The UK water industry is losing more than £1 Billion of fresh drinking water every year. A quarter of all our drinking water is lost before it reaches the nation’s taps. But that’s not even the scariest part.
The UK is running out of water, and Southern England’s boreholes could run dry before the end of the decade. The water industry desperately needs a way of finding the hidden leaks and identifying areas of weakness in its transmission network before more water is wasted.
Fortunately, the foundation of a solution lies within the oil and gas industry, where the integrity of hydrocarbon transport pipelines has long been a key area of focus.
Over the last ten years, LYTT has developed a leak detection and condition-based monitoring technology that pinpoints and predicts leaks in oil and gas pipelines. The solution transforms fibre-optic cables into arrays of microscopic microphones, and by using a patented acoustic signal processing technique, LYTT analyses backscattered-light, generated by laser pulses, to locate hidden leaks and predict future catastrophic bursts.
The UK has one of the largest subsurface fibre-optic networks in the world, and it is constantly being expanded. Openreach has committed to delivering fibre-optic broadband (FTTP) into 25 million homes in the UK by December 2026.
By combining LYTT’s industrially proven leak detection platform and the UK’s fibre-optic telecoms network, there is a unique opportunity to create a truly groundbreaking technology. By delivering just a 5% improvement in reaction time in locating new leaks, LYTT’s water solution can deliver between £120 million and £260 million in savings every year.
LYTT’s technology can transform the full-fibre telecoms network into a nationwide grid of 10 billion leak detection sensors. It can provide unprecedented monitoring of the entire water transmission network by illuminating the subsurface and examining every metre of metal, plastic, and cement pipe, hunting for hidden leaks and potential future bursts.
LYTT has solved a series of technical challenges that have enabled the product to be commercialized. Still the most significant is handling the mind-blowing volumes of data generated by the 10 billion acoustic sensors and the unique ability to pinpoint the tiniest leak signature from the incessant background noise generated by today’s suburban infrastructure.
Years of laboratory research have resulted in a patented acoustic feature extraction method that reduces data volumes by three orders of magnitude without losing the acoustic fidelity and an unparalleled database of the singular attributes that describe each leak type and their acoustic signatures.
By solving these challenges, LYTT’s solution can be implemented at a national scale, with a clearly understood return on investment for the water industry.
LYTT’s solution, by design, is scalable and can monitor hundreds of kilometres of water pipes from a single access point. For example, London’s 20,000km water pipe network can be monitored from just 80 access points. Its zero maintenance requirements make the solution extremely attractive compared to the battery-powered sensors the water industry relies on today.
The value of LYTT’s technology and the volumes of water it will save will continuously increase as the technology matures. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine learning models have been trained using data from the oil and gas pipelines for the last decade. They will continue to self-learn and improve as more data is acquired and labelled from the vast water pipeline network.
The technology can also integrate and cross-reference data from the existing leak sensor network. As LYTT’s solution is installed, the water industry will be able to reduce the reliance on these legacy leak monitoring systems and dramatically reduce their operating expense cost base while increasing water savings for their customers.
In the future, the technology’s ability to monitor the UK’s entire subsurface infrastructure promises to provide insights into more assets of national strategic importance, such as the gas and electricity transmission networks and the transport networks.
This truly remarkable technology has the potential to fundamentally change how the UK (and many other countries) manages and optimizes its critical infrastructure performance over the next decade.