Collaborative Technology Development for Infrastructure Construction, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation

Efforts at GTI are enabling utilities to reduce risk, enhance operational efficiency, and maintain the safety and reliability of the natural gas system. Major areas of expertise include next generation materials such as higher-performance PE pipes and fittings, PA11 and PA12 high-pressure plastics, and composite materials.

We are developing new tools and techniques for system installations, repairs, and rehabilitation. Keyhole technologies are one of the primary construction innovations our researchers are focused on, as they allow utilities and their contractors to expose and perform repair and maintenance work on their underground pipe and other facilities without resorting to more costly and disruptive conventional excavation methods. Our experts are closely engaged with LDCs and leading manufacturers to commercialize new technology.

A myriad of exciting new tools and hardware being developed by GTI with funding from Operations Technology Development (OTD) are preventing damage, enhancing operational efficiency, and increasing safety.

Intrinsically Locatable Polyethylene (PE) Pipe Materials

With OTD funding, GTI and 3M have joined forces to develop and test a via­ble solution for intrinsically locatable polyethylene (PE) pipe materials. The system builds on existing 3M EMS ball marker locator technology which uses material resonators for path marking. It offers precise location without tracer wires or accurate maps. By applying the marker directly to the plastic pipe, installation time is reduced and the system offers greater accuracy, integrity, and ease of use.

Breakaway Fitting

A breakaway fitting to enhance gas system safety is a low-cost option to reduce risk to aboveground Meter Set Assemblies (MSAs) when impacted by outside forces, such as vehicular impact. The breakaway fitting supported by OTD and being commercialized by OPW can be installed directly to new and existing meter sets to stop the flow of gas when impacted and reduce the risk of a leak, fire, explosion, and/or property damage. Field testing at several U.S. utilities received very positive feedback.

Keyhole Technologies

GTI is the industry’s source for the development, testing, and introduction of innovative keyhole technologies for utility system repairs and renovations. Excavation and restoration expenses cost U.S. natural gas companies more than $1 billion annually. GTI’s Keyhole Consortium—comprised of over 30 members from manufacturers and utilities—promotes the use of trenchless techniques that substantially decrease excavation and restoration costs while reducing public inconveniences and increasing safety. Some of GTI’s most significant keyhole developments include information on the establishment of keyhole standards, a keyhole pipeline inspection camera system, tooling database, and “how to” videos.

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