JACKSON — Consumers Energy is launching two SUVs equipped with mobile natural gas leak detection capabilities.

The two Ford Edge SUVs are equipped with a natural gas leak detection system developed by California-based Picarro Inc.

“The rolling labs can gather and instantly analyze methane, wind, atmospheric and GPS data to find natural gas leaks and calculate their risks,” according to a release from Consumers Energy.

The mobile labs feature “hardware, software and data analytics that’s one thousand times more sensitive than the process currently used to survey Consumers Energy’s nearly 28,000-mile distribution network,” according to the release.

The vehicles will collect and analyze methane data while traveling. The vehicles can provide “real-time information to identify leaks and target areas for further investigation,” according to the release.

Each of the new vehicles contain:

  • A parts-per-billion sensitivity gas analyzer measuring atmospheric gas composition and other tracers such as ethane.
  • An anemometer on a mast for detecting wind speed, direction and wind variability.
  • Two antennas on the vehicle roof, one for wireless connectivity and one for GPS positioning.
  • A 4G wireless router.

Consumers Energy provides natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million Michigan residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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