HOT|COOL NO. 1/2018 "Global District Energy Climate Awards"


By Michael Noer-Hvarre, CMO, Drone Systems ApS, Sune Yde Nielsen, CTO, Drone Systems ApS, Henrik Grosen, CEO, Drone Systems ApS

This has proved sufficient for digging directly to leaks or pipes with faulty insulation. It is no longer necessary to dig long trenches along a street to find a tricky leak. Less digging results in less pavement to re-establish and fewer frustrated neighbours.

Figure 1. Pipe leakage

Leaks Using drones makes it possible to safely and conveniently cover the entire network - right up to the exterior walls of all buildings, including areas in between high-rise building blocks, or “inaccessible” areas like bogs or water holes, or fenced in areas.

The use of slow, partial or semi-reliable data to map the state of district heating networks is coming to an end. Drones, a few years ago only buzzing in the imagination of innovative engineers, are now making a significant role for themselves in district energy network maintenance. The new solution offers the possibility of reduced heat losses, thus reducing CO2 emission. The district heating plant saves money by effectively minimizing losses of water and energy, and – at the same time – obtains a tool to create overview of the grid, enabling fact-based enhancement of repair and maintenance routines. The real benefactors, of course, are the customers receiving cheaper and more reliable heating. THE THERMAL IMAGES Significant leaks in the hot water pipes show up on the thermal images as bright spots for everyone to see. Smaller leaks and other hot spots (like potential leaks) have to be identified by a trained specialist in thermal image analysis. With drones, it is possible to identify leaks as small as 1 m3 per 24 hours.

Figure 2. Small pipe with a typical leak, located by a drone. The hole is only a few millimetres in diameter. But still the loss was 12 m3 p day

Typically, it is a small leakage that can run for years without it being found in the traditional way, and running up to 12 m3 per day. This often means a major loss over an entire year and costs a lot of money • Pr. day 12 m3 cost 84-120 € • Per year 4380 m3 30,660 – 43,800 € FLIGHT ROUTES To get optimal sets of data, flight routes are planned on the basis of existing maps of the district heating network. This is to ensure full coverage of all primary and secondary pipes, and to minimise the drone flight time.

Leaks and other hot spots are localized with a precision of 20-30 cm, depending on the circumstances.


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