Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) has partnered with Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) in the US to demonstrate hydrogen drone technology for the inspection of natural gas pipelines.

Research, development, and training organisation GTI is also a part of the initiative.

DMI will demonstrate the DS30 drone system, which has a maximum payload of up to 11 pounds, and offers up to 120 minutes of flight time.

The hydrogen-powered drone is capable of monitoring a 1-mile-long pipeline in a single flight.

Using the DS30 drone, SoCalGas is planning to undertake inspections of natural gas pipeline assets.

The firm said that the use of the drone would improve maintenance of the pipeline system.

As part of the demonstration, the DS30 will provide close-up digital photography of locations that are difficult to access.

It will also provide imagery for aerial mapping and three-dimensional topographic models to provide deeper insight on terrains surrounding the asset.

SoCalGas clean energy innovations vice-president Neil Navin said: “This hydrogen-powered drone offers an opportunity to more efficiently monitor our pipelines in hard to access areas, allowing us to collect more data to quickly solve potential pipeline integrity issues.

“This project is a great demonstration on the versatility of hydrogen and its broad range of applications as a clean fuel of the future.”

The drone system is designed to provide a video record of construction sites, pipeline routes, open trenches, and working conditions.

GTI R&D director Ted Barnes said: “Our role is to support the integration of hydrogen into new technologies, and this partnership allows us to utilise our capabilities while working with leaders in the field.”

Last year, SoCalGas committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations by 2045.

In 2021, Neptune and EDF began using drones to monitor offshore methane emissions.