Services for Natural Gas
Distribution Systems

As a multidisciplinary research and development laboratory, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI®) has served the natural gas industry for more than 50 years. The Institute has developed technologies and capabilities key to the safe operation of pipelines and natural gas distribution systems. These capabilities include:

  • Piping integrity management
  • Piping and system component evaluation
  • Energy and flow rate measurement

The SwRI Metering Research Facility is used to update and develop gas industry measurement standards and methods.


Piping Integrity Management

The Institute is internationally recognized for providing material property, corrosion, fracture mechanics, and failure analysis services for metallic and nonmetallic components. SwRI engineers offer technology development and services to support natural gas distribution and transmission systems.


Full-scale multiaxial pipe test facility determines burst and structural capacity of piping under stress from internal pressure, bending, and axial compression.


Piping and Component Evaluation

A 6,500-square foot structural materials laboratory provides extensive analytical capabilities for natural gas piping and piping component evaluations. This laboratory contains instrumentation and data acquisition hardware to measure properties such as

  • Tensile and compressive material properties
  • Fatigue, fatigue crack growth, corrosion fatigue, and fracture toughness properties
  • Specialized fracture behavior

SwRI is evaluating the performance of impressed current cathodic protection anodes for use with pipelines to facilitate more robust and technically sound selection criteria.

Energy and Flow Rate Measurement

Recognized as the gas industry's premier test and research facility for natural gas measurement in the United States, the GTI Metering Research Facility (MRF) at SwRI provides test information used to develop and update gas industry measurement standards. The simulated field conditions available at the MRF make it an ideal test bed for gas meter development and calibration.


SwRI engineers have evaluated plastic distribution pipe failures associated with fusion joints as well as in-service repair sleeves.

This brochure was published in May 2003. For more information about services for natural gas distribution systems, contact Ed Bowles, Phone (210) 522-2086, Fax (210) 4506, Mechanical Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, or Richard Biljetina, SwRI Gas Industry Programs, Chicago Office, 5122 W. Morse Avenue, Skokie, Illinois 60077, Phone: (847) 679-4022, Fax: (847) 679-2206.

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