Real-time Active Pipeline Integrity Detection (RAPID)

Structural Health Monitoring System Provides Early Detection of Natural Gas Pipeline Damage

Acellent Technologies, Inc


Sunnyvale, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The Acellent system was developed, tested, and validated in the selected gas pipeline industry sector, PG&E in San Ramon, California. Modules of diagnostic data acquisition hardware were developed, lab tested, and placed at scheduled intervals along the pipeline to collect and analyze signals from the sensor layer and transmit them to the back office in real-time. Visible and invisible damage in the pipeline structures were detected by the system, which provided operators with the location and magnitude of defects to facilitate effective mitigation actions.

The Issue

The primary materials used to construct natural gas pipelines are steel and plastic and are susceptible to premature aging and degradation. One of the leading causes of metallic pipeline failures is corrosion, whereas nonmetallic or composite pipelines are prone to cracking. The damage can be detected but requires extensive inspection. The pipeline inspection process can result in further damage from excavation equipment. There is no reliable, built-in, nondestructive method for determining if the damage is enough to affect operational safety. Existing methods require the pipeline to be shut down, resulting in revenue losses for the utility.

Project Innovation

Acellent Technologies, Inc. (Acellent) was selected and awarded a contract through a competitive solicitation to demonstrate a real-time active pipeline integrity detection (RAPID) system developed by Acellent. Acellent's structural health monitoring (SHM) technology utilizes a network of distributed piezoelectric sensors/actuators to monitor and evaluate the condition of a structure. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) coordinated closely with the Acellent team to develop the necessary system requirements and demonstrated the RAPID system within the PG&E pipeline network. This project used SHM technology to provide an early indication of any physical damage to the pipeline so it can be assessed with minimal labor involvement prior to a potential structural failure. The SHM technology consists of a network of distributed piezoelectric sensors/actuators embedded on a thin dielectric film that can be applied to new or existing pipelines.

Project Benefits

The system can be reliable and effective for early detection of pipeline damage, and the technology demonstrated effectiveness for in-field gas pipeline safety monitoring. This technology has the potential to improve the safety and integrity of the gas pipelines in California by providing a commercially viable plug-and-play, built-in structural health monitoring system that can be easily adapted to meet operator needs.

Lower Costs


Early damage detection using low cost technology will lower costs of gas pipeline operations and management.

Greater Reliability


Early and timely damage detection will improve reliability of gas pipelines in California.

Increase Safety


Early and timely damage detection and adequate measures to prevent pipeline failure will improve safety of gas pipelines in California.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Howard Chung


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