Pre-Commercial Release of Energy Harvesting Module for EXP Series of Robotic Inspection Platforms (Pipetel/ an Intero Company)

Illustration shows overall system configuration.

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.

The objective of the final phase and recently completed PHMSA-cofunded project was to build a full-scale pre-commercial prototype system for integration aboard Explorer 20/26 (the robot designed for inspecting pipe sizes of 20” to 26” in diameter). The goals were achieved and our contractor, Invodane (an Intero Company) developed the system such that the unit can be operated effectively, safely, and efficiently within the pipeline environment, including ease of deployment, ease of operation, and ease of maintenance. The resulting system uses a deployable barrier, which utilizes gas flow to generate a tow force on the robot; a pressure regulator valve for fine adjustment of differential pressure across the barrier; and a turbine to generate electrical power that can be either directly consumed to power the robot or be stored in the on-board batteries for future use. (See figure of overall system configuration).

Following further live testing through Pipetel, this NYSEARCH product will be commercialized in 2022.

For more information Contact NYSEARCH.


For over thirty years, NYSEARCH has worked as a consortium of natural gas Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) who have a common interest and need for research and technology development and demonstration. Today, as part of the Northeast Gas Association (NGA), NYSEARCH manages over (30) projects in various stages of development for LDCs, transmission companies, federal agencies and their manufacturing and commercial partners. NYSEARCH is located in Parsippany, NJ and NGA is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts.