Virtual Pipeline System Testbed to Optimize the U.S. Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline System

Sponsoring Organization: Department of Energy National Energy Technology Lab

The objective of the proposed research is to develop and integrate compressor station and pipeline system component computer models into the Virtual Pipeline System Testbed (VPST). The VPST will simulate a pipeline system by determining the system pressures and gas flow rates, the emitted pollutant emissions, the fuel consumed, and the system “charge” as a function of time. Included in the VPST are the compressor stations and the pipe that connects these compressor stations, gas supply sources, blocking valves, metering stations, and the end-user demand markets. Users will describe all portions of a pipeline system in as much or as little detail as necessary to achieve the desired goal of the simulation. The merit of this proposal is that for the first time, a technology will be developed that integrates pipeline component algorithms to optimize and increase the reliability of the U.S. pipeline system.

The VPST will include optimization algorithms to identify the most reliable and lowest cost path to deliver natural gas to the consumer. These algorithms will use the component models integrated into VPST. The VPST will run under a software architecture that utilizes parallel computing to complete the simulation in a workable period of time. Sample calculations have already been completed, and show that the time frame on a stand-alone computer is less than one day with the addition of parallel processing and improvements in computer hardware over the next three years.

The Virtual Pipeline System Testbed is sponsored by a grant from the Department of Energy. It is a collaborative research project conducted at Kansas State University in the National Gas Machinery Laboratory by faculty and graduate students in the departments of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and Computing and Information Sciences.