Press Releases

Picarro Launches Revolutionary Solution for Natural Gas Leak Detection and Management

Picarro Surveyor™ for Natural Gas Provides Rapid, Accurate Leak Detection for Improved Safety; PG&E Becomes World’s First Utility to Deploy the Technology

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Picarro, the world's leading provider of instruments for carbon and water cycle measurements, today introduced a first-of-its-kind solution for natural gas pipeline leak detection and measurement, based on the company’s proven and globally deployed Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CRDS) analyzers. The new solution, called Picarro Surveyor™ for Natural Gas Leaks, measures methane plumes in the air, maps them, and then immediately alerts users and repair teams upon leak detection in real-time while traveling at normal driving speeds. At an on-site demonstration today attended by federal, state and local elected officials and co-hosted by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Picarro also announced PG&E as the world’s first utility to embrace this solution for natural gas safety applications.

The Picarro Surveyor consists of instrument hardware mounted in a vehicle, and software running on P-Cubed™, Picarro’s cloud-based processing platform that uses patent-pending algorithms to analyze data that it wirelessly receives and stores during surveys. Because Picarro’s technology is up to a thousand times more sensitive and faster-scanning than incumbent technologies typically used on foot patrol, the Picarro Surveyor allows natural gas operators to survey for leaks at speeds previously impossible, while automatically mapping and displaying results in real time in a web browser for faster, more accurate leak detection. The combined features of the Picarro Surveyor solution stands to exponentially increase the frequency and accuracy of leak surveys for natural gas utilities.

“Technology is a must-have tool in helping us increase public and employee safety and the efficiency of our natural gas network,” said Nick Starvropoulos, executive vice president of PG&E gas operations. “We are excited about testing out Picarro’s natural gas leak detection analyzer.”

The solution combines ultra-trace methane concentration measurements in air with high-resolution GPS location, a time stamp and wind speed and direction. Natural gas is typically 95 percent methane. When the intuitive system suspects a natural gas leak, it automatically determines the stable isotope signature of the methane to confirm a methane source as natural gas and rule out false positives from naturally occurring methane, and analyzes the recorded wind speed and direction to indicate the likely location of leaks. The raw spectroscopic data, plume location, isotopic signature, wind data and the survey route are seamlessly uplifted, stored, processed and mapped in P-Cubed. All data are simultaneously available to vehicle operators, supervisors, response teams or anyone granted secure web access in real time. Users can choose to view their information on a tablet, desktop or even a mobile phone.

“We’re thrilled that PG&E is working swiftly to adopt our solution and proud that our technology will be used to help make communities safer,” said Michael Woelk, CEO of Picarro. “This solution stands to transform the energy industry’s leak detection programs by dramatically increasing the frequency of leak surveys and reducing false positives, while radically reducing the cost per survey. PG&E is clearly setting an example for other gas utilities around the world to follow.”

Picarro’s work with PG&E is the latest in a long string of industry firsts achieved by the company. Just last week, Picarro announced results from a benchmark study which measured real-time greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In 2010, the company was selected by the State of California to provide its analyzers for the country’s first statewide greenhouse gas monitoring network. The year prior, the company’s analyzers were chosen by the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) World Calibration Centre for Greenhouse Gases to conduct on-site system and performance audits of its Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) baseline stations.

Picarro produces the world's highest performance and easiest-to-use gas analyzers. The company’s analyzers serve a wide variety of markets including natural gas monitoring, atmospheric science, greenhouse gas measurement, air quality, food safety, hydrology, biomaterials testing, ecology, environmental consulting, semi-conductor, industrial process gas measurement and landfill gas measurement. With the highest precision and sensitivity level measurements, months or years of calibration-free operation, and a quick and easy set-up, this incredibly rare combination of attributes enables Picarro customers to make the highest quality measurements both in the modern lab and in the most remote locations imaginable.