Utilities > How can sewer pipe blockages and breaks be identified quickly?

How can sewer pipe blockages and breaks be identified quickly?

The challenge

The UK sewer system totals some 300,000 km in length, with an estimated replacement value of £104bn. Maintenance and replacement programmes have focused on ‘critical sewers’ that make up 20% of the network. However, around 25,000 blockages occur each year in smaller diameter sewers that make up the bulk of the network, 13% of which result in internal property flooding.

CCTV techniques for monitoring smaller sewers are slow, expensive and subjective, and additional technologies to keep CCTV for where it is really needed, and/or a better alternative, is urgently required.

The solution

The SewerBatt™ inspection system uses acoustics to show, very quickly and accurately, what defects or breaks or blockages there may be in sewers and drainage pipes. The technology was initially developed by a team at the University of Bradford, led by Professor Kirill Horoshenkov and Professor Simon Tait (both now at Sheffield University) working with water industry expert, civil engineer Richard Long.

SewerBatt™ comprises a ruggedised electronic module with notebook, cables, software and an acoustic sensor. The acoustic sensor is inserted into a manhole and a sound wave is emitted for around ten seconds. The response is then recorded and analysed to provide an acoustic signature of the pipe, which can be used to locate blockages and structural defects, and also, if needed, other matters such as determining pipe length.

SewerBatt™ started life as a joint research project between Yorkshire Water’s Innovation Delivery Team and The University of Bradford around five years ago, and a prototype of the technology won The Royal Society’s Brian Mercer Award for Innovation, with a prize of £155,000

SewerBatt™ has now been  commercialised by Acoustic Sensing Technology (U.K.) Ltd,, a spinout company from the University of Bradford, with EU investment from the North West Fund managed by 350 Investment Partners. The system has been successfully trialled by water companies in the UK, Austria and Australia, and is already in use by Yorkshire Water. There are now further orders from several UK and overseas companies. 

Resulting benefits

The main practical advantage of this method over traditional inspection methods is the speed of measurement and the ability to measure from the manhole only. Acoustic surveys can be carried out by a single operator, as the equipment is lightweight and no man entry is ever required.

Patrick Killgallon of Yorkshire Water said
“the potential benefits of the SewerBatt for Yorkshire Water are to allow us to build on our existing surveying of the network to help productively reduce the number of escapes from the sewer network which either affect our customers or the environment.”

Future directions

Acoustic Sensing Technology (U.K.) Ltd. raised investment from The North West Fund for Energy & Environment.  Nick Hawkins, CEO of AST, said: “The funding will enable us to refine our existing product and bring more products to market over the next few years in the acoustic, water and other related fields.”

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