Communication rate increase in drill strings of oil and gas wells using multiple actuators

Erjian Zhang, Ali Abdi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Wireless data communication and telemetry during drilling deep oil and gas wells are important enablers for safe and timely drilling operations. The transmission of information through drill strings and pipes using sound waves is a useful and practical approach. However, given the limited available bandwidth, transmission rates are typically smaller than what is needed. In this paper, a new method and system are proposed to increase the transmission rate over the same bandwidth, by deploying more than one actuator. Upon using multiple actuators, several data streams can be transmitted simultaneously. This increases the data rate without the need for additional bandwidth. The experimental results of a testbed with two actuators are presented, where the transmission rate is doubled with no bandwidth increase. A strain sensor receiver and accelerometer receivers are used to separate and demodulate the two data streams. It is demonstrated that it is possible to recover the data in the new faster system benefiting from two actuators, while having about the same bit error probability performance as a one-actuator system. Various combinations of strain and acceleration sensors are considered at the receive side. Due to some properties of strain channels (e.g., smaller delay spreads and their less-frequency-selective behavior) presented in this paper, it appears that a strain sensor receiver and an accelerometer receiver together can offer a good performance when separating and demodulating the two actuators’ data in the testbed. Overall, the experimental results from the proposed system suggest that upon using more than one actuator, it is feasible to increase the data rate over the limited bandwidth of pipes and drill strings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1337
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry


  • Acceleration sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Actuators
  • Drill strings
  • Measurement while drilling
  • Oil and gas wells communication
  • Oil and gas wells telemetry
  • Pipes
  • Strain sensors
  • Wireless telemetry


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