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RSK develops innovative leak detection solution

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Cheshire-headquartered environmental consulting and services firm RSK has developed a leak detection method for underground pipework which utilises ground penetrating radar (GPR). The firm has entered the concept into Transport for London’s RoadLab competition, which is looking for innovative solutions to reduce the impacts of roadworks in the city.

On average c1,500 water leaks are fixed weekly in the Thames region alone. However, up to one in five holes dug do not correctly find the leak. GPR uses radar pulses to create an image of the subsurface. RSK believes using technique, in combination with existing acoustic technology, could reduce the number of unnecessary holes and roadworks required to fix broken pipes below ground.

GPR is already widely used in geophysical surveys to support street works by detecting the location of buried infrastructure. RSK has trialled the method with a number of water companies, with research to date suggesting hidden water leaks can be successfully detected in certain conditions. However, the technology has yet to be tested in a complex urban environment.

Innovation lead and RSK principal geophysicist Matt Stringfellow commented: "If we can isolate the location of water leaks in such environments, it will offer a step change in helping to reduce water leakage."

Earlier this week the firm made its twelfth and final acquisition during the 2018/2019 financial year, investing in supply and engineering company Drilling Supplies & Hire Services. The 13-strong firm is based in the North East of England serves the UK’s site investigation, geothermal and water well markets. The addition means RSK now employs over 3,000 staff in more than 100 offices worldwide.

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