Gude designs sensors to better track, repair oil leaks

Veera Gnaneswar Gude, an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is developing biosensors that can better detect potential leaks on oil pipelines. PHOTO: Megan Bean | Public Affairs

A researcher in Mississippi State’s Bagley College of Engineering is designing new biosensors that can immediately detect issues in oil pipelines, preventing damaging leaks and maintaining the pipeline’s distribution.

Veera Gnaneswar Gude, an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, presented his research on the biosensors March 18 at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. Gude is testing sensors that can use the metabolism of microorganisms to detect oil leaks. The research is supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

“Routine pipeline inspection methods focus on the inside health of the pipelines, but there are none or limited sensor devices for monitoring outside health of the pipelines,” Gude said. “This technique may help assess the potential leaks in a more comprehensive manner.”

Gude has been working on research related to sensors for over six years, but recently started applying the techniques to pipelines. Gude also studies bioelectrochemical wastewater treatment, which triggered the idea of using bacteria as sensors for potential oil pipeline leaks and spills. As Gude continues this line of research, there are many potential benefits to the environment and to the companies that manage pipelines.

“We are looking forward to understanding the metabolism of various microorganisms and their potential for sensor application in air, soil and water environments using the bioelectrochemical platform, which could eventually send a wireless signal to a technician to identify and monitor leaks,” Gude said.

Researchers from MSU’s Department of Chemistry recently have begun collaborating on the biosensor project. Gude said existing collaborations with microbiologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service could also help move the research forward.

Gude is an accomplished researcher and teacher in the Bagley College of Engineering, where over the last 10 years he has published more than 75 scholarly publications and has received international recognition for his research on wastewater treatment, microbial desalination and biofuels.

For more on the Bagley College of Engineering, see

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James Carskadon | Public Affairs

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