How do detection dogs find pipeline leaks?
How does it work?
The science behind a dog’s nose
A dog’s nose is composed of turbinates. Turbinates are the spongy tissues along the long shelves of bone in the breathing passage of the nose. Part of what makes a detection dog great is the shape of their nose. A longer nose equates to a more complex network of turbinates. Therefore, you will see Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and labs commonly employed as pipeline leak detection dog. Their build paired with their workability and drive make them great candidates as leak detection experts.
Information gathered through the turbinates of the nose are received at the olfactory bulb. A dog's olfactory bulb is many times larger than a human's, about 44 times more! This puts a dog at over 220 million scent receptors.
How does this apply to pipeline leak detection?
As an examples, when you inhale the scent of a fresh baked pizza, you register a cocktail of odors melded into one unifying aroma you identify as 'pizza'. When a dog inhales the same scent, they identify each individual ingredient down to the yeast used in the dough.
Applying this to pipeline leak detection- when a novel odor is injected into a line (buried or above ground), a properly trained pipeline leak detection dog will detect on one odor. Therefore, no matter what material has been in the pipe, the dog detector can identify the individual scent they have been trained to locate and pinpoint. A canine trained to detect on a novel odor verses hydrocarbons can decreases the margin of error. Properly trained pipeline leak detection dogs have been tested and proven to be accurate at a range between 96%-99%.
In field trials conducted by Exxon Mobil, pipeline leak detection dogs identified pinhole leaks in lines as deep as 12 feet in conditions including dense clay with essentially perfect accuracy. Minor leaks in valves were also identified by canine leak detectors.
Dogs vs conventional methods
There are more than thirty different methods known for leak detection and each with their own degree of success, but none have shown the ability to consistently and precisely locate micro leaks in pipelines above or below ground. In many scenarios, below ground lines are identified as leaking only after a large amount of product has been lost (loss in pressure has been identified). At this point, a large economical cost has already been incurred in relation to lost product. In addition, costs incurred in remediation of company image and pollution control can likely be expect.
Conventional instrumentation such as gas chromatography simply lack the sensitivity to detect low concentrations of odorant at ground level. Lack of precision increases costs in equipment and manpower needed to excavate a generalized area. A leak detector dog operates at parts per trillion. This is an operating system that is still unsurpassed by modern technology in regard to sensitivity and precision.
Detector Dogs and Integrity management
Canine pipeline leak detection specializes in damage prevention services that can identify micro/pinhole leaks before other technologies. The use of dog detectors in maintenance programs is growing as the capabilities of leak detection canines gain more success and positive recognition with pipeline companies and the media.
K9 Pipe Inspections, LLC is a canine pipeline leak detection company offering leak detection services for oil and gas companies. Our leak detection services can be used on oil or gas pipelines and a 24/7 emergency response phone line is available. Time is money, and we are here to help you get operating as quickly as possible.
KPI services can be used on in service lines. Dog detectors can also be used in conjunction with hydrostatic pressure testing or in-line services. K9 Pipe Inspections also offers maintenance packages for proactive action in your integrity management program.
For more information contact:
Owner/K9 Pipe Inspections, LLC