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Oil and Natural Gas Programs - Natural Gas Infrastructure

Natural Gas Infrastructure
Continued expansion of gas transmission, storage, distribution, and LNG facilities will be required to meet future needs of gas consumers and suppliers. However, there remains a critical dependency on the existing natural gas infrastructure to meet customer requirements. Aging pipeline infrastructure is facing operational challenges and will need to be upgraded to meet future customer demand. In addition, traditional U.S. supply sources will not be enough to meet projected customer demand. This program develops technology to ensure the operational reliability and integrity of transmission and utility distribution pipeline systems. The research is focused on five categories: inspection technologies, remote sensing, operational technologies, materials development, and storage.

Inspection Technologies: Develop and integrate innovative sensors to provide enhanced assessments of the status of transmission and distribution facilities.

Remote Sensing: Develop advanced technologies to detect and identify 3rd party intrusion near gas line right-of-ways and facilities, detect and image metallic and non-metallic underground facilities, detect and quantify natural gas leaks, and other pertinent applications.

Operational Technologies: Develop next generation technologies and methodologies that improve the efficiency, reliability, and integrity of transmission and distribution operations.

Materials Development: Develop smart pipe and in-situ repair technologies for both metal and plastic pipe.

Storage: Examine ways to improve the reliability and efficiency of our nation's gas storage system and explore opportunities for liquid natural gas facility siting.

Benefits of the program are expected to be reduced greenhouse methane emissions, increased pipeline capacity, improved pipeline assessment technologies, more efficient pipeline operations, and increased safety and security. For example, in the United States, significant resources are devoted annually to leak inspection of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. Leakage surveys are critical to maintaining the integrity and safety of the nation's pipelines and gas distribution system, and gas utility companies are actively seeking remote detection technology to improve the efficiency and reduce maintenance costs of leak detection.

DOE, in collaboration with industry, has taken the first steps in developing and demonstrating a low-cost, lightweight, mobile natural gas leak detector capable of extending the range of remote detection of natural gas leaks in distribution and transmission pipelines. The technology will be able to quantify and distinguish natural gas pipeline leaks from other hydrocarbon leaks or from methane sources.

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Page Last Modified:   August 7, 2008