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Rapid acoustic screening for blockages and deterioration in sewer networks

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Case Studies

The Challenge

In most developed countries, wastewater management is achieved via the use of a large, underground network of intersecting pipelines and, without regular inspection and maintenance, these networks can rapidly fall into disrepair, with pipelines becoming either partially or completely blocked due to cave-ins, tree root ingress or simply the accumulation of solid components from the media flowing through the pipes, e.g. silt deposits or the growth of fat-bergs.

All of the above scenarios can lead to flooding and, therefore, potentially have severe consequences for the asset holder including, but not limited to, loss of reputation, incurred responsibility for property damage, legal action and high financial penalties.

Current preventative measures include CCTV inspection combined with water jetting, both of which are time consuming and extremely costly.

The Solution

Tellus Utilities have developed an acoustic system, The ORCA (Obstruction Recognition and Condition Assessment), that can identify the existence, location and even the size of a blockage, in air (gas) filled pipelines.


  • Operates in air or gas filled conduits.
  • Advanced signal processing algorithms.
  • Ability to design acoustic signals to optimise use for conduits of different sizes, from small sewers up to train tunnels.
  • Long range surveying capability.
  • Time lapse comparisons.
  • Silt profile calculations.
  • Highly accurate detection of blockage location.
  • Fully submersible.

Any inherent features of the pipeline, i.e. manhole chambers, laterals etc., will result in a reflection, which will travel back towards the ORCA and be recorded by the sensor. The ORCA software will then identify the location of said features or blockages with near centimetric precision, allowing for the mapping of pipeline features and the detection of any unwanted blockages within the network.

The average time taken to position the device, acquire the data and analyse the results is 10 minutes, and the achievable measurement range is of the order of 300m from one location, depending on the condition of the pipeline.

  • Waste and potable water.
  • Volume of sediment in drains.
  • Highways.
  • Gas distribution networks.
  • Rail.
  • Underground mine tunnels – detection of collapse.
  • Military.
  • Security.

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For more information and pricing please get in touch.

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