ABB Introduces Drone-based Gas Leak Detection and Greenhouse Gas Quantification System

April 29, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

ABB releases its mobile, cloud-connected drone-based detection and measurement system for natural gas pipelines and greenhouse gas emissions.

ABB recently introduced a new system that aims to provide faster and more reliable detection of pipeline gas leaks and measurement of greenhouse gas emissions. HoverGuard is ABB’s latest addition to its ABB Ability Mobile Gas Leak Detection System. 


Video used courtesy of ABB


The solution is one of the first aerial vehicle (UAV)-based systems that can quantify the greenhouse gases methane, water vapor, and carbon dioxide continuously while flying.


The Importance of Gas Leak Detection

Natural gas has become an important commodity to the U.S. economy. With advances in drilling extraction methods, it is one of the fastest-growing energy resources in the nation. 

Pipeline gas leaks can be challenging to detect because of the odorless nature of the gas, the difficulty of site accessibility, and the expensive nature of current methods of detection. Both non-optical and optical methods can be used for gas leak detection. 

Although some of these methods are highly sensitive, they can be slow and limited by the range of detection. ABB set out to create a solution to common gas detection issues. 


ABB’s New HoverGuard

ABB’s HoverGuard is a cloud-connected, multi-gas solution. It can detect, quantify, and map natural gas leaks from distribution and transmission pipelines, gathering lines, storage facilities, and other potential sources. 


ABB’s HoverGuard in action high. Image used courtesy of ABB


It can detect leaks up to 100 meters from the source and automatically generates detailed digital reports. The HoverGuard utilizes patented cavity-enhanced laser absorption spectroscopy that detects methane with sensitivity over 1,000 times higher. 

ABB believes that control engineers and climate experts can use the HoverGuard to quantify fluctuations in greenhouse gasses with these capabilities. This can provide information to help engineers understand climate change implications.

The HoverGuard can detect leaks while flying at 40 meters high by speeding through the sky at 88 km/h. The solution, combined with ABB’s existing gas leak detection offering, includes the MobileGuard, hand-held MicroGuard, and stationary EverGuard which is launching later this year. 


Gas Emission Data

Together, these solutions may provide comprehensive gas leak and greenhouse gas emission data for operators and scientists to utilize in pipeline maintenance and climate monitoring. 


ABB's gas leak detection platform. Image used courtesy of ABB


In a recent press release, Doug Baer, ABB Global Product Line Manager of Laser Analyzers, commented, “ HoverGuard represents an important step-change in gas leak detection and for the environment.” 

“Previously inspectors had to rely on slow, qualitative, analog sensors or expensive delicate cameras to find leaks,” Baer concluded. 

ABB hopes their latest drone-based gas leak detection and greenhouse gas quantification system will help plant managers streamline their gas detection capabilities.