Processing

Please wait...

Settings

Settings

Goto Application

1. WO2016001640 - CONDUCTING MESH

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

Conducting Mesh

This invention relates to a conductive mesh, particularly, but not limited to, a conductive mesh for use in a system for monitoring integrity of a geomembrane.

Various methods of electronic leak detection and location have been disclosed previously. Some of the methods involve the use of a highly resistive plastic geomembrane being installed with electric poles at either side of the membrane. When a fault occurs in the geomembrane an electric connection occurs, which is detected as a current flow.

In a more sophisticated system, as described in EP0962754, often referred to as a fixed or permanent leak detection system, a network/grid of point sensors is installed on the geomembrane to allow for more accurate detection of a leak. For example, sensors may be spaced on a grid of approximately 3 m x 3 m, which spacing can lead to a sensitivity of approximately 300 mm. Other grid spacings are possible, for example at intervals of between 3 and 10 metres. In this installation the sensors are located on one side of the geomembrane, leaks through the geomembrane are then detectable.

A further improvement of this type of system is to use two layers of membrane with the sensors and a conductive geotextile being located between the two layers of geomembrane and source electrodes being located outside the two layers of geomembrane in the earth or covering above and below the two geomembranes. The use of two membranes with sensors and conductive textile in between allows an alarm type of detection and location system to be provided, because the sensors are isolated from currents within the material being retained by the geomembrane and also from stray or environmental currents in the earth outside the geomembrane. Thus, when a leak does occur and the moisture leaks into the space between the two geomembranes this allows the electrical signal current to flow with the moisture into the encapsulated conductive textile between the two layers of membrane, the point sensors can detect the increase in current, allowing an alarm condition to be raised if a suitable monitoring system is installed and connected to the point sensors. Such systems exist for both online / permanent monitoring of membrane with suitable monitoring equipment being installed permanently on site and offline systems where only connectors are installed on site requiring power sources and testing equipment to be brought to site in order to test the installed point sensor system manually.

In this prior art system, the conductive geotextile located between the membranes is generally delicate, and can be difficult to install without breaking. Furthermore, the nature of the conductive geotextile means that outdoor installation is susceptible to being complicated by adverse weather conditions. For example, the conductive geotextile may be blown around in the wind.

Additionally, the conductive geotextile is often provided as a layer, having a conductive metal wire layer disposed between two non-conductive but porous layers which solely act to protect and carry the metal wire layer. In order to connect a sheet of conductive geotextile with another adjacent sheet of conductive geotextile during the installation, the three layers must be separated at the edge of the sheet to expose the metal wire layer, which is then brought into contact with the exposed metal wire layer of the adjacent sheet. This process is complex and time consuming.

It is an object of the present invention to address the abovementioned disadvantages.

According to the present invention there is provided an apparatus and method as set forth in the appended claims. Other features of the invention will be apparent from the dependent claims, and the description which follows.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a conductive mesh for a leak detection system formed from single conductive layer.

The material of the mesh itself advantageously provides conductivity to the grid and has the inherent strength to avoid the necessity for carrier textiles and thereby avoids installation problems associated with certain weather conditions.

The conductive mesh may comprise a plurality of first members and a plurality of second members, wherein the first and second members form a grid. The grid may be formed by crossing first and second members being held together. The members may be held together by a welded joint. The members may be held together by tying means.

The conductive mesh may comprise plastics materials, such as, but not limited to, polyethylene.

The conductive mesh may comprise carbon, preferably mixed in with the plastics material.

According to an aspect of the invention there is provided a leak detection system comprising at least one geomembrane, at least one conducting mesh, an electrical source and at least two electrodes.

According to an aspect of the present invention there is provided a geomembrane incorporating a conductive mesh.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of forming a conductive mesh wherein the method comprises:

extruding a plurality of first and second members;

arranging the first and second members in a grid, and

connecting the plurality of first and second members using a plurality of fastening means.

The method may further comprise mixing carbon into a molten plastics material to be extruded.

The extruding may comprise extruding the plurality of first and second members from the molten plastics material comprising carbon.

The carbon may be in the form of granules or powder.

The quantity of carbon may be varied depending upon the particular use intended for the conductive mesh.

The fastening means may comprise a plastic extrusion weld.

The fastening means may comprise a plastic fusion weld.

The fastening means may comprise a zip tie or other mechanical fastener.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of installing a plurality of sheets of conductive mesh adjacent to each other, the method comprising:

laying a first sheet;

laying a second sheet adjacent to the first sheet, and

connecting the first and second sheets using a fastening means.

The fastening means may comprise a plastic extrusion weld.

The fastening means may comprise a plastic fusion weld.

The fastening means may comprise a zip tie or other mechanical fastener.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of installing a plurality of sheets of geomembrane, wherein each geomembrane comprises a pre-attached conductive mesh, the method comprising:

laying a first sheet of geomembrane;

laying a second sheet of geomembrane;

connecting the first and second sheets of geomembrane, and

connecting a first and second pre-attached conductive meshes.

The connecting the first and second sheets of geomembrane may employ a plastic extrusion welder.

The connecting the first and second sheets of geomembrane may employ a plastic twin or single track fusion welder or hot wedge welder.

The connecting the first and second pre-attached conductive meshes may employ the plastic extrusion welder.

The connecting the first and second pre-attached conductive meshes may employ a plastic hot air welder or compression between two heated plates to create a fusion weld.

The connecting the first and second pre-attached conductive meshes may employ a zip tie or other mechanical fastener.

For a better understanding of the invention, and to show how embodiments of the same may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying diagrammatic drawings in which:

Figure 1 a is a cross-sectional view of a prior art conductive geotextile.

Figure 1 b is a plan view of the metal wire layer of a prior art conductive geotextile.

Figure 1 c is a cross-sectional view of two connected prior art conductive geotextiles.

Figure 2 is a plan view of a conductive mesh in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Figure 3a is a schematic perspective drawing of a conductive mesh part-way through installation in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Figure 3b is a cross-sectional view of two connected conductive meshes according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view of two connected conductive meshes and geomembranes according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

Figure 1 a shows a cross-sectional view of a conductive geotextile 1 according to the prior art. The conductive geotextile 1 is composed of three layers: a first non-conductive layer 1 1 , a metal wire layer 12 and a second non-conductive layer 13.

The first and second non-conductive layers 1 1 and 13 are made of a material such as polypropylene, and are required to protect the metal wire layer 12, both during installation and in use.

The metal wire layer 12 is described in detail with reference to Figure 1 b, which is a plan view of said metal wire layer 12. The metal wire layer 12 is a thin layer comprising a plurality of very thin metal wires 121 woven into a plastic support 122.

The plastic support 122 comprises a plurality of first plastic members 122a arranged in parallel, and a plurality of second plastic members 122b. The second plastic members 122b are interleaved between the first plastic members 122a, in order to form a grid. The spaces of the grid may be approximately 3 mm x 5 mm.

The plastic support 122 may be formed from polyethylene.

The metal wires 121 provide the conductivity required for leak detection, and are arranged in a grid approximately 40 mm x 40 mm. The metal wires have a thickness of less than 1 mm, and are affixed to the plastic support 122 by being woven therethrough. The very thin nature of the metal wires 121 means that the plastic support 122, and the first and second non-conductive layers 1 1 and 13 are required to protect the vulnerable metal wires 121 .

In use, the conductive geotextile 1 may be manufactured in sheets, which are laid side-by-side during installation, and must then subsequently be connected in order to allow full, uninterrupted electrical conductivity between sheets necessary for the purposes of certain electric leak detection methodologies. In order to allow said conductivity, the metal wires 121 of the sheets must be brought into contact with each other and kept in a connected state.

Figure 1 c illustrates a method of connecting one sheet of conductive geotextile 1 a with another sheet of conductive geotextile 1 b. The connection between the two metal wire layers 12a and

12b - and particularly between the metal wires 121 located there on - requires that the first and second non-conductive layers of each sheet 1 1 a,b and 12a,b are separated from their respective metal wire layers 12a,b. Furthermore, the first and second non-conductive layers 1 1 a,b and 12a, b are arranged to be interleaved so as to facilitate the connection between the metal wire layers 12a,b. The connection between the metal wire layers 12a,b may be formed by welding together the wires from the respective metal wire layers 12a,b. When covering a large area with a conductive geotextile 1 , such a method of connection is both time-consuming and complex.

Figure 2 shows a conductive mesh 2 according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

The conductive mesh 2 is a mesh comprising first members 21 and second members 22, spaced so as to form a grid. The conductive mesh 2 is provided as a single conductive layer, having the requisite strength to support itself without need of a plastic support 122 or a non-conductive layer 1 1 or 13.

The conductive mesh 2 may comprise polyethylene, though it will be understood that other plastics may be employed. The conductive mesh 2 also comprises carbon in order to provide conductive properties.

In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, there is a method of forming the conductive mesh 2 by extrusion. Particularly, the first members 21 and second members 22 are formed by the extrusion of polyethylene.

The extruded first and second members 21 ,22 are arranged in a grid. Subsequently, the first and second members are connected using a plurality of fastening means 23.

Any suitable fastening means may be employed. For example, an extrusion weld, fusion weld, simply tying like a fishing net, or a zip tie may be used.

Granules or powders of carbon are mixed into the molten polyethylene before or during the extrusion, in order to provide the first and second members of the mesh with conductive properties. The ratio of carbon to polyethylene may be varied, so as to vary the level of conductivity of the mesh in order to deliver the most appropriate level of conductivity for the leak detection method in question.

For example, an application such as leak detection in a double skin alarm-type system may require a lower electrically conductive mesh, which can consequently be manufactured more

cheaply. In contrast, an application such as leak detection of a single skin using a spark or arc testing method may require a highly electrically conductive mesh.

Figure 3a shows a conductive mesh 2 part way through installation. A plurality of sheets of conductive mesh 2a-c are laid in the ground 4. The sheets 2a-c are laid side-by-side, though it will be understood that the sheets may be laid in a variety of alternative configurations. The sheets 2a-c are connected at a plurality of connection points 3, in order to provide electrical conductivity throughout the sheets 2a-c.

Figure 3b shows a cross-sectional view of two connected sheets 2a and 2b. Due to the single-layered nature of the sheets 2a-c there is no need for interleaving of multiple layers, and only a small overlap region 31 is required to provide conductivity between the sheets 2a and 2b.

The connection at the connection point 3 may be formed by a plurality fastening means, such as a zip tie (not shown). Alternatively, the connection at the connection point 4 may be performed by extrusion or fusion welding the two sheets 2a, b together.

According to an exemplary embodiment of the invention, a conducting mesh 2a may be supplied pre-attached to a geomembrane 2a-1 .

Figure 4 shows a cross-sectional view of two connected sheets 2a and 2b, wherein each sheet is pre-attached to a geomembrane 2a-1 and 2b-1 . Because both the geomembranes 2a-1 ,2b-1 and the conductive mesh 2a, b are formed from plastics material, a single extrusion welder tool may be employed to connect the geomembranes at geomembrane connection point 32, and to connect the conductive mesh at connection point 3. A cheaper alternative is to use fusion welding, whereby the sheets are welded together in situ having been placed in position.

Advantageously, the conductive mesh may reduce the time and effort required to install a conductive layer required for an electronic leak detection system. A single mesh layer provides strength and conductivity, thereby not requiring extra layers to support or protect a delicate conductive element. The single-layered nature of the mesh may simplify the process of installation, thereby reducing costs and increasing the accuracy of the associated system.

Furthermore, the extruded nature of the material advantageously allows for the variation of conductivity level during manufacture, by variation of the amount of carbon. Consequently, cheaper, lower conductivity materials may be employed where suitable.

Additionally, the plastic construction of the conductive mesh allows for the use of extrusion welding to simply connect sheets of mesh. Furthermore, extrusion welding can also be used

to connect geomembranes associated with the electronic leak detection system, thereby reducing the number of specialist tools required for installation. An additional advantage is that the mesh and the geomembrane(s) can be made of the same material, such as PE or HDPE.

Additionally, the compact mesh of the invention provides clearer detection results than the further spaced metal wires, advantageously improving detection performance.

Attention is directed to all papers and documents which are filed concurrently with or previous to this specification in connection with this application and which are open to public inspection with this specification, and the contents of all such papers and documents are incorporated herein by reference.

All of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), and/or all of the steps of any method or process so disclosed, may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of such features and/or steps are mutually exclusive.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings) may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.

The invention is not restricted to the details of the foregoing embodiment(s). The invention extends to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the features disclosed in this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), or to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the steps of any method or process so disclosed.