This project develops a new and unique obstacle detection sensor for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) equipment. The development of this new technology will greatly improve the reliability and safety of natural gas HDD construction practices. This sensor utilizes a differential soil impedance measurement technique that will be sensitive to the presence of plastic and ceramic, as well as metallic obstacles. The use of HDD equipment has risen significantly in the gas industry because HDD provides a much more cost-effective and less disruptive method for gas pipe installation than older, trenching methods. However, there have been isolated strikes of underground utilities by HDD equipment, which may have been avoided if methods were available to detect other underground obstacles when using HDD systems. GTI advisors from the gas industry have ranked the value of solving the obstacle detection problem as the most important research and development project for GTI to pursue using Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) funds available through its industry partner, GRI. GTI proposes to develop a prototype down-hole sensor system that is simple and compact. The sensor utilizes an impedance measurement technique that is sensitive to the presence of metallic or nonmetallic objects in the proximity of the HDD head. The system will use a simple sensor incorporated into the drill head. The impedance of the soil will be measured with a low frequency signal injected through the drill head itself. A pair of bridge type impedance sensors, mounted orthogonal to one another, is coupled to the soil. Inclusions in the soil will cause changes to the sensor balance distinguishable from homogeneous soil. The sensor will provide range and direction data for obstacles near the HDD head. The goal is to provide a simple, robust system that provides the information required to avoid obstacles. This must be done within the size and ruggedness constraints of the HDD equipment. Imaging obstacles is not within the scope of this work, as it would require a more elaborate sensor than is practical within the HDD head
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.