Having A Vested Interest in Natural Gas Leak Detection

Natural Gas Transportation: A Change in Tide
October 30, 2013
Upgrading Aging Pipeline Infrastructure
December 6, 2013

Having A Vested Interest in Natural Gas Leak Detection

natural-gas-stationWe’ve discussed here on the blog the need to continually monitor and upgrade aging infrastructure, and part of the issue stems from being able to detect natural gas leaks and their source.

It’s a commonly held belief that sometimes the best solutions to problems are found by going outside your industry. That seems to be the case in recently developed technology that helps engineers and scientists identify natural leaks and track their source in the natural gas pipeline infrastructure immediately. The technology used to do this was adapted from the telecommunications industry.

Last month, David Foster, executive director of BluGreen Alliance wrote an op-ed published in the New York Times that new technology can detect methane gas emissions in the natural gas pipeline system.

Of course, Mr. Foster makes the point that once the repairs are specified, funds need to be in place to make the repairs. Capital investment in this not only helps reduce emissions, but it also creates thousands of jobs, and a more reliable natural gas infrastructure.

New Technology Detects Gas Leaks

The Picarro Portable Detector is a tube that takes air into a small chamber with mirrors on the wall. A laser bounces back and measures methane content. Connected to an instrument on the vehicle that measures wind and speed, the tool calculates the location and origin of the leak.

With this new technology, leaks can be detected immediately rather than having to wait for samples to be sent to and from the laboratory for tests and results.

Other technologies exist such as a lantern-like instrument from Physical Sciences, Inc and an “open path” model by LI-COR Bio-Sciences, all with the goal to make natural gas an even greener source of energy.

The World Resources Institute mandates that natural gas leaks must be less than 1 percent of total production to maintain the environmental benefit of natural gas production, use and distribution.

Being able to proactively detect gas leaks is important not only because of its environmental impact. It’s simply part of being a good community member by creating a safer and cleaner environment, running a solid business by creating more jobs and improving efficiency, and therefore profits, and being a better economic engine in the communities in which we operate.

Snelson Companies is proud to be part of the industry that supplies such a critical part of our energy infrastructure, as well as continues to lead the way in safety and responsible stewardship of our natural resources.