Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

End to road works in the pipeline

Burst water pipe repairs
Yorkshire Water says roadworks could be a thing of the past by 2010

A water company is testing technology which allows pipes to be repaired from the inside without digging up the road.

Yorkshire Water says the new "platelet technology" seals leaks in pipes from the inside, mimicking the way platelets in blood seal wounds in the human body.

When platelet particles in the pipeline reach a leak, water flow guides them into the fault and they form a seal.

The company hopes the new method will help it eliminate the need for road excavations by 2010.

Yorkshire Water worked with technology firm Brinker, which originally developed the platelet concept for use in the oil and gas industries, to understand how it could be used in the water supply network.

It's unlike anything seen in the water industry before
Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water

Richard Flint, chief operating officer at Yorkshire Water, said: "It works on the natural science of platelets sealing cuts in the human body and it has potential to revolutionise the way leaks are repaired in Yorkshire and to reduce the need to dig holes in the road.

"We know our customers get most frustrated when they have their supplies interrupted or they are inconvenienced by road works and this technology has the potential to take all that away.

"The platelets work under pressure and travel along the water supply pipe to find the leak and seal it from the inside; it's unlike anything seen in the water industry before."

Simon Barnes, head of innovation at Yorkshire Water, said: "We are trialling the technology now to understand its potential to repair different types of bursts.

"Because its use does not require us to dig holes in the road to get to the leak, there are lots of benefits to be had in repairing difficult-to-access problems like those under busy railway lines or roads.

"It will bring the repair and maintenance of the water network into the 21st Century."

The inert platelets have passed stringent tests for materials that come into contact with drinking water to ensure they pose no risk to health, Yorkshire Water added.



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