Gas leak detection drone

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ABB’s drone flies through the pipelines and uses sensors to check for leaks. If there’s one job that seems designed for a drone, it’s checking for leaks in miles of winding pipelines. A lightweight drone equipped with sensitive sensors can accurately identify where a leak in the system has broken a seal in one quick flight, and the maintenance team can always go straight to where they need to work, no need to search for the fault along the pipes, no need to break through vegetation, no need to trample farmland to take measurements.

ABB’s HoverGuard flying instrument is the world’s fastest, most sensitive drone-mounted gas leak detection and greenhouse gas measurement system. HoverGuard can quickly, safely and reliably detect, quantify and map gas leaks from up to 100 meters away from natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines and storage facilities. HoverGuard automatically generates comprehensive digital reports summarising the measurement results. These reports can be shared online within minutes of the survey.

The patented cavity-enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy detects methane with nearly a thousand times greater sensitivity and more than ten times faster than conventional leak detection instruments. This sensitivity and speed of measurement allows HoverGuard to detect gas leaks at altitudes of 40 metres or more and while flying at speeds of up to 90 km/h. The device, which can carry a payload of 3 kg and is mounted on a low-cost, commercially available drone (UAV), can cover an area 10-15 times larger in a given time compared to conventional solutions.

“The HoverGuard brings significant advances in gas leak detection and climate protection measurements,” says Dr. Doug Baer, a specialist in laser analyzers. “Previously, investigators had to rely on slow, high-quality, analog sensors or expensive, sensitive cameras to detect leaks. Our new solution scans areas otherwise inaccessible by foot or vehicle with excellent efficiency. It increases the security of the pipeline network, whether in remote areas or in urban environments, by detecting and mapping natural gas leaks in hard-to-reach locations such as bridges, areas with road restrictions or vegetation, gas storage tanks and pipelines.”

The cloud-connected HoverGuard is the first drone-based system to continuously measure the three main greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and water during flight. Each greenhouse gas has a different impact on the environment and is present in the atmosphere in different quantities. Thanks to the extremely fast response and high accuracy of the gas analyser, scientists and researchers can reliably quantify the fluxes and physical quantities of greenhouse gases. The information on greenhouse gas transport is important for the study of complex environmental processes that affect climate and pollution.

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