In China, the rarefaction-pressure wave techniques are widely used to diagnose the leakage fault for liquid pipelines. Many leaking propagating assumptions, such as stable single-phased flow hypothesis and none rarefaction wave front hypothesis, are often uncertain in the process of leak detection, which can easily result in some errors. Thus the rarefaction-pressure wave techniques should be integrated with other analytical techniques to compute a more accurate leak location. Additionally, the development trends of rarefaction-pressure wave techniques lie in three aspects. First, rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques will be integrated with other compatible detection techniques and modern signal processing methods to solve the complex problems encountered in leak detection. Second, studies of rarefaction-pressure wave techniques have advanced to a new stage. The deductions on propagation mechanism of rarefaction-pressure wave have been successfully applied to determine leaks qualitatively. Third, analysis on rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques will be made from a quantitative point of view. The quantitative data have been used to deduce leak amounts and location. The purpose of this paper is to present the recent achievements in the study of improved rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques. The rarefaction-pressure wave detection methods, effects of incomplete information conditions, the improvements of rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques with modified factors and propagation mechanisms are comprehensively investigated. The disfigurements of rarefaction-pressure wave are analyzed. The corresponding methods for resolving such problems as ill diagnostic information and weak amplitude values are put forward. Several methods for stronger small leakage detection ability, higher leakage positioning precision, lower false alarm rates are proposed. The application of rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques to safety protection of liquid pipelines is also introduced. Finally, the prospect of rarefaction-pressure wave detection techniques is predicted.

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