Wireless sensing technologies advancing pipeline monitoring sector: Frost & Sullivan

The need to manage the serviceability and stability of an aging pipeline infrastructure is driving the adoption of smart sensors in the oil and gas pipeline monitoring market, says Frost & Sullivan.

Advanced sensing systems that leverage new technologies such as wireless sensing, energy harvesting, smart materials, embedded electronic computing, miniaturization, robotic systems and Big Data analytics intelligence can increase return on investment, reduce down time and improve public safety, according to a Frost & Sullivan study, Sensors for Oil and Gas Pipeline Monitoring. The study evaluates advances in sensing technologies and their impact on the oil and gas pipeline industry in the near, medium, and long terms.

"Wireless sensors are emerging as one of the strongest options for pipeline monitoring applications,” Varun Babu, Frost & Sullivan TechVision research analyst, said in a statement. “With the adoption of wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, on-board computational sensing and wireless communication capabilities, the quality of monitoring will significantly improve.

“The WSN sensor nodes and algorithms can provide rich information for detection, location and assessment of structural damage caused by severe loading events and progressive environmental deterioration. WSNs can also monitor more data points and be reconfigured more easily than wired sensors," Babu said.

Cost is a key issue that hampers the adoption of any new technology. However, funding support by government agencies and venture capitalists is expected to accelerate the commercialization of prototypes, Frost & Sullivan said.

Innovative products from key players include:

• Ultrasound imaging technology to achieve a 3D image with high resolution of horizontal wells by Vancouver-based DarkVision Technologies Inc;

• Autonomous drones comprising of sensor fusion, computer vision and machine learning technology to perform complex tasks, developed by Israel’s Percepto;

• Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems by Sky-Future, United Kingdom, that can include visible or thermal imaging systems for high-definition monitoring and inspection of internal tanks;

• Advanced oil and gas pipeline security system PipeGuard by Magal S3, Israel, which enables pipeline owners to effectively fight against terrorism, theft and third-party damage; and

• Airborne remote gas sensing technologies for detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines by Synodon Inc.

"Innovators and start-ups should partner with device manufacturers to develop specific solutions," added Jabez Mendelson, Frost & Sullivan TechVision senior research analyst. "With the lack of an established technology ecosystem, there is a need for close cooperation between device developers, material suppliers, equipment vendors and foundries to develop common standards to facilitate reliable production processes."

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