Collaborative Technology Development for Infrastructure Construction, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation

Efforts at GTI Energy 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 Energy with funding from Operations Technology Development (OTD) are preventing damage, enhancing operational efficiency, and increasing safety.

Developing Intrinsically Locatable Polyethylene (PE) Pipe Materials

To enhance subsurface utility asset locating and prevent excavation damage, a project to optimize the manufacturing process of intrinsically locatable PE pipe materials is now underway. A viable technology that uses 3M material resonators attached directly to PE plastic pipe for path marking was developed and tested by GTI Energy and 3M with funding provided by OTD and PHMSA.

The flexible electronic markers reduce third-party damage and provide increased safety while reducing installation time and offering greater accuracy, integrity, and ease of use. The new project will confirm cost effectiveness at large-scale production and field test the piping.

Breakaway Fitting

A breakaway disconnect/shut-off 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 or snow and ice falling from building roofs. The breakaway fitting supported by Operations Technology Development (OTD) is now being brought to market as the HaloValve by Enerdine, a natural gas equipment manufacturer working closely with GTI Energy and OPW Engineered Systems.

The breakaway fitting 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 Energy 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 Energy’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 Energy’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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