There have been some rather high profile pipeline explosions in the United States over the last five years; natural gas lines and oil lines.
These things don’t blow up by themselves, and there is a tremendous amount of safety regulations and procedures to prevent such things from happening. Yes, events occur, there are accidents, and things happen; that we know, it’s a given. Okay so let’s talk for second shall we?
The trick is to prevent the leaks before they happen. Many cities have old water pipes and have constant water main breaks wasting tens of thousands of gallons before authorities even arrive to shut it down. Sometimes they break underground, and by the time we even learn about it hundreds of thousands of gallons have been lost, plus, foundations are compromised due to erosion. What if we could prevent all that? What if we could stop pipeline breaks altogether or make these unfortunate events a very uncommon occurrence in our civilization?
In reviewing an article in GizMag titled; “New system saves time and money in locating leaks in water pipes,” by Darren Quick published on August 7, 2012 and in the article their new device would use underground microphones with vibrational analyzing.
Now then, I propose the following using tunneling robotics, long-lasting sponge material, and their sound system as well. What we should do is send small tunneling robots paralleling the underground pipelines along four quadrants and behind these robotic tunnelers we put in an acoustic wire to capture the sound and vibrations while recording them, and then fill-up those small tunnels with a spongy foam which collects moisture, and works as a sound dampener. The spongy material would also help as the ground shifted, settled, or in the event of a major movement from an earthquake.
Is this possible you ask? Yes, I believe we have all the modern materials we need now, it is just a matter of putting them to work altogether along with this latest underground microphone system which was featured in the online technology magazine. If we could prevent underground corrosion by soaking up the moisture, along with rust inhibitors released into the soil, and then listen to the moaning sounds of pipeline fatigue we could very well prevent most all of the pipeline breaks.
Perhaps our pipeline infrastructure might last for several additional decades without replacement. At which time we might have new materials such as carbon nano tubes which are much stronger, more flexible, without all the challenges of the steel pipes already in the ground. Small autonomous tunneling robots would not be expensive, and following an underground pipeline would be very easy to do. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.