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CenSCIR to Work on Instrumented Pipeline Initiative

Article Posted On 10/13/2008

The Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research (CenSCIR) recently signed a contract with Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) to work on an instrumented pipeline initiative with the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The objective of this initiative is to address two high priority areas: sensors and safety, as identified in the Department of Energy (DOE) National Gas Infrastructure Research and Development Delivery Reliability Program Roadmap.

CenSCIR Co-Director and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering José M.F. Moura, principal investigator of this initiative, explains that CenSCIR will research technologies to monitor pipeline delivery integrity and safety concerns, using a network of active sensors and controllers to detect and diagnose defects, leaks, and failures that can then be targeted for specific examination. The CenSCIR team will develop and use a network of sensors, integrating advanced communications, computing, and decision making for the uninterrupted supervision of pipeline systems. He says, "Our work addresses an important problem. For example, in 2004 alone, as reported by the American Gas Association, about 300 incidents occurred along the entire gas delivery network. The goal is that by continuously monitoring the pipelines, we can avoid loss of life, property, and interruption of service. This project fits well with CenSCIR's Sensor Andrew initiative that will support ubiquitous sensing of the Carnegie Mellon campus by deploying all over the campus a dense network of sensing wireless platforms."

Executive Director of CenSCIR says: "This research initiative will help to enable our nation's natural gas infrastructure to be monitored by an active, real-time system, rather than a passive system that cannot react to changing conditions and defects. We hope to leverage promising research from other cyber-physical infrastructure domains and apply it to difficult natural gas pipeline maintenance and management issues."

The nation's natural gas pipelines consist of more than 1.4 million miles of transmission and distribution pipelines and bulk gas storage reservoirs. The team will create a research, development, and testing program to detect, identify, and prevent at an early stage, material defects, pipe faults, gas leakages, or major damage due to natural disasters or human attacks.

The project partners Concurrent Technologies Corporation, a national, independent non-profit organization and Carnegie Mellon University. The project will be performed under the oversight of DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Carnegie Mellon's CenSCIR, housed within ICES, will conduct the engineering research required within the project, while CTC will provide logistical and technical input and oversight to the project.

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