Daniel Raj David, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and co-founder of Detect Technologies, and his team at IIT-Madras, have developed a system designed to detect pipeline leakages.
The Guided Ultrasonic Monitoring of Pipe Systems, or Gumps, recently won the second prize at the India leg of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.
“The project started with Tarun Mishra, who was pursuing metallurgy at IIT, and Prof Krishnan Balasubramanian. They worked with a specific material that could maintain its ultrasonic waves and send signals through pipes. “If there is any crack and subsequent leakage, the signal is reflected back to us,” explained David. “The special thing about this equipment is the sensors maintain their ultrasonic properties even at temperatures of 350 degrees.”
The breakthrough, he explained, is that if you have high-temperature fluids flowing through pipes, as they do in the oil and gas industry, it becomes easy to detect leaks.
“When leaks take place, you can’t just shut down one pipeline — you have to shut down the whole unit. And when you do that, you lose crores of rupees, especially in big plants,” he explained.
While the duo was pondering over how to scale up their innovation, David joined the team. “The aim of the company was to make the entire process automated. We install the sensors once and, sitting here in this room, are able to see the state of a pipe located in, say, Jamnagar. The sensor installed there keeps sending signals. The interesting bit here is that cracks don’t appear all of a sudden. It takes time as the surface corrodes. While it is corroding, the signals, sent to the cloud, will also change, alerting both us and the client.”
“So, not only will we able to tell them exactly where the leakage is, we can also predict the leakage. It saves a lot of money,” he added. Reliance Industries evinced interest in the project, and funded the team with about ₹65 lakh for research and development. The IIT-M incubation cell invested about ₹10 lakh.
David is quite pumped up about Gumps. “We haven’t launched it yet, but when we do, it will be a breakthrough. Today, there are continuous monitoring systems and there are high-temperature systems. But there are no continuous high-temperature monitoring systems that are required in plants.”
The team has also come up with Noctua, a drone, and ScopeI, a robot. It is holding back on launching Gumps commercially. “We are offering trials to companies that we know. Once they see that it works, we will go in for a full market push,” David said.