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Transforming Pipeline Leak Detection Using Acoustics and Vibration


Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Thursday, April 01, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team: Dr Jen Muggleton

Project description

Acoustic methods predominate in the armoury of available leak detection methods. However, the effectiveness of conventional leak-noise correlators is very poor on trunk mains for a number of reasons, especially the lack of sufficiently closely spaced access points at which conventional sensors can be placed.

An alternative solution may be to exploit fine metal rods inserted into the soil, ideally such that one end of each rod touches the pipeline and the other is visible at the ground surface, where its response can be detected by traditional sensors, such as accelerometers or strain gauges. There are a number of potential advantages to this approach, including

• This method could provide many more closely-spaced sensing points for use with conventional detection equipment.
• Implementation is likely to be inexpensive;
• Deployment is likely to be relatively straightforward;
• The vibration attenuation in the rod will be significantly less than that in the soil, thus the signal received will be greater, increasing the chances of the detection of a leak.
The aim of this exciting and innovative project is to explore the effectiveness and the practicality of the rod method and compare it with current alternatives, particularly in relation to

• soil type
• pipeline parameters such as
o pipe material
o pipe diameter/wall thickness
o pipe depth

The project, undertaken with the support of UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) and the UK water companies, will be a balance of theoretical and experimental work. The theoretical work will comprise analytical and numerical modelling of elastic waves in the pipe, the proposed rod and in the ground. The experimental work will be undertaken on campus in the ISVR laboratories, at the University’s Future Towns Innovation Hub at Chilworth Science Park and at live test sites provided by UKWIR members.

The successful candidate will be part of a wider group within the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research seeking to meet the challenges of the UKWIR industry initiative ‘Zero Leakage 2050’

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Jen Muggleton, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, Email:

Entry Requirements
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in an engineering discipline, mathematics or physics

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 01 April 2021 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Jen Muggleton under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include:
Curriculum Vitae
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

For further information please contact:


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