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Postgraduate research project

Robust acoustic leak detection in water pipes using contact sound guides

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Would you like to help the UK eliminate leakage-related water loss? We’re offering a 3.5-year fully funded PhD, developing contact underground sound guides to overcome the limitations of closely spaced access points.

Leakages from pipes pose a significant environmental, economic and health problem in the water industry. The UK is determined to tackle this problem so has recently set up the Zero Leakage 2050 initiative. Conventional acoustic leak detection methods are limited as they rely on attaching sensors to closely spaced access points, like hydrants. This limitation could be overcome by developing a sound-guiding technique based on fine metal rods inserted into the ground until they reach the pipeline. The low cost and ease of this method make it attractive for the leak detection industry.

This project will focus on laying theoretical foundations and developing practical recommendations for the detection of leaks guided by sound. You’ll examine the physics of waves across interfaces and propose suitable signal processing to optimise detection performance and address practical implementation issues. As well as gaining skills in physics, mechanics, sensing, processing and experimentation, you'll make a valuable contribution to an untapped field of research.

You’ll work in the Dynamics Group of the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at Southampton. ISVR is at the forefront of leak detection research and shows steady growth in this area. You will be a part of the Sustainable Infrastructure and Cities Centre for Doctoral Training which includes multi-disciplinary researchers from across the entire faculty. The experimental work will be conducted at ISVR labs, the Future Towns Innovation Hub at Chilworth Science Park, and live industrial test sites.

The project is funded by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), the water industry research procurement body in the UK.