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Case Study

Pipeline leak detection

> Leak detection > Pipeline integrity

The challenge
To provide natural gas storage in Rdersdorf (North East Berlin), detect small temperature anomalies in its vicinity, which could
four underground salt caverns were formed using high pressure signify a leak. The performance criteria set were that the system
hot water injection. The resulting brine (water saturated with would monitor the pipeline along its 55 km with 10C accuracy
salt at 300 kg/m3) was transported by buried pipeline to a point in less than 10 minutes, capable of detecting a 0.5 liter/minute
where it is processed, 55 km away. Brine is very corrosive and leak.
pollution would occur if a leak, particularly a small one, went
unnoticed until the visible signs (dead vegetation) or physical
signs (product loss) became apparent. A system was required
which would monitor the pipeline continuously in real time and

Case Study

The solution
The Omnisens Fiber Optic Distributed Sensing System was Trials showed the temperature in the vicinity of the leak evolves in
selected by GESO (, a consultant engineer to two steps. When the leak occurred, a local temperature increase
EWE AG for the project, as fulfilling the monitoring requirements. was observed and in this case was measured to increase at a

REF: CS-001 (Pipeline Brine Berlin - Leakage Detection System) en-03

rate of 3K/min. Then the temperature increase spread laterally
The temperature of the brine pumped into the glass reinforced at a speed of 0.5 m/min. The processing of the temperature
plastic pipeline at Rdersdorf was 35C. At normal flow rate the profiles uses this two-stage evolution to differentiate a leak from
temperature gradient along the whole pipeline length is about 8C. normal daily temperature variations. It has been demonstrated
The pipeline is buried at least 2 m deep, so seasonal temperature that the technique is able to detect leaks as small as 50 ml/min
variations are small, with an average soil temperature of 5C. A in the case of brine.
temperature increase around the pipeline, even at low flow rates,
is enough to signal an incipient leak.
The Omnisens DITEST system has a range of 50 km, however Result
due to the loss from the large number of fiber splices in the The pipeline was put into operation in January 2003, and in
optical fiber sensor cable, two interrogators were installed, July the first leak, (caused by excavation work in the vicinity
each monitoring half of the distance to ensure the performance of the pipeline) was detected by the monitoring system. The
required. development of the leak and its effect on the temperature
profiles are shown below.

The local temperature increase due to the leak is measured as

8C. An alarm was immediately and automatically triggered and
the flow was stopped.

Fiber optic cable for sensing and communications is installed

10 cm below the pipe.
During construction, the fiber cable was installed in the trench
and buried some 10 cm below the pipeline. The position of the Conclusion
cable with respect to the pipeline is important in order to ensure The ability of Omnisens DITEST to detect a small leak, avoiding
that all leakages are detected. There is a trade-off in its position further environmental damage was demonstrated on this pipeline
between the ability to detect the maximum temperature change under commercial conditions. The systems ability to provide
experienced when a leak occurs, and the ability to detect every continuous, on-line reliable leak detection for pipelines, with no
leak, wherever it occurs in the tubes circumference. dead zones and no false alarms makes it ideal for inclusion in
The central computer located in the control room in Rdersdorf pipeline integrity management programs.
communicates with the DITEST interrogators through an optical
LAN using available fibers in the sensing cable. The temperature
profiles measured by both DITEST interrogators are transmitted Leakage detection using fiber optics distributed
and further processed for leak detection. Dedicated software temperature monitoring
runs continuously on the central computer and controls the Proceedings of the 11th SPIE Annual International Symposium on
monitoring system. It detects leaks by comparing recorded Smart Structures and Materials. 2004, San Diego, USA.
temperature profiles, looking for abnormal temperature events Marc Nikles, Bernhard Vogel, Fabien Briffod, Stephan Grosswig,
and generating an alarm when a leak is detected. Florian Sauser, Steffen Luebbecke, Andr Bals, Thomas Pfeiffer

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