COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Ameren Illinois introduces a new “gas sniffing” car that can quickly identify the presence of methane emissions, pinpoint the source of potential leaks and speed the response time to repair pipelines.

“Ameren Illinois inspects thousands of miles of underground pipeline in neighborhoods every year, and we have reduced methane emissions to industry-low levels,” said the vice president of Natural Gas Operations for Ameren Illinois Eric Kozak. “This new mobile technology we’re introducing will supplement our existing leak-detection practices and provide up to 1,000 times the sensitivity to help detect methane in the atmosphere. We believe this technology will enable us to significantly reduce methane emissions and strengthen the safety and reliability of our natural gas distribution system.”

Officials said the “gas sniffer” works by deploying a high-tech analyzer on the rear of a hybrid electric car. As the car drives through city streets, it detects the presence of methane and ethane and passes air samples to a device that records wind speed and directional readings. Ameren Illinois crews use GPS coordinates to pinpoint the location and mobilize response units. The technology is powered by ABB MobileGuard™ and is capable of detecting methane gas presence hundreds of feet away.

“We have made significant investments in upgrading pipelines to increase system integrity,” said the senior vice president of Operations and Technical Services for Ameren Illinois David Wakeman. “It has been exciting for our whole team to see the mobile sniffer in action, and realize the benefits we can pass on to our customers in the form of safer operations.”

“This technology helps support our goal of environmental stewardship while serving customers in a safe, reliable way,” said Ameren Illinois Chairman and President Richard Mark. “It’s a win for the environment, our operations teams and our customers.”