Batelle Memorial InstituteDevelopment of a portable detection system that uses an optical nondispersive infrared method for measuring water and methanol levels in propane.

Design a Portable Handheld Water Detector for Propane (Docket 15192) — $213,500
Use of Methanol for Controlling Water Freezing in LP Gas (Docket 11992) — $109,000

Challenge The presence of excess water in propane can cause valves and regulators to freeze in cold weather, leading to operational problems that affect the performance of propane-fueled technologies. Adding methanol to propane can help to limit excess water, but marketers must first know the water content in order to determine how much should be added. Currently available methods for determining water and methanol content in propane lack the reliability and portability necessary to be effective in the field. Battelle Memorial Institute partnered with PERC to research and develop a portable handheld water detector for the propane industry.

Partnership with PERCPERC supported Battelle in the development of a demonstration test model and initial guidelines for the commercial operation of a handheld water detector, a portable device that allows marketers to easily determine the levels of water and methanol present in propane while in the field. The battery-powered device uses the light absorption characteristics of water and methanol to determine their specific concentrations and produces quantitative data for marketers and technicians to use in determining how much methanol to add.

With PERC support, Battelle designed, tested, and validated the handheld water detector. Battelle used the information gathered in the testing phase to adjust the device’s algorithm parameters to maximize the ability of the algorithm to cover the range of variance observed in the more than 100 fuel samples collected for testing purposes. Prior to this project, Battelle partnered with PERC to study the use of methanol to prevent freezing in propane. The resulting report, Use of Methanol for Controlling Water Freezing in LP Gas, provided a great deal of technical information and background that Battelle used to support this effort.

Result Battelle completed the testing and validation of the handheld water detector and is in the process of working with PERC to bring the device to market.

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  • Enables marketers to test water and methanol content in the field with one piece of equipment.
  • Prevents equipment corrosion and phase separation issues.
  • Avoids costs incurred by freezing and clogging of propane regulators and valves.

For more information Download the Fact Sheet Download the Project ReportVisit PERC's fuel parameters and analysis page