Quest For Innovation At The Trenchless Technology Center

November 2012, Vol. 67, No. 11
Figure 3. FutureScan module in deployment

FutureScan is an innovative in-pipe radar system that utilizes state-of-the-art electronics to generate extremely short electromagnetic pulses over a range of frequencies in the GHz range, enabling the user to image through solid surfaces, such as reinforced concrete, asbestos cement and clay pipe walls. Mounted on a robotic transporter, this in-pipe penetrating radar sends out signals in near real time that pass through the pipe wall and into the soil surrounding it. The reflections of these radar signals are then used to dimensionalize the pipe, i.e., to paint a picture of the pipe’s conditions similar to the way an MRI can depict the human body. The data captured can then be processed to provide information about the anomalies within and outside of the pipe wall, including the potential presence of anomalies, soil voids, external corrosion, defective joints and more. An image of the FutureScan is given in Figure 3.

In early August of 2012, following years of intensive research and development effort, funded partially by the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST), and performed by a joint dedicated research team consisting of Cues, a world leader in the manufacturing of CCTV and other pipeline inspection platforms, and TTC technical staff members, the first full-scale field demonstrations of the FutureScan technology took place. A total of 1,500 linear feet of pipes were inspected in the city of Slidell, LA, and an additional 500 feet of pipe were inspected in the city of Shreveport, LA. The demonstrations covered a range of pipe materials and geometries, from 18-inch circular VCP, through 24-, 30- and 42-inch circular reinforced concrete pipe, to 32 by 60-inch reinforced concrete arch pipe. Data can be collected at speed of 30-feet per minute, and radar images can be viewed both in real time and in a post-processing mode. CCTV images are collected during the radar inspection, corroborating the radar data observations made from the CCTV images. The raw radar data is exported into signal processing algorithms that extract the desired information and present it in a visual format.