Engineers at Loughborough University helped Severn Trent Water and Echologics launch new technology that quickly and cost-effectively pinpoints underground leaks. It has the potential to save up to £5m pa, in the UK alone and international interest is growing.

Water-LeakTypically, more than three billion litres are lost each day as a result of leaking pipes. Severn Trent Water (STW) alone spends millions of pounds addressing the problem – but existing equipment is unable to detect leaks in plastic water pipes with any accuracy or consistency.

Ten years ago, STW partnered Loughborough to develop an improved technique to help them meet regulatory repair targets and save money.

Having established the characteristics of noise generated by leaking plastic pipes, extensive testing took place in bespoke test pipe systems in Loughborough laboratories and at STW’s Lake House leak location training facility.

Understanding the characteristics of leaks allowed the Loughborough team to design better instrumentation to find them. A prototype leak detection system was developed which, after rigorous field testing, demonstrated greater speed and accuracy than conventional products.

The patent for the new technology – authored by Loughborough and owned by STW – has been granted in countries world-wide. The IP was licensed by STW to Echologics to incorporate Loughborough’s research in their next generation of leak detection products.

LeakfinderST was launched worldwide in May 2014.
Image credits: Andy Weekes

Image Credit: Andy Weekeslease credit: Andy Weekes