Major projects

Pipeline Monitoring Using Acoustic Pulse Reflectometry

Development of acoustic tools that are able to survey pipelines with lengths up to 25 km

Blockages in pipelines and tubes are a considerable problem for companies in a variety of industries, particularly oil & gas companies who operate pipelines in remote and subsea locations.

Research at the University of Manchester has led to the development of two acoustic tools that are able to survey pipelines with lengths ranging from 1 m to 25 km.

The patented techniques, now commercialised by Circor Energy and Phoenix Inspection Systems Ltd, have been successfully used in industry.

Project aims

The aim of the research has been to develop non-invasive techniques that are able to quickly and accurately detect and locate features, such as holes and blockages in industrial pipelines.


  • High pressure gas pipelines: The Acoustek system has been developed to detect blockages in pipelines with lengths of up to 25 km. The technique has been used successfully by BP and other oil & gas companies to detect blockages in offshore and onshore gas pipelines.
  • Heat exchanger tubing: An acoustic tool, the Acoustic Ranger 6000, has been developed which detects holes, blockages and corrosion effects in heat exchanger tubing. The AR6000 is being commercialised by Phoenix Inspection Systems Ltd.

Future development

Current research is investigating the ability of using acoustic technology to survey large networks of gas pipelines.


  • Wang, X, Lewis, KM, Papadopoulou, KA, Lennox, B and Turner, JT, (2012), ‘Detection of hydrate and other blockages in gas pipelines using acoustic reflectometry’, IMechE Part C, Mechanical Engineering Science, 226 (7), 1800-1810,  doi:10.1177/0954406211431029
  • Papadopoulou, K, Wang, X, Lennox, B, Turner, J, (2008), ‘An evaluation of acoustic reflectometry for leakage and blockage detection’, IMechE Part C, Mechanical Engineering Science, 222 (6), 959-966, doi: 10.1243/09544062JMES873


Academic staff: Prof Barry Lennox, Dr Keir Groves

Research students: Miss Linan Tao, Mr Omar Aldughayem

Please contact staff for further details of current research.

Industrial partners

BP Exploration, Phoenix Inspection Systems, Circor Energy, Energy Innovation Centre 

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