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STTR Phase II: Development and Validation of Low-Cost Natural Gas Leak Detection Sensors and Analytics for Drone-Based and Handheld Deployments
Phone: (650) 906-0274
Phone: (650) 906-0274
Contact: Zachary D Weller
Type: Nonprofit College or University
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project is to help find natural gas leaks to improve public safety and reduce natural gas rates. Natural gas leaks have led to fires and explosions that have injured hundreds of people, including some fatalities, and resulted in over $2 B in costs. By finding leaks before they become dangerous, improved detection systems can save lives and prevent costly damage. Current methods, which primarily rely on customer calls and annual walking surveys of utility assets, are labor-intensive and often miss small and developing leaks. The proposed project is to conduct advanced development of an automated leak detection system. Once leak locations are identified, a crew can be dispatched to pinpoint the leak location and perform repairs as necessary. At the conclusion of this work, two new tools will be completed to help find natural gas leakage, improving both utility efficiency and community safety. This STTR Phase I project proposes to develop a low-cost natural gas analyzer using a robust, near-infrared telecommunications-grade laser coupled with cavity-enhanced laser spectrometry to make highly accurate, rapid measurements of trace methane in a compact, portable form factor. By coupling this analyzer with a co-developed data analytics platform, gas leaks can be located and quantified from mobile platforms, allowing for rapid and accurate surveying of most utility distribution assets. In addition, the project will develop a sensitive, fast, handheld methane sensor to replace the state-of-practice flame-ionization detector, as it require consumables and is insufficiently sensitive. The project will engineer an integrated hardware-software system for leak detection. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *