Air thermo-graphic inspection of pipelines mainly covers long distance pipe systems which are used to transfer various fluids with temperatures that are different from the ambient air temperature. Using thermo-graphic systems, we can identify and locate leaks and defects in the insulation of pipes and, in some cases, it is possible to identify and locate leaks in subsurface pipelines.
Some example of the marital that a pipeline can transfer are water pipelines (hot-water pipes, water pipes), steam pipelines (steam lines), product pipelines (oil or gas), pipelines in chemical operations such as, food industry, farming, electric power plants, mines, etc. Furthermore, in many cases pipelines are used not only to transport the material itself but also to transfer thermal energy bound to the fluid being transferred. This creates the issue of thermal insulation of the pipeline and determination of pressure loss within the pipeline. The entire transport system must be perfectly sealed as leaks not only cause loss of energy and money but can also create major environmental issues.
A classic camera does not detect defects in the pipelines insulation and fluid leaks that are underground. Being able to detect where insulation is thinned or where pipe casing is damaged early on, we can prevent major accidents which could cause economic losses and endanger the health and lives of people. Such defects can be detected by a thermal camera which scans for thermal radiation produced by objects. Based on temperature difference between the pipeline and surface and based on the experience of a professional, we can detect hidden defects. We can easily determine where insulation is damaged and where heat loss occurs (during transport of the heating fluid). In underground pipes, any leak of hot water also causes heating of the ground around it. Therefore, we can reveal where the pipeline is ruptured even below the ground. This means that there is no needed to dig kilometres of pipelines to detect the leak. A difference in temperature will reveal thin spots with risk of breaking the pipe; early intervention can prevent fatal consequences.
The Workswell WIRIS thermal imaging system for is designed to be mounted on a drone (UAV). The assembly is easy, the camera is light keeping the drone mobile and the system is fully controllable using a conventional RC driver. The system includes two camera systems – a camera for visible spectrum (checking visible defects of the pipeline) and a thermo-camera (detection of hidden defects). The controlling software allows remote switching of camera modes, shooting radiometric video or capturing static images in both the visible and infrared spectrums. An operator can see a video feed from the drone in real time. It is also possible to analyse recorded videos or saved images later to identify damaged areas.