Smart Shutoff Technology for Residential and Commercial Buildings
Gas Technology Institute
Des Plaines, IL
The project team completed both qualitative and quantitative customer surveys to develop deep understanding of customer acceptance and expectation for such a smart safety shutoff system for buildings. The survey conclusions indicate that customers would like the system to be managed and maintained by gas utilities. The team also reviewed smart gas systems and meters used by various countries in the world and developed system standards and requirements for both hardware and software, including data communication protocols. Two TAC meeting have been held in the last year. The team is currently working with smart meter manufacturers to incorporate the technical requirements and will test these devices in the next few months.
Currently, the natural gas infrastructure lacks enhanced safety features to detect and respond to hazardous incidents such as gas leaks, fires, natural disasters, system failures, operational errors, or external impacts. Commercial stand-alone safety devices such as excess flow valves, or residential natural gas monitors are available, but these devices do not possess "Internet of Things" connectivity to automate the safety response among emergency personnel, gas customers, and gas utility companies. Further research is needed to develop an integrated system with smart hazardous detecting sensors, automated shutoff valves, and two-way device-utility communication.
The project will research, develop, test and demonstrate a smart shutoff safety system to help natural gas customers maintain and safeguard customer-owned gas lines. The system provides additional protection layers during hazardous events and the ability to terminate gas flows when necessary. This research will identify safety sensors, integrate these devices into a smart shutoff platform, and provide network connectivity to monitor the system status via a web-based interface. Implementation of this technology will decrease the risk of damage posed by a hazardous situation beyond that which is currently attained by manual valves.
This agreement will lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs in smart shutoff technology regarding smart sensors, shutoff valves, and software integration to improve safety and prevent natural gas leaks in commercial/residential buildings. Overcoming these barriers will help California achieve its statutory energy goals by preventing natural gas leaks and lowering the emission footprint. Currently, deployment of smart shutoff systems is low due to high costs and limited connectivity. This project aims to provide solutions to the implementation, integration, and communication of advanced safety sensing technologies. These solutions will establish a roadmap that enhances adoption and help maintain the infrastructure's resiliency to respond to customer demand while lowering emissions by shutting-off the flow of gas due to leaks or the detection of a hazardous situation.
To curtail nuisance gas leaks at residential and commercial customers, gas concentration sensors can be strategically deployed to effectively detect and mitigate methane leak. The deployed gas concentration sensors will alert operators due to prolonged and continued detection of natural gas. The IoT data management software would alert the natural gas operator of the situation and recommend a field crew investigate the area.
The proposed technology will limit pipeline downtime and recovery costs by protecting against damaging incidents, and provide ratepayers access to more reliable energy supply.
Deploying smart shutoff technology to residential and commercial buildings can provide layers of protection to California ratepayers. With smart sensor deployment and automation, ratepayers will have the necessary interventions in place to avoid potentially hazardous events posed by gas leaks, fires, earthquakes, and floods. Detection and intervention capabilities provided by smart safety technology will protect ratepayer life and property.
Key Project Members
Energy Experts International
Travis Research Associates
Operations Technology Development