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Thread: A tough design challange - how to trace metal pipes
face BY : mike@whitewing.co.uk

A few thoughts : if the pipes are copper, you could probably get a very signifcant
local heating effect using  induction to directly heat the copper, and
detect a heat 'pulse' of the heated oil with a sensor further down the
line - detecting a relatively fast but very small temp rise should not
be too difficult - it may not  work on the whole  pipe run but might
be do-able in sections, and would depend on the oil flowrate
How about using RF - a long pipe run will have significant inductance,
so the effects of periodic grounding could be greatly reduced, and you
could probably trace from clamp to clamp pretty easily. Maybe you
could loosen the clamps during testing to reduce attenuation?

A high current impulse might also be worth a try, e.g. a capacitive
discharge, so you could use very high currents (hundreds of amps), but
the short time would avoid heating. Some this current would make it
through the probably less-than-perfect electrical contact at the
clamps and be detectable via magnetic field and/or voltage drop along
the pipe. Imagine passing, say  a 100 amp discharge  from the bearing end of the
pipe to the common  block, and sensing the voltage across a foot or
two of pipe at the block, or across the pipe-to-block couplings - you
could fairly easily detect a few microvolts, so I would imagine this
might work.

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Subject (change) A tough design challange - how to trace metal pipes

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