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
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.