Application of Thermal Diagnostics in Pipeline Inspection  


In addition to water and liquid mixtures with solid particles, pipelines are also used to transport fluids such as different types of gases and liquids. In order to effectively operate long-distance piping systems for transportation of variable medium, thermographic pipeline inspections are extremely important. As there is a temperature difference between the transported media and the air surrounding it, use of thermal cameras can be extremely useful in pipeline inspection and maintenance. By applying thermal diagnostics in pipeline inspection, it is possible to find out defects as well as leaks in quick time with a high degree of accuracy.  

Use of thermodiagnostic tools can add value to a wide variety of systems including water mains, hot water piping, crude oil or gas piping, steam piping, power plants, agriculture, mines, food industry, chemical operating units, and more. In most of these systems, in addition to transporting materials, pipelines also supply heat energy to the medium that they transfer. The amount of this heat energy depends on the pipeline insulation, and can be determined by detecting the loss of pressure in the pipeline.  

The reliability of pipeline systems often suffers because of faulty design, improper material selection, defective construction of transport system, and unforeseen conditions arising during construction.  These factors can very easily lead to pipe breaks resulting in loss of the transported medium, leaks of heat energy, as well as weakening of cladding on the external insulation. Also, mechanical stressing and internal corrosion may lead to wear on the thickness of piping.   

As a result of the factors discussed above, pipelines require regular and thorough inspection. However, these inspections can sometimes be quite challenging. Many pipeline systems are located underground. Also, above ground pipelines located in areas with restricted access roads are difficult to inspect. Naturally, it is not possible for a human being to check every inch of piping visually.  

A simple yet effective solution to this problem is available in the form of a UAV equipped with a camera. These drones can fly above the entire length of the pipeline, displaying and recording the visuals in real time. The best part about this solution is that the inspectors receive a detailed overview of the pipeline condition from a remote location. However, if a traditional camera is used, only a small part of potential pipeline related defects will be detected. These cameras are only capable of detecting visible damage or leaks. Leaks formed below the ground and defects to internal heat insulation can’t be detected by traditional cameras. This is why thermal cameras are used in pipeline rehabilitation. .  

Thermal cameras are capable of finding out defects and recording the thermal radiation of the objects. Therefore, they can detect defects that are otherwise hidden. These cameras can find out the pipeline defects accurately by identifying the spot where heat loss takes place during the transfer of media. 

In the case of pipelines located underground, earth tends to get heated due to the penetration of hot water. This allows thermal cameras to detect the point where the pipeline defect is located. Therefore, it is no longer essential to excavate kilometres of pipelines for the detection of a single rupture.  

If you are looking for the most advanced pipeline inspection and rehabilitation tools in Australia, please get in touch with us at Austeck. We offer a wide range of products to make lives easier for you.