A novel transient-based technique – the direct backward transient analysis (DBTA) – for leak location of single pressurized pipes is presented and tested using real-life data. A transient flow is generated in the pipe by closing the downstream end valve. The transient pressure signal is then measured only at the valve location. Using the method of characteristics and exploiting the measurements after full valve closure, the transient flow is backwardly analyzed by sweeping the pipe from the downstream to the upstream end. Knowing the upstream end heads, additional equations are developed to make the problem of leak detection determined and possible to be solved directly. A system of equations and unknown variables of leaks and flow specifications are then established and simultaneously solved together. Eventually, nodes with non-zero leak size are introduced as leaks. Finally, the method is applied to a real transmission pipeline, Lintrathen East Trunk Main Network at Scottish Water (Dundee, UK) and its abilities are investigated. The results show that the method is capable of dealing with real systems and is reliable, fast and easy to use.

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