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ABB launches drone-based gas leak detection and greenhouse gas measuring system

05 May 2021

Pipelines often cross inaccessible terrain to supply industrial and domestic gas. Operators of these networks must ensure the safety, integrity and reliability of their pipelines but accurate detection of odourless and invisible gas leaks can be challenging and expensive.

HoverGuard™ flying over a city – Image: ABB
HoverGuard™ flying over a city – Image: ABB

ABB’s latest addition to its ABB Ability™ Mobile Gas Leak Detection System, HoverGuard™, provides the solution by finding leaks faster and more reliably than ever before.
HoverGuard detects, quantifies and maps leaks up to 100 metres from natural gas distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines, storage facilities, and other potential sources quickly, safely and reliably. It automatically generates comprehensive digital reports that summarise results and can be shared in minutes after a survey.
The cloud-connected, multi-gas solution is the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-based system to quantify the three most important greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and water vapour continuously while flying. Each greenhouse gas affects the environment differently and is present in the air in different amounts. The extremely fast response and high precision of the analyser allows scientists and researchers to reliably quantify greenhouse gas fluxes which provides important information when studying the complex environmental processes affecting climate and pollution.
Patented cavity enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy detects methane with a sensitivity more than 1,000 times higher and over 10 times faster than conventional leak detection tools. This sensitivity and speed allows HoverGuard to detect leaks while flying at altitudes of 40 metres, or higher, and at speeds greater than 88 km/h. It can cover 10-15 times more land area per minute by operating on low-cost commercial UAV capable of carrying a payload of 3 kg.
HoverGuard complements ABB’s existing gas leak detection offering with the vehicle-based MobileGuard™, hand-held MicroGuard™ and stationary EverGuard™ (to be launched later in 2021). They are all designed to operate independently. Combining them provides the most comprehensive platform to detect, map and quantify leaks with unprecedented speed, reliability and accuracy throughout the entire natural gas infrastructure, including upstream, midstream, downstream, and gas utilities.


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