Globally, at least 6.2 million miles of pipeline transport gas, oil, and chemicals to 700 refineries and to 24,500 power utility plants. Sixty percent of those pipelines are in the US. Due to the nature of pipeline transport, failure results in significant consequences. Since 1986, pipeline failures alone have spilled an average of 76,000 barrels per year, or more than 3 million gallons per year. Monetary losses due to fines, cleanups, and system shutdowns can approach $1M/day.
While elaborate systems exist to monitor the entire transport system, the monitoring system overall has systemic issues at the critical components – gaskets, seals, pipelines, and pressure vessels. Physical inspection of these critical components is periodic, labor-intensive, and unreliable. Emerging technologies addressing these issues are typically prohibitively expensive, require human operation, and have a limited inspection window and/or range.