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STTR Phase I: Development and Validation of Low-Cost Natural Gas Leak Detection Sensors and Analytics for Drone-Based and Handheld Deployments

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1745840
Agency Tracking Number: 1745840
Amount: $224,348.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: CT
Solicitation Number: N/A
Timeline
Solicitation Year: 2017
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2018-12-31
Small Business Information
1931 Old Middlefield Road Suite 208
Mountain View, CA 94043
United States
DUNS: 080579141
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Manish Gupta
 (650) 906-0274
 manish.gupta@nikiralabs.com
Business Contact
 Manish Gupta
Phone: (650) 906-0274
Email: manish.gupta@nikiralabs.com
Research Institution
 Colorado State University
 Joseph von Fischer
 Nonprofit college or university
Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the rapid, cost-effective detection of natural gas leakage to improve public safety, mitigate global climate change, and decrease product loss. Natural gas is the largest provider of power in the United States. However, more than 80 Tg of leakage occurs at well pads and pipelines during production alone. Such leakage poses a public health risk, with 1300 significant incidents reported from 1997 ? 2016, resulting in 50 fatalities, 180 injuries, and $2B in costs. Additionally, methane is a greenhouse gas with a warming potential that is 84 times higher than CO2. In 2015, natural gas leakage accounted for 198 million tons of CO2 equivalents, corresponding to a carbon tax value of more than $2B. Finally, energy companies want to reduce leakage to avoid product loss, with 80 Tg of methane having a value of $12B. This project will directly impact the aforementioned areas by improving the efficiencies and costs associated with natural gas leak detection. With over 2.2 million miles of local utility gas distribution pipelines 1.2 million well pads in the U.S. alone, the commercial prospects for an improved natural gas leak detection system are very promising with expected revenues exceeding $70M. This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project will involve the development of a comprehensive natural gas leakage detection solution that integrates compact, low-cost sensors with state-of-the-art analytics. The solution, which can be used in drone-based and handheld monitoring, will enable energy providers to detect natural gas leakage from well pads and pipelines. In Phase I, technical feasibility will be demonstrated by the development of a lightweight gas sensor based on incoherent, cavity-enhanced spectrometry and a natural gas camera based on filtered infrared imaging. These sensors will be integrated with global positioning system, wind speed/direction, and data analytics platform. The Phase I solution will be laboratory tested to characterize its analytical performance, before undergoing field testing on controlled natural gas leaks. In Phase II, the sensor hardware, electronics, and firmware will be refined to meet the stringent size, weight, power, and environmental constraints of drone-based and handheld deployment. Likewise, the analytics platform will be refined to incorporate the STTR sensors, interpret the infrared camera data, and provide comprehensive leak detection reports. The Phase II prototypes will be field tested under real-world conditions with a variety of potential customers for both well pad monitoring and pipeline distribution system monitoring.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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