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Tanknology Vacuum Detection of Underground Storage Leaks

The vacuum leak detection system patented by Ed Adams hinges on the scientific maxim that nature abhors a vacuum. Adams’ leak detection system creates an artificial vacuum inside gasoline and chemical storage tanks, and then uses sensitive monitoring equipment to detect the noise air bubbles make as they are drawn into the tank.

The vacuum leak detection system helps pinpoint the small cracks and other holes created in the thousands of gasoline and chemical storage tanks scattered across North America. Gasoline or chemical leaks from these tanks can have a significant impact on water quality, nearby property values and hamper redevelopment plans of gas stations if environmental remediation is needed.

The vacuum leak detection system devised by Adams reversed the process that had been used to detect underground storage tank leaks. Under the old system, tanks were pressurized by filling them to the brim, which forced the fluid inside through the leaks into the surrounding soil, which created secondary pollution problems.

The system is mobile, mounted in customized trucks which can travel around the country to active and abandoned underground gasoline and chemical storage tanks.

The vacuum detection system works by sealing off all the tank outlets, inserting a vacuum pump into the vent, along with a probe that includes a hydrophone. The vacuum pump is activated, and a partial vacuum is created.

Leaks can be detected below and above the fluid level in the tank, and analysis of the sounds created by the air rushing in can help pinpoint the source of the leak.

Leaks in the air space above the fluid create a distinct hissing sound, while the bubbles made by air rushing through gasoline or chemicals create different sounds based on their size. Large bubbles, which indicate a large leak, create lower frequency noises. The vacuum leak detection technology also uses a sensor to detect leaks from an underground water table into a gasoline storage tank.

All of the sensitive monitoring and detection equipment feeds signals to computers mounted inside customized trucks which are mobile laboratories. Though Adams’ invention became mobile in the early 1980s, the fleet of vacuum leak detection trucks were distributed across North America after 1989, when new investors helped boost Tanknology, the company Adams formed to market the system.

Tanknology in Canada and the United States have a wide range of corporate clients including petrochemical giants Amoco, Exxon/Mobil and Petro-Canada; convenience stores like 7-Eleven, and Mac’s; car rental agencies like Budget Rent-a-Car and Hertz; and large government clients like the City of Calgary, Transport Canada and the Department of National Defence.

VACUTECT Storage Tank Testing System

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this feature video segment courtesy of  Tankology Canada Inc. Watch it

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