As interest in the decarbonization of energy increases, many natural gas utilities are exploring or already injecting renewable natural gas (RNG) into their distribution networks to reduce their carbon impact on the environment. Through the collaborative efforts of the consortium, NYSEARCH has pioneered a digital database to provide a common framework on RNG interconnection which allows utilities to select an optimal design for their respective systems as they accept, interconnect, and transport RNG. This database serves as a valuable resource for utility companies who are just beginning to engage with RNG producers and to those who have well established relationships with biogas producers to streamline and reduce capital costs of the interconnection process.
Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) can be captured and upgraded from wastewater treatment plants, dairy farms, landfills, power-to-gas (P2G) units, and generated from direct carbon capture or woody biomass via gasification and pyrolysis. This NYSEARCH product allows economies of scale to be realized through the standardization of skid design and its components such as instrumentation, measurement, regulation, gas quality analysis, and associated manufacturing processes with respect to the fabrication of RNG interconnection skids...View Full Application Summary
The Explorer series of robotics inspection platforms is a wide range of technologies developed by the NYSEARCH consortium to address issues related to pipeline integrity, specifically the inspection of unpiggable pipe. It has been licensed by InvoDane/Intero and has been in commercial service for over a decade with numerous North American jobs completed. Once the Explorer Series of Robotic Inspection platforms were commercialized with corrosion detection and mechanical damage sensing capabilities in 2011, NYSEARCH initiated development of additional sensing and operational capabilities to increase Explorer’s efficacy, effectiveness and productivity with respect to the services it can provide. An important value-added feature was the design, development, and testing that is now complete. This NYSEARCH accomplishment now provides the ability of InvoDane/Intero – through its service company, Pipetel Technologies Inc., to commercialize an alternative crack sensor to extend the benefits of the robot’s inspection services.
This alternate crack sensor, which is also known as the weld crack sensor, is designed to be utilized in 20”-26” diameter unpiggable pipelines to detect cracks along the seam welds of the pipe. The robot continuously scans the seam weld with minimal stop or start maneuvers. The operational routines of Explorer equipped with the crack sensor minimize the impact of the inspection process on pipeline operations. Phase IV of this project is near complete. It focuses on optimizing the sensor to achieve additional weight reduction, improve detection capabilities, and refine sizing routines...View Full Application Summary
NYSEARCH continuously strives to improve the capabilities and performance of the Explorer robotics inspection platform in order to enhance its ability to detect defects and to make its operation more efficient and cost-effective. In December 2022, NYSEARCH completed the automation of Explorer along with the addition of advanced data analysis capabilities to reduce the level of operational complexity associated with its development and commercial implementation. This work has resulted in the realization of increased overall functional capabilities, by automating operation and controls.
The resulting product, which will be included in the commercial service offerings from Pipetel Technologies Inc/An Intero Integrity Company, increases operational efficiency through the addition of a powerful new automation computer which was successfully integrated with the existing Explorer system. It also provides a drive assist feature with the capability of autonomously maintaining proper robot alignment while scanning and fully aligning the robot for entry into any feature. The pipeline feature recognition system can now recognize straight pipes and bends in any plane, including tees, and various obstructions. Also, Explorer’s pipeline mapping function can now provide mapping data that can be post-processed with location survey data to indicate the path that the robot has traveled...View Full Application Summary
In 2019, Enetics under license from NGA/NYSEARCH, commercialized the GasComm® Analytic Safety Monitoring System for steel applications. This system deploys a network of sensors in one keyhole-size space within the pipe to: 1) measure key network operating variables such as pressure, vibration, temperature, and water content, 2) communicate data to the operator via a number of means, including wireless communication through a pipe, and, 3) power itself from a number of sources.
The commercialized Enetics GasComm® unit for steel pipes is confirming the ability of this technology to monitor live pipelines in real time. This GasComm® system is certified as Class 1/Div 1 for Intrinsic Safety and it adheres to ASME pressure boundary requirements. Currently, the GasComm® can be transferred using a specific Remote Terminal Unit (RTU). Work is underway to allow seamless integration to existing utility-owned RTUs using a GasComm® control module. Also, Enetics and NYSEARCH are nearing completion of the GasComm® application for plastic pipe; the most prominent material used in Local Distribution Companies’ networks.View Full Application Summary
In May 2021, NYSEARCH officially completed with cofunding from PHMSA/DOT an energy harvesting module to provide self-powering from the gas flow in the pipeline. This module is intended for the full range of robotic inspection platforms offered by Pipetel known as Explorer. However, the size range that was the focus of over (4) years of research, development and demonstration by NYSEARCH members was for pipe diameters ranging from 20” – 26”.
Explorer robots carry on-board batteries that provide all the power needed for operation. As a result, the range of the robots is limited by the on-board power available. To improve Explorer’s operational range by utilizing gas flow available in the pipeline, NYSEARCH sponsored an earlier project to develop a module that would use principles of Energy Harvesting. The goals were to minimize or possibly eliminate power drawn from the robot’s batteries when travelling with the flow, and to charge the robot’s batteries using the available gas flow instead of above ground attached equipment (currently used), which requires expensive excavation and hot tapping.View Full Application Summary
With Fire & Risk Alliance, LLC from Rockville, MD, NYSEARCH completed a two-phase study that performed experimental and modeling work to study the dispersion of Natural Gas in residential structures. The data from this project has been provided to industry and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to aid in the development of a detector placement standard and to facilitate the deployment of methane detectors.
The two-phases of work included over 150 physical tests and modeling simulations to gather data to improve understanding of the gas dispersion patterns in a residence. The overall recommendations from that study are based on a wide array of potential gas flow rates (1 SCFH to 150 SCFH) and release conditions, residential structure configurations and ventilation conditions including HVAC...View Full Application Summary
In 2020, adding to commercial products already developed through the NYSEARCH program, NUPI Americas commercialized another size in a series of approved permanent repair solutions for butt fused plastic pipe. These ASTM certified permanent repairs for suspect and non-leaking damages come in two configurations; butt fusion repair sleeves (BFRS) and variable length repair sleeves (VLRS) and they apply to both Medium Density (MDPE) and High Density (HDPE) plastic pipe. The 1 ¼” pipe sleeve (pipe diameter size) that was released in 2020, adds to other sizes that include 2”, 4” and 6” for both BFRS and VLRS. Following prior NYSEARCH-funded development and testing, NUPI has also commercialized the 8” and 12” sizes for the BFRS. Both the BFRS and VLRS are high-density fittings using PE4710 (PE100) material that can be applied for plastic pipes up to 124 psig and for up to 50% thru-wall damage without interrupting services or conducting bypass operations...View Full Application Summary
The Explorer Robot (EXP) revolutionized the natural gas industry by providing an innovative solution for in-line inspection of what was once considered “un-piggable” pipes. The robots are tetherless, modular, remote controlled and self-powered inspection robots that can operate in live pipelines, capture high quality imaging, and measure corrosion anomalies and mechanical damage in pipe sizes ranging from 6” – 8”, 10” – 14”, 16”– 18”, 20” – 26”, and 30” – 36”.
Alongside the years of research and collaboration dedicated to building the Explorer robot itself, NYSEARCH members have developed supporting technologies advancing current sensing and other capabilities. Some of the supporting technologies that are now commercially available include an in-line charging tool to extend range and mechanical damage/ovality sensor to measure pipe defects. Other supporting technologies under development include an Eddy Current crack sensor, hardness tester, and cleaning tool.
NYSEARCH members are also exploring the opportunities of automating various robotic controls to execute autonomous operation during inspections and energy harvesting to harness potential energy within the pipeline system to power the robot and extend range. The continued advancements of the Explorer platforms highlight the dedication and support of revolutionary ideas that NYSEARCH members choose to develop and progress the industry in overcoming the many challenges of safety and integrity.
A permanent and approved solution to remediating both suspect butt fusion joints and other non-leaking damages in 4’’ and 6’’ PE services has been developed and realized through NYSEARCH. The Variable Length Repair Sleeve (VLRS) is a high-density PE fitting that allows an operator to safely make a permanent electro-fusion repair on PE pipeline up to 124psig operating pressure without interrupting service or wasting resources on constructing a by-pass. The Butt Fusion Repair Sleeve (BFRS) is also a high-density PE fitting that can be applied to suspect butt-fused joints and electro-fused using standard electrofusion equipment without the need to interrupt gas service and perform a cut-out. The BFRS is considered a full encirclement repair by ASTM. 2’’, 8’’, and 12’’ sizes for the VLRS and BFRS are near commercial.
The United States is experiencing a shift in natural gas supply with the discovery of new gas formations and recent strides to incorporate renewable natural gas from biogas suppliers. Changes in fuel composition can pose a public safety challenge when appliance burner tip effects are not thoroughly understood. NYSEARCH members completed a long-term study to address the concern of changing gas supplies with both laboratory and in-situ testing to model how changing gas composition can impact the performance of in-service residential appliances. An online risk-assessment model is available for purchase on the NYSEARCH website or by contacting our office. Click the link below to find out more.Purchase or Find Out More
Another risk-assessment model created in collaboration with Kiefner and NYSEARCH members identifies and quantifies the potential effects of interacting threats and the increased likelihood or risk impact for transmission pipeline systems. An intricate database of algorithms that includes factors for interacting threats was developed and incorporated into Kiefner’s existing risk-assessment model software. The software quantifies the effects of all identified interacting threats based on SME analysis of actual gas transmission incidents from the PHMSA and Kiefner forensic databases. A subscription to the online risk-assessment model can be purchased here. A stand-alone import spreadsheet with associated algorithms also comes with the purchase, which can be used in conjunction with any operator’s established risk model.Purchase or Find Out More
One of the first commercial products successfully developed by NYSEARCH funders is the Remote Methane Leak Detector. The RMLD™ was commercialized in 2006 by Heath Consultants, Inc. The tool became a productivity innovation for walking leak surveys allowing inspection of a service line without requiring the operator to walk the entire length. The RMLD™ also allows inspection of difficult to access areas such as secured buildings/homes and yards with dogs, detecting leaks as low as 5ppm at distances up to 100ft away. Over 3000 units have been sold worldwide to date.