Methane leaks are a major problem in the US and beyond. In order to better identify and track greenhouse gas leaks in the country, the US just passed the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act, signed into law on December 27. The PIPES Act requires that gas pipeline operators use advanced leak detection tech to get a better handle on what is coming out of their pipelines.
ABB claims that it has the best solution. The company says that “its ABB Ability™ Mobile Gas Leak Detection System, HoverGuard, provides the solution by finding leaks faster and more reliably than ever before.”
HoverGuard detects methane far better than the tools that have typically been used for this. Its patented tech is cavity-enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy, and ABB claims that the sensitivity with which it detects methane is 1,000 greater than it is with conventional methane detection tools. And it can do so while flying 130 ft above the ground or even higher — at 55+ mph.
This system uses an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to detect, quantify, and map leaks “up to 300 ft from natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines, storage facilities, and other potential sources quickly, safely and reliably.”
All of this means that the HoverGuard system can cover 10–15 times more land in a given period of time than competing old-school tech.
The system also “automatically generates comprehensive digital reports that summarize results and can be shared in minutes after a survey.”
HoverGuard certainly sounds like the tool needed to identify methane gas leaks across the country and get them plugged, but it also identifies, quantifies, and maps two other greenhouse gases: water vapor and carbon dioxide.
“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. Our groundbreaking solution effectively probes otherwise inaccessible locations to increase safety across the pipeline network. It detects and maps natural gas leaks around hard-to-reach sites such as bridges, areas with right-of-way restrictions or vegetation coverage and storage assets.”
We don’t often get excited about gas detection tech, but when we do, it’s ABB’s new HoverGuard system. Also, worth noting is that it is part of a broader suite of ABB products for gas leak detection, which also includes the vehicle-based MobileGuard, hand-held MicroGuard, and stationary EverGuard (coming later in 2021).