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Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community. Some Techlines may be issued by the Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs as agency news announcements.
Issued on:  October 2, 2003

Vehicle-Mounted Natural Gas Leak Detector Passes Key "Road Test"

Spots Natural Gas Leaks from 30 Feet Away
At Speeds Approaching 20 Miles Per Hour

PSI Gas Detector - Photo
PSI has modified this early prototype of a handheld remote natural gas detector to operate from a moving vehicle.
Andover, MA
- Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) recently conducted a successful test of its mobile natural gas detector at the company's research facilities in Andover, Mass. PSI's prototype leak detector demonstrated its ability to spot natural gas leaks from a distance of up to 30 feet from a vehicle moving at speeds approaching 20 miles per hour.

In the United States, significant resources are devoted annually to leak inspection of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. Leakage surveys are critical to maintaining the integrity and safety of the nation's pipelines and gas distribution system, and gas utility companies are actively seeking remote detection technology to improve the efficiency and reduce maintenance costs of leak detection.

PSI has taken the first steps in developing and demonstrating a low-cost, lightweight, mobile natural gas leak detector capable of extending the range of remote detection of natural gas leaks in distribution and transmission pipelines. The technology will be able to quantify and distinguish natural gas pipeline leaks from other hydrocarbon leaks or from methane sources.

PSI's Dr. Richard Wainner is one of the principal scientists in the DOE research project.

PSI's Dr. Richard Wainner is one of the principal scientists in the DOE research project.
The device, about the size of a bread box, can be mounted on top of a vehicle. The detector uses a scanning laser beam on the roadway in front of the vehicle to detect leaking gas. Current technology requires that an optical methane detector mounted to a service vehicle be driven through a natural gas leak to detect it. This can become troublesome if the leak occurs in a residential neighborhood next to a customer's home and away from the street.

"Development of mobile leak detector technology helps prepare the United States to deal with a large, aging, and expanding natural gas pipeline system," said Mike Smith, DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.

The prototype detector was developed through the Office of Fossil Energy's Infrastructure Reliability program, part of the Strategic Center for Natural Gas at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Further work will concentrate on mounting the detector on a utility service vehicle and demonstrating the mobile detection of natural gas leaks from an operating distribution pipeline.

The project cost is $195,244, with DOE cost sharing $156,190 of the total.

- End of TechLine -

For more information, contact:

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DOE's Pipeline Infrastructure Reliability Program




 Page owner:  Fossil Energy Office of Communications
Page updated on: March 30, 2004 

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