In Germany, Europe’s largest refinery location, more than 2400 km of crude oil pipelines connect refineries, ports, and storage facilities. High pressure ensures the efficient transport of oil through these pipelines, but this puts the pipeline’s material under stress. In addition to corrosion, pipe bends or weld seams are weak points in the pipelines and are particularly susceptible to leaking. To prevent environmental damage from leaks, pipeline providers carry out pressure and flow tests or wall thickness measurements by robots (aka pigs). These complex procedures usually involve an interruption of regular operations and are only performed occasionally because of the resulting loss of profit. So far, aerial monitoring of soil discoloration due to oil leakage by airplane or helicopter has only been carried out visually.
The ZIM-funded project »Hyperspectral Oil Leak Detection HYPOD« aims to record both optical image data with a high spatial resolution and aerial images with a high spectral resolution (hyperspectral) by an aerial sensor platform. An automated, sensor-based evaluation in real-time ensures early and reliable detection of leaks, which supports or even replaces a purely visual and, therefore, error-prone evaluation. The underlying measuring principle is detecting the material-specific reflection behavior of crude oil on the earth's surface and the suppression of false alarms by other oil-bearing products, such as plastics.