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Advances in Acoustics and Vibration
Volume 2012, Article ID 689379, 10 pages
Research Article

Microphone Arrays as a Leakage Detection Tool in Industrial Compressed Air Systems

Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Parsons Building, Dublin 2, Ireland

Received 27 April 2012; Revised 4 October 2012; Accepted 30 October 2012

Academic Editor: Arnaud Deraemaeker

Copyright © 2012 Petr Eret and Craig Meskell. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Compressed air energy is expensive, but common in industrial manufacturing plant. However, a significant part of the generated compressed air energy is lost due to leakage. Best practice requires ongoing leak detection and repair. Leak detection in the ultrasonic frequency range using handheld devices is possible only over short distances as associated high-frequency sound is rapidly attenuated by atmospheric absorption. Pressurized air escaping to ambience also generates frequencies below 20 kHz. In this paper beamforming—a well known method for generating noise maps—is tested as a tool for localization of compressed air leaks at larger distances in the audible frequency range. Advanced beamforming methods in both time domain (broadband) and frequency domain (narrowband) have been implemented in a variety of situations on a laboratory experimental rig with several open blows representing leakage in a noisy environment similar to a factory setting. Based on the results achieved it is concluded that the microphone array approach has the potential to be a robust leak identification tool. The experience gained here can also provide useful guidance to the practitioner.