Underground Power Cable Detection and Inspection Technology Based on Magnetic Field Sensing at Ground Surface Level

Xu Sun, Wing Kin Lee, Yunhe Hou, Philip W.T. Pong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


In this paper, a novel technique based on magnetic field sensing is proposed for underground power cable detection and inspection. In this technique, the current sources of the underground power cables are reconstructed based on a set of measured magnetic field values at the ground surface level emanated by the electric currents carried by the underground power cables. The stochastic optimization technique developed with an artificial immune system algorithm is applied to realize the reconstruction. The principle of this method was proved and verified experimentally by our laboratory setup. Application of this method was demonstrated on the simulation models of 11- and 132-kV underground power cables. The reconstruction results of the electrical and spatial parameters of the cables match accurately with the actual source parameters of the cables in the models. This paper shows that the proposed method is able to remotely detect the horizontal locations and vertical depths of underground power cables with high accuracy at the ground surface level requiring no prior knowledge about the exact locations of the cables. Thus, it can be potentially used to develop a portable locator for providing a map of the underground electrical cables by simultaneous detection of multiple power lines. This method can also enable engineers to correctly inspect the operation states of the target cables during onsite maintenance. This technique is applicable to various laying conditions and cable configurations (three core or single core) of the underground power cables. In addition, this is an entirely passive method and does not need any signal injection into the cables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6851335
JournalIEEE Transactions on Magnetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Current source reconstruction
  • detection and inspection
  • magnetic field sensing
  • underground power cable


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