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Homework Help: Designing experiment to detect pipe leakage using radiation.

  1. Jul 30, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Is there such experiment to detect pipe leakage using radiation? I have opted to use radio-isotopes conduct this experiment.

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution
    How do i go forward with designing this experiment, knowing that I can use radio-isotopes and a detector to detect the radiation released by the isotopes. The subject that is bugging me is writting out variables for the experiment.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2009 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF. Sounds kind of dangerous.... What is flowing in the pipe normally? Why would you not be concerned about contamination from the source of the radiation?
  4. Jul 30, 2009 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Must the radiation be inside the pipe? What if you mixed some fluorescent dye with the liquid inside the pipe and used a uv light (EM radiation) outside the pipe to see where the leak is?

    Much safer.
  5. Jul 30, 2009 #4
    If you are still planning to use a radioisotope there are two main things you need to consider.
    1.Safety(as has already been pointed out).What properties should the isotope have and what should its half life be?
    2.Penetrating power.The radiation from the water leak must reach the detector.Is the pipe underground or in another inacessible place?If so what type of radiation should the isotope emit?
  6. Aug 2, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the replies formost. Actually radiation contamination was my main concern in designing this experiment. Let me explain, im a student currently, and im doing some research on detecting pipe leakage using radiation. Im not actually conducting this experiment in the lab, rather, i just need to write out the experiment.

    Since the term radiation is too general, i think that using radio-isotopes for the experiment is much more simpler. I came to a conclusion that i will be using isotopes with alpha, beta and gamma ray respectively to determine the leakage in pipes. However, it does not relate much to the question which is design an experiment 'to' detect radiation and not the 'penetration power'. Im a bit in a dilemma here haha. But thanks for the suggestions given, i will see to it.

    Any other suggestions?
  7. Aug 2, 2009 #6
    This is what i have so far..do comment

    Title: Design a lab experiment to detect pipe leakage using radiation
    Objectives: Can pipe leakage be detected using radio-isotopes?
    Dependant Variable: Types of radioactive tracers
    Independent Variable: Count rate of detector
    Constant Variable: Amount of radioactive tracers and distance from ground to pipe
    Apparatus: Pipes and detector
  8. Aug 2, 2009 #7
    It depends on where the pipe is.If,for example it is underground then only gamma is likely to penetrate to the surface(depending on the pipe depth).As for safety, the activity should be low enough so as not to present any hazards.Also, the half life should be as short as possible but long enough to take the readings.Other things to consider are the toxicity of the isotope and its decay products.
    I think you need to do some research and may I suggest that you start by googling properties of alpha beta and gamma,radiation detectors and half life.
    your message above appeared as I was typing this
  9. Aug 2, 2009 #8


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    Homework Helper

    Radioisotopes are used all the time in medicine to image the body (PET scanning) and as tracers, so it's definitely possible to use radiation safely. Whether doing so for detecting leaks is easy or not, I have no idea.
  10. Aug 4, 2009 #9
    Thanks again for your suggestions, really appreciate it. Well i think i have most of the things figure out like isotopes, penetrating power and half-lifes. But the thing is now, wether the set-up of my experiment relates at all to the maic topic of the experiment. Because if im going to use radio-isotopes to detect leakage in pipe by comparing their penetrating power, wouldnt this experiment be way out of topic?

    I mean, the main topic is 'design an experiment to detect pipe leakage using experiment'. Im having difficulty in this part at most. Does the variables and my objectives stated earlier coincides with the main topic at hand?

    Either, way are there any other suggestions or other way rather then using radio-isotopes for this experiment? Like kuruman has stated
  11. Aug 4, 2009 #10


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    Staff: Mentor

    So what is the liquid in your pipes, anyway? What level of leak do you need to be able to detect?
  12. Aug 6, 2009 #11
    The liquid will be just normal water, trying to simulate a basic water pipe leakage. And then i will pass through some radio-isotopes into the pipe. The level of leak i would say depends on the type or radio-istopes with different properties, i.e radio-isotopes that emmits alpha, beta and gamma ray.
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