Self-healing pipes set to reduce leaks and save water across the region

A brand-new invention that will allow water pipes to ‘self-heal’ without the need for digging or excavation has been successfully trialled in Newcastle.

The first-of-its-kind solution was unveiled and trialled at Northumbrian Water’s Innovation Festival in July 2022 and is now being tested in the field by operational teams across the region.

While still being early days for the ‘No-Dig’ technology, the revolutionary solution is already showing signs of helping teams to improve the speed at which they can fix leaks, avoid digging up roads and pavements and save precious water.

No-Dig is a solution made of water, gel and minerals and this is injected into pipes that are leaking. The chemical-free solution goes through the pipe, finds the hole and seals the pipe from the outside, blocking the leak – helping to avoid excavation, road closures and impact to water supplies.

Jim Howey, Head of Water Networks at Northumbrian Water said:

“It is still early days at the moment, but we are seeing some really positive progress in this project and we really do think it could completely change the way we, and in time all water companies, operate in the future.

“There is a lot of potential here.

“As well as wasting water, leaks can also cause lots of disruption for customers if we need to carry out excavations – but this will eliminate that tricky step from our process.

“This is a very creative and innovative solution, and I can’t wait to see how the project progresses in the future.”

The idea was developed at the 2021 Innovation Festival by Northumbrian Water and Origin Tech and was further developed over the course of the year to be showcased at the festival the following year.

Additional trials of the product have been carried out on live water mains across the North East over the course of the year, including in Seaton Delaval and in Bowburn.

The teams then monitor how long the repair lasts – and it is believed that this technology could be a game-changer in respect to finding and fixing leakage in the future.

John Marsden, Commercial Director at Origin, said:

“This is a brilliant solution because as well as eliminating the need to dig, there are no chemicals meaning that is completely safe as well.

“We are very excited to have been working on this project at the previous two Innovation Festivals, and hope to see the project go from strength to strength as it continues to be tested in the future.”

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