Ameren-Illinois is deploying a new tool to help find gas leaks in the state.
The new “gas sniffer” vehicle works by deploying a high-tech analyzer on the rear of a hybrid electric car. As the vehicle drives through city streets, it detects the presence of methane and ethane and passes air samples to a device that records wind speed and directional readings, creating a digital map to pinpoint the possible location of a natural gas leak.
Eric Kozak, Ameren’s Vice President of Natural Gas Operations says it will help the company analyze its infrastructure faster and more efficiently: “We walk our entire gas system once every 4 years. That’s what we do looking for leaks. Our people carry an instrument and walk along the ground and do that with an instrument that has a sensitivity ranging in parts per million. This [new] unit in the vehicle actually has a sensitivity rating that’s one thousand times greater at parts per billion. It’s more sensitive technology. They literally drive it up and down the street and it puts indications of leaks on a map on a GPS-accurate map and then we can go investigate those [locations]. It’s actually really cool.”
Kozak says it will somewhat eliminate technicians walking yards and streets to detect leaks. Kozak says its yet another tool that Ameren can use to continue to be good environmental stewards, while providing good service to its customers.