PIPES Act Paves Way For Drone-Based Leak Detection

April 7, 2021
HoverGuard may help operators of the United States’ three million miles of pipeline infrastructure to increase their safety and environmental capabilities in line with the PIPES Act of 2020.

ABB says HoverGuard – the latest addition to its Ability Mobile Gas Leak Detection System – can help operators of the United States’ three million miles of pipeline infrastructure to increase their safety and environmental capabilities in line with the PIPES Act of 2020.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), says ABB, the majority of gas shipments in the U.S. take place using the millions of miles of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. On December 27, 2020, the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act was signed into law in the United States. The Act directs gas pipeline operators to use advanced leak detection technologies to protect the environment and pipeline safety.

HoverGuard is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based system that detects, quantifies and maps leaks up to 300 feet from natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines, storage facilities and other potential sources quickly, safely and reliably, according to ABB. It automatically generates comprehensive digital reports that summarize results and can be shared in minutes after a survey.

While flying, the cloud-connected, multi-gas system reportedly quantifies the three most important greenhouse gases – methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor. Sourcing individual gases provides important information to scientists and researchers when studying the complex environmental processes affecting climate and pollution, according to the company. Cavity enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy reportedly detects methane with a sensitivity more than 1,000 times higher than conventional leak detection tools. This sensitivity and speed allow HoverGuard to detect leaks while flying at altitudes of 130 feet or higher and at speeds greater than 55 m.p.h. The company says it can cover 10-15 times more land area per minute by operating on low-cost commercial UAV capable of carrying a payload of 6.6 pounds.

“HoverGuard represents an important step-change in gas leak detection both in terms of safety and the environment.” said Doug Baer, Ph.D., ABB Global Product Line Manager of Laser Analyzers. “Previously inspectors had to rely on slow, qualitative, analog sensors or expensive delicate cameras to find leaks.”

For more information, visit: www.abb.com

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