Smart Water Network @ HKUST

What is the project?

The project revolves around the time-reversal technology, where waves are measured through sensors, reversed and sent back. The technology rapidly pinpoints and anticipates problems in the pipeline in a non-disruptive manner. As the wave refocuses on the source, it locates the defect. The project will showcase the time-reversal technology in an exposed and accessible section of the pipeline system in HKUST, acting as a pioneer of such a high frequency probing of live water, thus providing the ability to create high resolution images of the faults.

What is the problem this project is trying to address?

The numerous complicated labyrinths of pipelines in cities around the world are aging and becoming inefficient. Keeping in mind the wastage of water, leaks and bursts often result in economic losses, social disruption, and require expensive renewal strategies. The smart water initiative project is a step towards the timely diagnosis and mitigation of defects in pipelines, such that the large amounts of water and high costs of renewal and repair can be dealt with.

How does this project support our sustainable smart campus as a living lab vision?

Information about the aging and weakening of the pipes will be shared with FMO on a regular basis, allowing the university to cut costs on repair and management.  The technology will also be displayed to HKUST students and visitors educating them on the water loss and financial issues. The project will contribute to the vision of a living lab where students, professors and other departments can work together to explore the future of multi-sensor information fusion and new signal processing techniques. The project will also function as a laboratory exercise in some university courses. 

What's next?

The project is to be divided into five phases, beginning with the deployment of hydrophones in the pilot underground passage, then developing a real-time time-reversal technique, incorporating students through FYP and UROPs, developing case studies for student courses, and finally holding workshops to demonstrate the project by the first quarter of 2020.