Determining Critical Crack Size and Water Pressure for Sealing Water Leaks using Electro-Osmotic Pulse

Project ID: 1764
Principal Investigator: Daryl Little
Research Topic: Repair and Maintenance
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

Reclamation structures such as Dams, Power Plants, Pumping Plants, Water Treatment Plants, and even some Office Buildings exhibit water seepage and leaks at cracks and joints, often exhibiting calcite formation. The water, or head pressure on the outside of these concrete walls can be extreme often pushing the water through very small cracks. Some of these cracks are so small that sealing them is difficult to impossible. Two questions were never answered during the development of EOP technology by US Army Corp of Engineers and various private companies when it was developed over 15 years ago.
1. What is the critical crack size and leakage flow rate which needs to be repaired in order for EOP to work effectively?
2. What is the maximum head pressure at which EOP will still effectively prevent water intrusion into the structure?

Need and Benefit

A main goal of BOR is the delivery of water and power. Dams and pumping plants are among the concrete structures used for this purpose, but they often have leaks and high water pressure. Leaks create O&M problems and expenses which cause loss of revenues related to water delivery and power generation.
Due to the cracks and leaks in the concrete, water migrates through the concrete and can lead to calcium carbonate deposits which can interfere with gate operations, can plug drains, result in standing water in chambers, and cause significant corrosion problems of any metal in contact with the leaking water. Due to the significant amount of structures the BCR of this technology and its applications is high.
This is a common Reclamation problem. Existing methods for these types of repairs are very expensive and are limited in application. To date, in many cases, the only solution is continual maintenance of leaking structures. The continual repair and maintenance is difficult and expensive due to the location and materials. If this technology is effective for these kinds of leaks and flow rates, repair costs will be greatly reduced, since repairs will be a onetime fix versus continuous repairs.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Future Utilization of Electro-Osmotic Pulse Technology on Concrete Structures (final, PDF, 2.2MB)
By Daryl Little
Report completed on February 15, 2020

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20