NYSEARCH’s projects in the Improved Installation, Maintenance and Repair Area focus on improving gas operations tool, techniques and practices to improve safety, improve productivity and in most cases, reduce costs. Projects where gas operations can be performed in live conditions with smaller excavations, safer, less disruptive tools are funded through NYSEARCH members on a voluntary basis and are categorized as such. Also tools that improve the ergonomics to aid worker health and safety are being developed as our better ways of pipe rehabilitation such as additional work in the area of demonstrating the viability of cured-in-place pipe liners.
The Pipeline Integrity/Direct & Remote Assessment area of the NYSEARCH portfolio is the largest single area because of the large focus by NYSEARCH members on pipeline integrity and innovative ways for inspecting all types of pipes; particularly those that are ‘un-piggable’ and/or need direct assessment. In addition to its large robotic inspection program, where NYSEARCH has developed a range of platforms, sensors and supporting technologies, NYSEARCH has also worked with expert contractors on miniaturized cameras, sensor devices, corrosion rate prediction and assessment tools, and remote inspection devices. Other NYSEARCH pipeline integrity projects include risk assessment tools for transmission pipelines and cased pipe and includes evaluation of ‘interacting’ threats. In the past, NYSEARCH also had a big role in evaluating and validating the Direct Assessment process used by many gas operators.
NYSEARCH members’ have supported projects over the long term in this area for innovative means of detecting pipe; particularly difficult-to-locate plastic pipe without tracer wire. In addition, since the early 2000s, NYSEARCH has supported different types of sensing technologies that could proactively monitor in transmission and distribution right-of-ways for activity near the pipeline so that accurate warnings can be made prior to encroachment or damage to the gas line. NYSEARCH has supported design, development and testing/evaluation of several different types of damage prevention technologies through multiple projects in this area and continues to test and enhance with contractors the state-of-the-art in point and distributed sensors in different frequency regimes. Further, with various partners, NYSEARCH is working to enhance the communications, engineering and power requirements of remote and underground damage sensing systems.
This program area covers a range of chemical sensing and methane sensing products that NYSEARCH has R & D activities in. NYSEARCH’s activity in this area has been ongoing since its inception in the 1980s and includes design, development and testing of successful products such as the Remote Methane Leak Detector (RMLD). We have also had projects to evaluation helicopter-based survey tools, walking and mobile survey tools and more currently, we have developed or evaluated innovative means of leak detection technologies and how those systems are applied in the real world (e.g. use of Perflourocarbon Tracers (PFTs) for leak detection). In addition, NYSEARCH, through its underpinning Oracle program, has searched solutions from other industries and has identified unique sensing approaches that are now brought to bear in R & D development projects. These include mercaptan and methane sensing systems that are developed to be smaller, more accurate and lower cost methods than what it currently applied in the gas business.
The Environment/Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions program area covers any NYSEARCH projects that result in improving the environment and/or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This includes projects that NYSEARCH conducts related to innovations regarding remediation or knowledge of issues surrounding manufactured gas plants sites; including sediments and soil vapors related to prior sites. Also, it includes development of hardware or software that can help gas company decisionmakers reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as the Carbon Calculator for Trenchless technologies tool that was developed in conjunction with the North American Society of Trenchless Technology.
NYSEARCH has several gas quality programs. Most of the work to date addresses issues that arise from changing gas compositions and new gas supplies. In our projects in this area, we are examining how changing gas composition impacts: 1) the LDC infrastructure (such as couplings), 2) in-service residential appliances, and 3) the impact of new trace constituents of chemicals on the ability to sense mercaptans, the odorant that is put into natural gas to give it a smell and to allow humans to be warned of its presence and help to identify if there are natural gas leaks. In addition to test reports and findings that impact gas policy from these programs, NYSEARCH has commercialized the NYSEARCH RANGE™ model for performing risk assessment and modeling how the performance of in-service residential appliances are impacted with changing gas composition.
Work on evaluation of new materials is based on a proactive vision for gas industry materials of the future and how the members can use new materials to address needs such as preventing damage to the pipeline. Thus, our key program in this area is building on fundamentally-proven science from other industries, in the area of nanoparticles that can now be used in plastic pipe material. As a result of meeting initial pipe material specifications, NYSEARCH is developing and testing a self-healing pipe material that utilizes nanoparticles and that is being evaluated for its ability to withstand the gas industry performance requirements for extruded medium and high pressure plastic pipe. If realized, this self-healing capability will result in immediate repair to the pipe material upon encroachment or damage from backhoes and other interfering parties.
NYSEARCH has several projects in the area of Advanced Polyethylene piping and joining. These projects range from developing modern test methodologies to evaluating inspection practices and systems for inspecting PE joints. Our PE R & D program has looked at the basics of PE pipe manufacturing and joining and made a technical determination from years of laboratory testing on the optimal parameters of various types of PE fuses. We have also worked with PE experts and scientists to better define the critical flaw sizes and the quantities of flaws in a fuse that could degrade performance. We’ve studied ultraviolet aging for PE stored in the outdoors and our projects have provided information that serves to upgrade standards and regulations on the application of modern PE pipe and the PE joint inspection process.
The NYSEARCH Oracle program has been in existence since 2002 and has been designed to identify and explore new technology concepts and solutions from other industries that can be successfully developed to achieve quantum leap advances in gas operations and customer service. Through a focused effort to consider emerging technologies and sciences, such as the development of nanosensors and nanoparticles for other industries, NYSEARCH and its members have been able to identify several quantum leap solutions that we then develop for application in the gas industry. Through Oracle and the research that is performed within the Oracle program by selected Staff and sub-contractors, our members have gained exposure to a broad range of technologies from a variety of fields and have received a first screening of how that technology could be applied to the gas industry. Numerous concepts have been explored through Oracle that resulted in over a dozen full proposal solutions and eight projects that have or are developing specific technologies that meet members’ needs.