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The HKUST Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab (SSC) aims to transform the HKUST campus in a platform for learning and experiencing new approaches, ideas, and technologies developed by HKUST students and faculty.

The goal of the Smart Water Network at HKUST is to create and showcase the transient-based defect detection methods and time-reversal technology developed by the Smart UWSS. Several access points are created all over the campus for system implementation and data collection.

Essence of Transient-based Defect Detection Methods

Transient waves propagating in a fully pressurized pipeline are influenced by any change in its pipeline condition (material, diameter) and/or by the presence of a defect (leak, blockage) in the pipeline. Therefore, the tenet of Transient-based Defect detection Methods (TBDDMs) is that a measured transient wave signal in a fluid conduit is modified by, and thus, contains information pertaining to the conduit’s properties and its state. The transient wave signal can be understood effectively as a “moving probe” (Xu & Karney, 2017) that propagates inside a conduit at high speed (order of 1400m/s for pure water and ranges from ~ 100m/s to 1000m/s for sewage), requiring only a few seconds to inspect several kilometers of pressurized pipelines.

Once the transient wave signal is recorded, different techniques may be used to analyze the transient pressure signal and to extract insightful information about the condition of the pipeline, such as the type of defect and its possible location.

Initially, low-frequency probing waves are used to expose zones in the water distribution system with potential problems. In a later stage, high-frequency probing waves are employed to provide a higher resolution image of the system's condition.

Watch the video above to have a better understanding of how TBDDM works. 

Access points implementation

The successful application of TBDDM relies heavily on the acquisition of transient waves in water pipelines. On the other hand, water distribution pipelines are buried infrastructures with restricted accessibility, which limits the installation of sensing devices and the acquisition of satisfactory pressure records.

To overcome the common accessibility impediment, the Smart UWSS team has already created several access points around the HKUST campus. Below are some examples.

Check the galleries below to see how our access points have evolved over time.


Web app development and implementation

A web app has been developed for remote control of wave generators and data monitoring. The data is synchronized using GPS modules and uploaded to the cloud through 4G network. In addition, the web app allows for active and passive testing. Different techniques can be selected and used including time-reversal methods.

Students learning activities

The Smart Water Network project has engaged both undergraduate and graduate students in different learning activities.

HKUST GZ campus

Following the implementation of the Smart Water Network at the HKUST campus in Hong Kong, our project was one of the four SSC projects selected to be extended to the new HKUST GZ.  

We worked closely together with the GZ campus project manager and engineers to design the access points to the water distribution system. It is a unique opportunity to plan and ensure that the system will be fully accessible. Over 70 access points are designed to accommodate different measurement devices and future technologies including but not limited to defect detection and water quality assessment technologies.

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