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US DOE to invest $25M in gas infrastructure technology projects

The U.S. Energy Department announced it will invest nearly $25 million in 16 projects designed to improve the safety and efficiency of natural gas production and transportation infrastructure.

The Jan. 3 announcement caps the DOE's hunt for projects that can mitigate emissions and boost efficiency from gas pipelines, process flared gas into usable products, and validate advanced technologies for methane detection and measurement. The department's Office of Fossil Energy will invest between $955,000 and $3 million in each project.

A surge in U.S. oil and gas production has focused attention on improving the nation's infrastructure, including reducing planet-warming methane emissions from midstream operations and preventing gas from being burned as waste or vented into the atmosphere during oil production.

"This administration is committed to providing cost-effective, responsible technologies to advance natural gas operations across the United States," U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a news release. "With the U.S. positioned as the world's top producer of natural gas, DOE is proud to be a global leader in gas technology [research and development]."

The department selected six methane emissions mitigation projects and will pitch in $8.4 million in funding. The projects include self-healing pipeline seals under development at the University of Tulsa and electrochemical sensors being pioneered at the University of New Mexico to distinguish pipeline methane emissions from other sources.

Nine technologies that aim to find a use for gas associated with oil production attracted $14.8 million in DOE co-financing. These include six projects to upgrade methane into products through catalytic conversion and three technologies to convert the gas into carbon products using modular equipment and design concepts.

A final project at Colorado State University to "accelerate the adoption of natural gas leak detection and quantification" solutions received $1.5 million in financing.