Scientists with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Schlumberger - with support of the Gas Research Institute - have developed a radar system that accurately detects, locates, and creates underground 3-D images.

The GPIR (ground-penetrating imaging radar) enables underground infrastructure companies to create 3-D maps of the complex array of underground electric, gas, water, and communication lines that lie at depths as great as 10 ft (3 m). Armed with up-to-date information about the location of these structures, companies can now better manage, maintain, and build new underground networks.

"The growing economy places new pressures on underground utility infrastructure," says Ralph Bernstein, a technical leader at EPRI. "This new radar system will help energy companies improve underground planning and maintenance as well as avoid disruptive construction accidents."

This new system uses a transmitting antenna to send a high-frequency radar pulse into the ground. When the radar pulse encounters a buried object, such as metal or plastic pipe, the object reflects the pulse back to the surface where a receiving antenna picks it up. The radar system moves the antennas along the ground surface, and the timing of the transmitted radar pulses can be used to detect, locate, and map underground objects.

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