Research in the network
In 2007, the DVGW’s cooperation with affiliated and external research institutes brought numerous important projects to a close. The focus was in particular on the fields of gas application technology and water protection, both under the lead aspect of climate protection. Research into the safety and maintenance of gas networks also remained an important topic in view of the ongoing regulation and unbundling in the gas industry.
Taking into consideration the results of a survey among member companies, the research program gas was relaunched in 2007. As the high rate of return of questionnaires showed, the gas supply industry’s interest in the DVGW’s research and development work is great. In particular network-related subjects and metrology are of great significance for the companies. The research field natural gas vehicles continues to meet with response, but the priority remains on the development of new, innovative gas application technologies in the domestic field.
Combined heat and power generation for the domestic field
Due to the principle of combined heat and power eneration,small combined heat and power units provide an efficient means of generating heat and power in the domestic sector. A sophisticated – and because of its »clean« mode of operation – ideal technology for heat and power generation is the Stirling principle. Since 2005, the DVGW has been promoting a project studying two micro heat and power units installed in single-family houses and operating with Stirling motor systems. Evaluation of the field tests for the first heating period has in the meantime been completed and reveals that the Stirling technology is well suited for use in single-family houses.
Air conditioning with gas
Another topic in the field of application technology is the air conditioning of inside rooms with the aid of natural gas. A disadvantage of conventional air conditioning systems is their large primary energy requirement, which is caused by the operating principle of the surface radiator. Instead of conventional air-cooling, the system developed in the scope of the DVGW project uses a sorption method to continuously dehumidify and cool the air. This technology provides a good example of the diversity of applications for which natural gas can be used, which are not exhausted for a long time yet.
Biogas continues to be on the advance
Against the background of the climate discussion, biomass is gaining more and more weight in power generation. Both liquid manure and energy crops are suitable as source material for the generation of biogas. The possible uses of processed biogas correspond roughly to those of natural gas. Provided that it conforms to the system of rules, biogas can be fed into the existing gas network at relatively little cost. Up to 13 percent of today’s natural gas consumption is to be substituted by gas from biomass by the year 2030.
Apart from a survey to determine the potential of biogas that was already completed in 2006, the DVGW promotes several further projects in connection with this topic. The focus is on the treatment of biogases to achieve the required quality for input into the gas network. For this, carbon di xide, hydrogen sulfide and water have to be removed from the raw biogas. The effects on the gas supply materials and the development of a recommended course of action for the input of biogas into raw gas networks in conformity with the rules are further research topics.
Focus on network safety
Another central topic is the development of maintenance strategies to optimize network operations. By means of material testing, also while pipelines are in operation, the integrity of the networks is checked and safeguarded for the consumer’s protection. IT solutions are increasingly resorted to for improvement of the maintenance tools, so that appropriate maintenance planning and scheduling can be guaranteed. The development of new cost-effective pipe laying methods continuesto be a research topic.