Peruvian researchers present early detection system for oil pipeline spills


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By : Dr. Franyi Sarmiento, Ph.D., Inspenet, March 4, 2022.

Researchers from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) developed an early detection system for spills in large pipelines, with the aim of avoiding risks and damages, both for people and the environment.

Dr. Javier Sotomayor, a professor in the Department of Engineering, is the principal investigator of the development of this system, based on computational resources, that is, on software. This technology seeks to guarantee early detection with a precise location, using a sensitive and timely system in the event of leaks, preventing hydrocarbon spills.

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“The technique we are using is that of a distributed detection system, which consists of having local diagnosticians along the pipeline. It is a new technique, which does not require that the information go to a central office and it makes the decision, but that the spill notification be made locally, through this architecture that we have proposed and that can be implemented in a system of supervision”, explained Dr. Javier Sotomayor, professor of the Department of Engineering of the PUCP and principal investigator of the project co-financed by Prociencia and the World Bank.

It is important to mention that there are three types of causes for spills to be generated: due to corrosion, due to some failure in the connection and due to human intervention. That is why the researchers have designed exclusive spill detection software that works continuously. In addition, this project is not only designed for oil pipelines, but can also be applicable to other types of systems, such as gas pipelines.

“When it comes to oil pipelines with an activity of more than 15 to 20 years, statistically two spills a year occur. Ideally, these spills are detected on time and that their damage is minimal, for this reason these systems are very useful,” Sotomayor stressed. Currently, there are trends and contingency plans that guarantee the safety of the processes, for which reason a single detection system is not expected, but rather they have more than one fault detection diagnosis system that allows them to be resolved on time.

“The consequence of an oil spill affects and damages the environment, and can lead to the loss of material,” the researcher emphasized.

This project received funding from the National Council for Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC) through the National Program for Scientific Research and Advanced Studies (ProCiencia), with the support of the World Bank.

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