Technological innovation and research
Through its subsidiaries, Snam is involved in some particularly interesting and innovative activities aimed at ensuring the increasing reliability in the management of its activities.
Snam is part of the European Gas Research Group, www.gerg.info, through which it can share research and innovation projects and establish synergies with other European transporters and distributors of natural gas.
Snam is also a member of the European Pipeline Research Group, www.eprg.net, an association that researches pipeline-related topics and counts Europe’s biggest gas transportation and pipeline manufacturing companies among its members. Within this framework, projects (divided into three broad areas: Design, Materials and Corrosion) are in place to continually improve expertise in managing the integrity of methane pipelines throughout their life cycle. Currently, the main projects of interest to Snam are: the effects of cathodic protection on pipes that have suffered mechanical damage; the experimental evaluation of the resistance of curves created using cold bending; the study of a new model for evaluating the integrity of pipelines subjected to mechanical damage; the monitoring of the effects on pipes interred in land that is unstable to varying degrees.
In partnership with the Politecnico di Milano, an energy efficiency study is under way on the application of high-efficiency cogeneration systems in compression stations, with a view to reducing electricity costs and increasing the overall energy efficiency of the gas compression process. In distribution, we are at the study phase of a project to install a turboexpansion-cogeneration plant that would turn the potential energy lost into electricity when the pressure of the gas is reduced. In addition, following a pilot project, we have adopted an innovative mechanical and pneumatic system to control and modulate the capacity of regulating and metering stations (REMIs) and of final reduction groups (GRFs). This system maximises the efficiency of the pre-heating system (where present) and restricts average noise emissions.
In transport telemetry, an initiative is under way to develop the technology of remote control and monitoring equipment for the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, with a view to further improving the efficiency and performance of field data acquisition processes. In 2013, we also launched the “Sistema Manutenzione Asset Rete Trasporto Gas” (SMART GAS) project, with the aim of improving maintenance efficiency through an overhaul of work processes and rules relating to the transportation network, the compression stations, and the remote control and metering facilities, identifying the necessary changes to the professional model of ICT and technological instruments and resources used during maintenance activities.
In gas distribution, we continued work on the technological innovation project relating to large-calibre ultrasound meters installed at the regulating and metering stations (REMIs), monitoring them and comparing their results against those of traditional meters. We also continued to research innovative (ultrasonic and mass flow) and compact (with integrated remote reading and conversion system) meters. With regard to remote metering, we continued work on the “Remote Metering Information System” project that aims to design and create an information system for remote metering activities and to manage the operating, organisational and change-management aspects of implementing said system. In 2013, we completed work on the creation of the part of the system dedicated to mass usage (meters ≥ G10).
With regard to anti-seismic measures taken to protect buildings, we continued work on the only project in Italy involving practical testing of a Japanese valve system that can intercept gas flows to important buildings (hospitals, schools, etc.) in the event of seismic activity.