SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is pleased to announce that François Rongere, Manager of Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation within the company’s Gas Operations, was honored today by the American Gas Association as the 2018 recipient of the John B. McGowan, Sr. Research Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual or company who has made an outstanding contribution to improving natural gas system safety, delivery, design, construction, operation, maintenance or efficiency through their research efforts.
Rongere was recognized for his visionary work to develop predictive and proactive technologies and tools that enhance the safety, reliability, affordability and reduced emissions of PG&E’s natural gas system. Under his leadership, PG&E works collaboratively with other forward-thinking companies, research institutions and government agencies to develop tools for PG&E, often with the goal to make them available to the global natural gas industry. Some of these new tools now used by PG&E and others in the energy industry include:
- Picarro leak detection: A vehicle-mounted anemometer that measures wind speed and collects air samples and measures methane in parts per billion. Combined with sensors and computer software inside the car, the technology measures the amount of methane in the air. Prior to PG&E’s deployment of vehicles equipped with Picarro leak detection technology, leak surveys were primarily conducted on foot.
- Pipetel Explorer: A customized robot able to travel inside transmission pipelines, in which complex geometry or operation conditions prevent the use of traditional gas propelled devices. The tool captures detailed information about the inside of the pipe without disrupting gas service to PG&E customer.
- GPS based Damage Prevention system: This solution automatically detects when heavy equipment used for construction and farming dig in the vicinity of a buried pipeline to alert the machine operator and the pipeline owner.
- NASA Sensor as Gas Leak Detection: In collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, PG&E has championed the adaptation and testing of laser-based technology that was originally built for Curiosity to find methane on Mars. Light and very sensitive, this instrument is ideal for handheld devices and has enabled the use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for leak detection and localization.
- As-built electronic field data collection for new Distribution plastic assets: Directly used by construction crews, this solution leverages ASTM 2897 material traceability standard and high accuracy GPS to document and record in real time the geometry and characteristics of gas pipelines and fitting as they are installed.
Strongly involved with the gas industry R&D consortia, François is the Chairman of the Research Steering Committee at PRCI, the Pipeline Research Council International, and of NYSEARCH, the R&D committee of the Northeast Gas Association.
“François and our R&D team are developing transformational tools that help perform detailed analysis of our gas system in less time and with improved accuracy and safety. The intelligence gathered from these tools helps us drive toward our goal to be the safest, most reliable, affordable and clean energy company in the U.S.,” said PG&E Chief Operating Officer and President Nick Stavropoulos.
Francois joined PG&E’s emerging technology group within the energy efficiency department and drew on his 20 years of experience at Electricité de France to develop innovative methods to improve the performance of PG&E’s customer data centers and many other energy saving solutions. In 2012, François was enlisted to establish PG&E’s Gas Operations R&D and Innovation department.
“Francois is leading gas innovation at PG&E and has helped position us as a global leader on the development of new technologies. By forming strategic relationships with leading innovators and some of the best scientific minds in the world, he and the R&D team have helped pioneer technologies that are advancing how we monitor, test and maintain our natural gas system. His work is integral to our commitment to deliver safe and reliable natural gas to our customers and communities,” said PG&E Gas Operations Senior Vice President Jesus Soto.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.