Technological innovation and research activities

Snam Rete Gas is directly involved in several innovative activities, especially to ensure growing reliability in the management of the transportation of natural gas in Italy. In particular, several innovative technologies (panchromatic and multispectral optical sensors, altimetric laser sensors and hyperspectral scanners) are being developed to monitor the transportation network for external interference and areas of geological instability using aerial surveillance and the digital processing of the signals received.

In Europe, Snam Rete Gas is a member of GERG (European Gas Research Group, www.gerg.info), a group where research and innovation projects can be proposed and shared in synergy with other European entities interested in the same issues with the advantage of sharing costs, experience and results. In 2010 Snam Rete Gas participated in several projects through this group including as project leader.

An experiment was concluded to assess the performance of new solutions proposed for the outer coating of buried steel pipelines with an emphasis on comparing them with commonly used products and applying the strictest international testing standards. An assessment was completed of state-of-the-art systems in the European transportation sector to detect natural gas emissions from components of the transportation networks. An experimental study is about to be completed to assess the ability to weld steel for pipelines using the “Friction Stir Welding” process, taking into account mechanical performance (with respect to current standards and in comparison to traditional welding processes) and economic implications which could result from this innovative transposition in pipeline applications of this emerging technology in other industrial sectors. An experimental assessment of two systems is underway (acoustical sampling technologies) proposed by the industry for reporting and pinpointing in real time the impact of outside interference on pipelines.

Snam Rete Gas is also a member of EPRG (European Pipeline Research Group, www.eprg.net), whose members are entities which transport gas or manufacture pipelines in Europe. This group manages projects (broken down into three major areas: Design, Material and Corrosion) with an aim to constantly improve the knowledge and management of the integrity of gas pipelines throughout their life cycle (pipe manufacturing, pipeline construction and operation). In particular, an advanced model is being studied to assess the impact on pipe integrity of damage resulting from third party interference with pipelines (for this activity, experience and data are being shared with the PRCI - Pipeline Research Council International). Models are being modifi ed and compared (by validation using experimental data) for predicting the ability of pressurised pipelines subjected to combined external loads to withstand extreme conditions. The correlation between the composition of the mix of natural gas and the effects of its expansion in pipelines of a known durability is being analysed. A recommendation is being prepared to perform non-destructive automated ultrasound controls during the production of pipes. An experimental study is underway concerning the environmental impact on the residual mechanical strength of damaged pipes.