The ABB Ability mobile gas-leak detection system can now be mounted on a drone and flown into areas with suspected gas leaks, such as along natural gas pipelines.
By Chris McNamara, Smart Industry Content Director
The original method of hydrocarbon gas-leak detection was almost comically simplistic—and dangerous to boot. You walk around holding a flame and when it flares, you know you’re on to something.
The newest method, as displayed on the exhibit floor at ABB Customer World last week,is bit more…well…elevated. The ABB Ability mobile gas-leak detection system can now be mounted on a drone and flown into areas with suspected gas leaks, such as along natural gas pipelines. In real time, the 3-kg device (the size of a large shoe box) sends data to operators about gas levels at parts-per-billion granularity.
The tool boosts safety for gas-industry personnel, protects industry assets and the environment, and ultimately saves revenue as it speeds the fixes of leaks. Win. Win. Win.
And anything related to drones is inherently cool, a fact proven by the crowds that hovered around the drone display at the ABB event.
This new solution also requires fewer man-hours to implement and costs less to operate as it covers wide, hard-to-reach areas. It uses patented cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy to detect methane and ethane with a sensitivity more than 1,000 times higher than conventional leak-detection tools. The analyzers extreme sensitivity enables operators to quickly identify potential methane emissions at a greater distance while flying, a feat not practical with other sensor technologies. And to avoid false readings, it can distinguish between biogenic methane, manure and shallow coal and oil deposits, from thermogenic methane from natural gas.
ABB’s analysis software automatically processes the collected methane, ethane, GPS and wind data to create simple reports that can be used to quickly identify areas in the pipeline network with potential leaks. And via the ABB Ability cloud-storage tool, this device enables quick and efficient distribution of data and reports to all stakeholders anywhere in the world. Authorized users can view the progress of flights in real-time as well as review and act on processed leak reports.
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