Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Google search car tracking down leaky PSE&G gas pipes

Google Street View car equipped with methane detectors (Photo: PSE&G)

James M. O'Neil reports for The Record:

To prioritize which aging gas mains to replace, the utility used a Google Street View car equipped with methane sensors.

PSE&G collaborated on the leak detection effort with the Environmental Defense Fund, Google and Colorado State University. The utility learned about work EDF and Google had done mapping gas leaks in Boston and Indianapolis, and asked to work together to do the same in North Jersey.
The EDF collaborators have since mapped gas leaks in Dallas, Syracuse, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh and elsewhere. This was the first project in which the EDF group worked directly with a utility to map out leaks.
The PSE&G gas main replacement project is designed to improve safety, waste less gas and reduce emissions of methane -- the main component of natural gas -- that contribute to climate change.
“Reducing methane emissions is one of the quickest ways we have to protect the climate,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “It takes courage to invite an environmental group to come sniffing around for leaks in their system. By tackling these leaks faster, PSE&G will achieve a lot more environmental benefit for their infrastructure dollars.”
The typical cost of replacing a mile of gas line in the PSE&G system is about $1.5 million to $2 million, according to the company.
The company used the Google Street View car to gather millions of readings over hundreds of miles of roadway in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex counties. The car was used in Fort Lee, Edgewater, Paramus, Ridgewood, Wayne, Fairview, Northvale, Paterson, Clifton and Passaic, as well as other towns.
There are four Google Street View cars specially equipped with the technology developed by EDF, Google and Colorado State University.
The technology not only allows volume to be measured with great precision, but also maps the leaks. EDF, Google and CSU spent five years putting the technology, the data processing and the analytical expertise together in one package.
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