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