Belfast Telegraph

Obituary: Ernest Shannon - Esteemed inventor of pipeline sensor

He discovered the 'pig' sensor that appears in 10,000 miles of UK pipelines

Queen's University alumnus Ernest Shannon, who has died aged 73, was an esteemed engineer and the inventor of a famous pipeline sensor which featured in Bond films.

Professor Shannon, born in Belfast in 1937, was a pupil at Belfast College of Technology who later became a lab technician at just 16 years old, before working at planemakers Short & Harland.

It was at Queen's where he graduated and became a lecturer in aeronautical engineering. Ernie, as he was known to family and friends, then concentrated his talents on solving the problem of why ultra-high pressure vessels fractured, receiving a PHD for his efforts.

Shannon was then headhunted by British Gas where he and his team came up with the highly-successful 'pig' sensors to counteract catastrophic ruptures.

Pigs went on to appear in the UK's 10,000 miles of pipelines and in three Bond thrillers: Diamonds Are Forever, The Living Daylights and The World Is Not Enough.

Shannon was also the author of many technical papers, president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and he was elected to the Royal Academy of Engineers, where he served as vice-president.

He was part of the panel that investigated the Potters Bar rail disaster, receiving honorary doctorates from Queen's and Sheffield universities. He was appointed CBE in 2001.He also received The Royal Society's Mullard Medal for his 'pigs' creation and the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Prize. He is survived by his wife Annabelle and their two children.

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