First-Ever Pipe Bending Test Showcases 'Smart' Underground Infrastructure

Wireless systems for monitoring underground infrastructure - like utility pipelines - are difficult to test in the field, especially during rare and extreme events such as earthquakes. Cornell University researchers have set out to change that, by testing several advanced sensors - that collectively measure strain, temperature, movement, and leakage - developed at the University of California, Berkeley. The sensors were installed along a 40-foot section of a hazard-resilient pipeline being tested for earthquake fault-rupture performance. The pipeline was made by the company IPEX, using a special material engineered to stretch and compress as it withstands ground deformation similar to that occurring during extreme weather. The successful test was the first use of the advanced sensors for the purpose of monitoring buried infrastructure, and gave an unprecedented look at the pipe's ability to elongate and bend while being subject to ground failure.