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Research Development & Demonstration (RD&D) Annual Report

REDUCING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT FOR US AND OUR CUSTOMERS.

The RD&D Program seeks to advance and champion technologies that support widespread access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy for all Californians. Read on for access to the annual reports, the latest technological innovations and spotlight projects.

2020 Annual Report Spotlights

  • Researchers working in a lab

    Innovative Process Makes Clean Cement and Low-or Zero-Carbon Hydrogen

    Recently, SoCalGas collaborated with Brimstone Energy on the development of a prototype system that, once fully commercialized, could dramatically reduce GHG emissions from two of these four major emitters, hydrogen and cement. The prototype builds on earlier proof-of-concept work completed by Brimstone’s founders while completing graduate research at Caltech.
     

 

  • CO2-free process

    New CO2-Free Process Produces Hydrogen From Natural Gas

    SoCalGas recently co-funded the development of a novel patent-pending methane pyrolysis process for producing CO2-free hydrogen while simultaneously producing highly valuable carbon coproducts. This project may help reach California's goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

     

 

  • SOCALGAS IDEA LEADS TO ADOPTION OF NEW EMISSION TESTING METHODS

    SoCalGas Idea Leads To Adoption Of New Emission Testing Methods

    The U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards require that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and local agencies regulate the exhaust emissions of criteria pollutants, including nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and carbon monoxide (CO). To verify compliance with the emission limits, facilities conduct expensive and complicated tests using EPA Reference Methods. Although highly effective, the EPA-approved test methods were complex and time consuming. Developed many decades ago, the test methods did not take advantage of technology advancements that could be used to simplify the method. Research published in 2012 by Gregg Arney and Firas Hamze of SoCalGas confirmed that it was possible to simplify test methods for the portable electrochemical analyzers for emissions at low levels.
     

 

  • Image of drone

    Drones Inspect Difficult-To-Access Gas Facilities, Pipelines, and Meters

    Every year, SoCalGas delivers approximately 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 22 million residential, industrial, and commercial customers across a service territory encompassing more than 20,000 square miles. To maintain the safety, integrity, and reliability of this network, SoCalGas inspects each meter and every inch of pipeline. In response to this challenge—as well as the requirements of California’s SB 1371, which mandated the adoption of procedures to reduce methane emissions from pipeline facilities—the SoCalGas RD&D Program sought to advance the development of a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) for use in the inspection of gas facilities, meters, and pipelines that are remote or difficult to access.
     

 

  • Image of a terminal truck

    Zero-Emissions for California Ports (ZECAP) Project to Develop and Demonstrate Hydrogen Fuel Cell Yard Trucks

    In 2019, SoCalGas, GTI, ZEN Clean Energy Solutions, and several technology developers and equipment manufacturers began collaborating on the Zero-Emissions for California Ports (ZECAP) project—funded in part by the California Air Resources Board—to develop and demonstrate two zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell yard trucks at port terminals operated by TraPac at the Port of Los Angeles.
     

 

  • BREAKTHROUGH AC SYSTEM REDUCES ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION BY 60–80%

    AC System Reduces Electricity Consumption By 60-80%

    Modern air conditioning (AC) provides comfort and drives productivity and commerce. Unfortunately, it comes at a high cost, producing GHG emissions and utilizing harmful refrigerants. To address this cost, Blue Frontier is developing an innovative AC system that will eliminate some of the most harmful side effects of conventional AC, while keeping buildings more comfortable. To advance this technology, Blue Frontier collaborated with SoCalGas, Energy and Environmental Economics, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on a multi-phase project.
     

 

  • image of water heater

    Innovative Residential Water Heater Moves Towards Commercialization

    Water heating accounts for 7% of residential carbon dioxide emissions. A new generation of gas-fired water heaters that utilize a heat pump to capture ambient heat and preheat the water could substantially reduce those emissions and achieve greater than 100% energy efficiency. With its aggressive decarbonization goals and widespread deployment of conventional residential gasfired water heaters, California is an ideal market for such a technology. Recognizing this opportunity, GTI— one of the nation’s leading gas R&D firms—collaborated with SoCalGas and other industry stakeholders on a project to field-test 4th-generation gas-fired heat pump water heater prototypes in homes in the Los Angeles basin.