Gas Distribution Systems: A Beginner's Guide

Author: CC

Mar. 07, 2024

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Tags: Measurement & Analysis Instruments

A gas distribution system, also known as a natural gas distribution system, is a network of pipelines that transports natural gas, primarily methane, from a production facility such as a refinery or bulk distributor to customers.

It is designed to ensure that the correct amount and pressure of gas reaches each customer and prevent any hazardous leaks in the process.

Gas distribution systems are an integral part of our daily lives, delivering gas to businesses across the country. They form an important part of modern infrastructure, enabling the safe and efficient delivery of natural gas products with minimal environmental impact. 

In this blog, consumers can look at what a gas distribution system is and how it works. It will also discuss why they are so important to our society, and the potential risks associated with their use. 

Finally, consumers can explore some of the current methods used for managing the safety and reliability of these systems.

Equipments Used in Gas Distribution System

Source: Freepik

The delivery and distribution of gas are critical aspects of the energy industry. Ensuring the safe and efficient transport of this essential resource requires an extensive network of pipelines and equipment.

This includes the installation of pipelines, which typically transport the gas from production sites to processing plants and storage facilities. Additionally, there must be specialized equipment to regulate and control the flow of the gas itself. 

Here are some examples of the various equipment types utilized in gas distribution systems.

Gas Regulators

A gas regulator is an equipment that controls the pressure at which gas is supplied from a high-pressure source to a lower-pressure system.

In a gas distribution system, gas regulators are used to control the pressure of natural gas or propane as it travels from the main supply line to individual buildings or toward the consumers.

This is important because the pressure of the gas must be regulated to ensure that it is delivered safely and efficiently to the appliances and heating systems that use it.

It reduces the pressure of the incoming gas to a level that is safe for use in the distribution system and helps to maintain a consistent and reliable flow of gas to consumers.

Pressure- Reducing Valves

Pressure-reducing valves are an essential component of any fluid system with high pressure and are used by industrial ball valve manufacturer to provide customers with a safe and efficient means of controlling and reducing pressure in gas distribution systems.

By automatically adjusting the flow of gas to maintain a constant output pressure, PRVs help to ensure a consistent and reliable supply of gas to the appliances and heating systems that use it.

PRVs also play a critical role in maintaining the stability of the gas distribution system by preventing overpressure in the pipelines and protecting against pressure fluctuations caused by changes in demand or other factors.

Industrial ball valve manufacturers understand the importance of PRVs in maintaining the safety and efficiency of gas distribution systems and work to provide high-quality and reliable PRV products to meet the needs of their customers. Whether it is for commercial or industrial applications, PRVs are a critical component of any gas distribution system.

Compressors

These are mechanical devices that increase the pressure of a gas or air by reducing its volume. In a gas distribution system, compressors are used to compress natural gas or propane, increasing its pressure and making it possible to transport it over long distances through pipelines.

It plays a vital role in the gas distribution system by helping to maintain the pressure of the gas as it moves from the source to the end user.

They are usually located at various points along the pipeline and are used to boost the pressure of the gas as needed, compensating for pressure losses that occur due to friction and other factors.

They are designed to operate continuously and reliably, ensuring that gas is delivered safely and efficiently to consumers. 

Flow Meters

Flow meters are an essential instrument for a number of industries, providing precise measurements of the rate or quantity of flow in a system. It can be used to calculate the volume of water, gas, or other liquid flowing through a pipe.

It has numerous applications, including industrial processes, medical applications, and environmental research. Flow meters work by measuring various parameters, such as the velocity, pressure, or temperature of the gas, to calculate its flow rate.

There are different types of flow meters, including ultrasonic, differential pressure, and Coriolis meters, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Leak Detectors

Leak Detectors are an invaluable piece of diagnostic technology that detects the presence of leaks in a variety of different applications. Leak detectors can detect anything from small, microscopic cracks or punctures to large, gaping holes in pipelines, walls, or roofs.

Most commonly, leak detectors are used to detect gas or water leaks, but they can also be used for other liquids and gasses. 

Leak detectors are essential in a gas distribution system for ensuring the safety of people and property, as well as preventing the release of gas into the environment. They are typically used by gas distribution companies, pipeline operators, and safety regulators to monitor the distribution network for signs of leaks and to respond quickly if a leak is detected.

Check Valves

This is a mechanical device that allows the free flow of liquid or gas in one direction while preventing it from flowing in the reverse direction. They are one-way valves used to prevent backflow in piping systems and often act as safety devices against sudden pressure surges.

They are typically found at the intake manifolds of pumps, boilers, compressors, and other machines requiring protection from a potential reverse flow

Check valves are important components in a gas distribution system as they prevent backflow, ensuring that gas is delivered to its intended destination and reducing the risk of pressure fluctuations and equipment damage.

Filters and Traps

Filters and traps are important components in a gas distribution system as they help to remove impurities and contaminants from the gas, ensuring the quality and safety of the gas being delivered. Contaminants can include dirt, dust, rust, moisture, and other particles that can cause damage to equipment or reduce the efficiency of the system.

Gas filters work by using a physical barrier, such as a mesh or screen, to remove impurities from the gas as it passes through. This helps to ensure that the gas being delivered to consumers is clean and free from contaminants.

Gas traps, on the other hand, work by using a physical barrier, such as a ball or float, to trap and remove contaminants from the gas. This helps to prevent damage to equipment and to maintain the quality and efficiency of the system.

Filters and traps play an important role in ensuring the safety of the gas distribution system. For example, removing moisture from the gas helps to prevent corrosion and damage to pipelines, while removing dirt and dust can prevent blockages and reduce the risk of leaks.

Control Instrumentation

Control instrumentation is important in a gas distribution system as it provides a means of monitoring and controlling the flow of gas within the system. Control instrumentation is used to measure various parameters such as pressure, temperature, flow rate, and level, and to control and regulate the flow of gas based on these measurements.

Some examples of control instrumentation used in a natural gas distribution system include pressure transmitters, flow meters, temperature sensors, and control valves.

The use of control instrumentation helps to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of gas to consumers by allowing for real-time monitoring and control of the gas distribution system. This helps to prevent over-pressure conditions, reduce the risk of leaks, and maintain the stability of the system.

Pumps

Pumps are an important component in a gas distribution system as they are used to move gas from one location to another within the system. This is used to increase the pressure of the gas and to transport it from the source to the consumer.

A gas distribution system uses a wide range of pumps, including positive displacement pumps, centrifugal pumps, and regenerative turbine pumps. The type of pump used depends on the specific requirements of the system, including the flow rate, pressure, and type of gas being transported. 

Pumps play a critical role in the gas distribution system by providing the necessary pressure and flow to transport gas from the source to the consumer. Without pumps, it would not be possible to move gas over long distances or to deliver it to consumers at the necessary pressure.

Safety Valves

Safety valves are an important component in any system. They are used to regulate the pressure and flow of fluids, such as hot water or steam. They are designed to open and release pressure when it reaches a certain level, preventing explosions or damage to the system. 

In conjunction with safety valves, industrial butterfly valves can be used to adjust the flow rate and pressure of the fluid, ensuring that it is delivered safely and efficiently to its intended destination.

In a system where both safety valves and butterfly valves are used, the safety valves can provide a backup in case of an emergency, while the butterfly valves can be used to control and regulate the flow of fluid on a day-to-day basis.

Benefits of Gas Distribution System

The gas distribution system provides many benefits to consumers, businesses, and the overall economy. By providing a reliable, cost-effective, and versatile source of energy, the gas distribution system plays a critical role in promoting energy security, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

By ensuring a reliable supply of gas, the gas distribution system enables consumers and businesses to access natural gas on demand, as a result it is one of the most utilized forms of energy in many parts of the world. Here are some of its benefits:

Reduced Transportation Costs

Due to the existence of a gas supply system, natural gas can be distributed to business consumers in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The distribution system utilizes multiple components such as pipelines, storage facilities, pressure regulation, and control valves, which all work together to ensure that natural gas reaches its destination safely and on time. This ensures the reliable and efficient supply of natural gas to businesses, meetings the needs of customers in an economical way.

Increased Safety and Efficiency

Gas pipelines have built-in safety features, such as pressure regulators, that make sure the correct amount of gas is delivered safely to each customer. It also enables more efficient delivery with fewer losses.

Improved Air Quality

Natural gas is cleaner than other energy sources, resulting in improved air quality for residents and businesses.

Natural gas is also much more efficient than other forms of energy, requiring less of it to produce the same amount of energy. This further helps to reduce overall pollution levels in areas where natural gas is used.

Less Reliance on Foreign Oil

By utilizing domestic sources of energy, businesses, and consumers are less reliant on foreign oil. This helps create jobs and security for the economy.

This has a positive impact in multiple ways. For example, it increases job opportunities as more local sources of energy are created and maintained, helping to provide additional employment.

Additionally, relying less on foreign oil, provides greater security for the economy, reducing potential disruptions due to pricing changes or supply issues with overseas suppliers.

Environmentally Friendly

Natural gas is a carbon-neutral fuel source, meaning it does not release additional greenhouse gasses when used. Greenhouse gasses are substances that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to changes in our climate, including an increase in temperatures. This helps conserve the environment while still providing an efficient energy solution.

How Does Gas Distribution System Work

Gas distribution systems are complex networks of pipes and machines that are used to deliver natural gas from the source to the consumers. The system is divided into three parts: transmission, distribution, and service lines.

Transmission

A transmission line refers to a large diameter pipeline that transfers natural gas from the producing fields to local distribution networks. It is typically operated by a gas utility company and helps in controlling the pressure and flow rate of natural gas.

Transmission lines are the main transportation method used to move large amounts of natural gas from wellhead to processing plants, storage facilities, and local distribution systems.

Distribution

This is the mid-level transport system where the pressurized gas is delivered from the transmission line to smaller pipelines for further distribution within an urban area or a region. 

These pipelines are typically made of plastic or steel and help in transporting the gas to homes and businesses at a lower pressure.

The distribution company is responsible for managing the entire process of natural gas delivery, from the maintenance and inspection of pipelines to the regular meter readings, and the installation of new customer connections.

It also provides emergency services and other technical services. The distribution system consists of a local transmission line, which feeds gas from an upstream source, such as an interstate transmission line or storage facility.

Service Lines

The gas is then transported via service lines through smaller pipes that run along streets and connect to individual facilities and buildings. At this point, the pressure of the gas is regulated as per the required pressure specified by buildings or homes. Similarly, regulators also ensure that the pressure remains consistent even if there is a fluctuation in demand.

Finally, when the gas reaches its destination, it passes through a meter that measures both the amount of gas being consumed and its pressure level. These meters register data on consumption which will eventually be used to send the bill to the consumer.

Gas Distribution System Design and Operation Considerations

Gas distribution system design and operation considerations are of the utmost importance in order to ensure a safe, reliable, and cost-efficient gas delivery process. When designing and operating a gas distribution system, the following factors should be considered:

System Layout

The layout of the gas distribution system is paramount to its successful and safe operation. Careful consideration should be given when laying out pipelines, valves, and other components to ensure that the system is compliant with safety regulations and that operations can be performed efficiently.

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Gas Supply Sources

Gas supply sources must be identified and monitored for quality control purposes. The source must be able to provide sufficient supplies at the necessary pressure for end-user consumption. Additionally, continuity of supplies must be assured in the event of operational breakdown or maintenance works.

Pressure Regulation

Pressure regulation is an important aspect of any fluid system, including a gas distribution system. In order to maintain a stable delivery pressure, a series of pressure regulation devices, such as pressure regulators and flow control valves, should be installed throughout the pipeline network.

These device plays a critical role in ensuring a consistent flow rate throughout the system while also preventing any over-pressurization incidents. A reputable industrial valve manufacturer can provide high-quality pressure regulation devices that are designed and manufactured to meet the specific needs of the gas distribution system.

By partnering with a trusted company, operators of gas distribution systems can be confident that their pressure regulation devices will perform as expected, providing reliable and consistent pressure regulation for the life of the system.

Safety System

A safe and reliable gas supply system is critical to ensure that natural gas is delivered to consumers in a safe and efficient manner. In order to minimize the potential safety risks associated with gas leakage or accidental ignition events, a gas distribution system should incorporate safety features such as relief valves, emergency shutoff systems, and leak detection devices.

By incorporating these systems into the gas distribution system, operators can minimize the potential safety risks associated with gas leakage or accidental ignition events, ensuring a safe and reliable gas supply for consumers.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance should be conducted to ensure the system is operating at its peak performance. This includes regular inspection and testing of all equipment and components as well as monitoring of pipe corrosion levels.

It is crucial to ensure the safety, reliability, and efficiency of gas distribution systems. It helps to prevent any unexpected failures or malfunctions and helps to ensure that the system is operating at its peak performance at all times.

Meter Management

Proper meter management will help to maximize gas delivery efficiency and accuracy while also providing data regarding consumption patterns for billing or tracking purposes. Care should be taken to ensure that meters are properly calibrated and certified for use.

Conclusion

Gas distribution systems are a critical component of the energy infrastructure, providing a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way of natural gas delivery from production facilities to consumers.

By understanding the different components and designs of gas distribution systems, consumers can become more aware of their potential risks and benefits.

Systems need to be designed and operated with safety, efficiency, and reliability in mind to ensure a safe environment for all. With the proper equipment, maintenance, and meter management, gas distribution systems can be an essential part of our daily lives, providing us with a clean and efficient source of energy.

With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by gas distribution systems, valve manufacturer DomBor provides innovative and reliable valve solutions that ensure the safe and efficient delivery of natural gas to consumers.

The company’s high-quality industrial valves like oil and gas valve designed to meet the demands of modern gas distribution systems and are engineered to meet the highest industry standards. In addition to their top-performing valves, they offer expert technical support and maintenance services to ensure optimal performance and longevity of their products.

With a dedicated team of professionals, they are always available to answer any questions and provide support to ensure that every consumer’s gas distribution system is functioning at its best. Choose DomBor Valve as a partner in the gas distribution industry, contact them today!

If you are a fan of customizing or building AR-15s, you might have heard someone mention gas systems at some point. What is a gas system, what does it do, and what is the best gas tube length for your AR-15? By the end of this article, you will have answers to all these questions and the insights you need to pick the perfect gas system for your AR-15.

What Are Gas Systems?

Your AR-15 is a gas-operated, semiautomatic weapon. The gas system, also called the direct impingement gas system, consists of a small hole in the barrel called the gas port. The port vents gas generated by each fired shot, sending it through the gas block to the gas tube, which carries it to the bolt carrier group for semiautomatic firing.

The amount of gas fed to the bolt carrier group determines the force and speed with which the component moves and your gun cycles. If the supplied gas is too much, it will cause excessive recoil and wear out the bolt faster. On the other hand, inadequate gas supply can impede cycling and cause the gun to jam.

[Embed BA gas system lengths video here]

How Gas Systems Work

As mentioned, an AR-15 is a gas-operated rifle that cycles its system with gas pressure released when you fire a round. Cycle refers to the process of the bolt carrier group sliding backward to eject spent shells before sliding forward to chamber a fresh round from the magazine. The gas system eliminates the need to manipulate the bolt manually after each shot.

The gas released by a fired shot leaves the barrel through the gas port, enters the gas block, then travels through the gas tube. The tube takes the gas to the gas key attached to the bolt carrier group and slams the bolt back into the buffer and buffer spring. After the buffer spring has fully compressed, it will spring forward, returning the bolt carrier group to its starting position for another shot.

The gas that drives the gas system is the hot gasses that escape from a casing after you fire a round. The hot gas expands violently to propel bullets with enough velocity to fly and hit targets. The gas system captures some of that hot gas through the barrel port to manipulate the bolt carrier group.

Several AR gas system lengths are available, and the ideal gas tube length for your gun will depend on your barrel length and other factors. A longer gas tube will bring the gas port closer to the muzzle.

However, if the gas port is too close to the muzzle, especially in a long barrel, the gas pressure may be lower than ideal. Low pressure will lead to insufficient gas entering the tube to operate the bolt carrier group optimally.

Gas Blocks and Gas Tubes

The gas block regulates the amount of gas from a fired round that enters the gas tube and reaches the bolt carrier group for smooth cycling. It is ring-shaped, sits somewhere in the middle of the barrel, and different diameters are available.

The right gas block diameter for your barrel will depend on if you have a pencil, government, Hanson, or bull barrel. Each barrel is slightly different in diameter, and if the block isn’t a perfect fit, it can lead to gas escaping and under-gassing.

The gas tube is another essential part of your AR-15’s gas system. The tube sits over the barrel and takes the gas captured by the gas block to the bolt carrier group. The gas tube siphons the captured gas into the bolt carrier group via a key screwed into the top of the bolt carrier group.

Low-Profile Gas Block vs. Standard

Low-profile gas blocks take up minimal space on the barrel and are less noticeable because they are shorter and thinner than standard blocks. The subtleness and size of a low-standard gas block make it ideal for AR-15 owners who would like to add a handguard and other accessories to their gun barrel.

If you opt for an adjustable gas block, you can tweak it to increase or reduce how much gas reaches your bolt carrier group. However, non-adjustable gas blocks are your best bet if you want an off-the-shelf AR-15 that can run safely and reliably without worrying about gas settings.

In a nutshell, the low-profile gas block vs. standard gas block contest has no clear winner. The best one to install on your gun will depend on how you want your AR-15 to look and operate.

How to Measure Gas Tube Length

Gas system length or gas tube length refers to the distance between the chamber and the gas block. Choosing the right gas tube length is essential because it affects dwell time.

Dwell time is how long a bullet spends in the barrel after passing the gas port. Once the bullet passes the gas port, the gas from the fired bullet expands and generates pressure. Some of that gas will enter the gas port and travel to the bolt carrier group to cycle it. The gas pressure will cut off immediately after the bullet exits the barrel.

Excessive gas pressure will over-gas the bolt carrier group, leading to the bolt carrier group sliding with excessive force. The excessive force can cause extreme recoil and make the bolt carrier group wear out faster.

On the other hand, too short a dwell time caused by insufficient space between the gas port and muzzle can cause under-gassing. An under-gassed system will cause the bolt carrier group to move too slowly to eject exhausted rounds and chamber fresh ones. Also referred to as short-stroking, the malfunction can make your gun unreliable and prone to jamming.

Other factors that affect dwell time are barrel length, gas port size, buffer, buffer spring and trigger, muzzle device, and slug weight and size.

Comparing Gas System Lengths: Pistol, Carbine, Mid, Rifle

Several AR-15 gas system lengths are available for different gun barrel lengths. Let’s take a look at each length and what makes them different.

Gas System LengthBarrel LengthPistol10 inchesCarbine14 to 16 inchesMid16 to 18 inchesRifleOver 18 inches

Pistol-Length

You need a pistol-length gas system if you prefer a super short AR-15 for easy maneuverability in close quarters. Pistol-length AR-15s typically have barrels 10 inches or shorter. The ideal pistol-length gas system for such a barrel will have a gas tube between 4.5 and 6.75-inches.

Carbine

AR-15s built as carbines typically have a barrel between 14 and 16 inches. You need a carbine-length gas system between 9.75 and 9.8 inches on such firearms.

Mid-Length

A mid-length barrel typically measures between 16 and 18 inches. The ideal gas tube length for such a barrel will be about 11.75 inches.

Rifle-Length

A standard AR-15 rifle barrel is between 18 and 20 inches. On such a gun, you will need a rifle-length gas system between 13 and 15 inches long.

What's the Best Gas System Length for My AR-15?

Carbine vs. mid-length vs. rifle-length gas system arguments are always raging, but there’s never a definitive winner. That’s because each gas system length affects different AR-15 builds differently.

The best gas tube for your AR-15 will depend on your barrel length. Find the gas system length that best optimizes your gun's accuracy, reliability, and durability by testing different compatible gas systems.

However, the mid-length gas system is your best choice if you want a versatile gas tube length that works with various barrel lengths. Pairing a mid-length gas system with an AR-15 carbine will give you a slightly longer gas system with a shorter dwell time.

A shorter dwell time will cause the bolt carrier group and other moving pieces to work properly but a little slower. The reduced speed will prevent accelerated wearing down of moving components and minimize the risk of a weapon malfunction.

On the other hand, attaching a mid-length barrel to a rifle-length AR-15 will lead to a shorter gas system and longer dwell time that causes your rifle to cycle faster. Faster cycling is ideal if you want an increased rate of fire.

On the downside, faster moving components will lead to more intense recoils and accelerated wearing down of moving parts in your rifle. These issues are negligible for casual shooters who only occasionally fire their weapons.

If you have an AR pistol, you can only use a pistol-length gas system. Any other gas system would be too long.

Need a Premium Barrel for Your AR-15 Build?

Now that you know what a gas system is and how to pick a fitting gas tube length for your AR-15, you only need to find where to shop. Look no further than Ballistic Advantage – the one-stop shop for top-of-the-line AR-15 parts and components for upgrading or building your dream firearm from scratch.

Visit our online store today to check out our latest AR-15 barrels, gas blocks, and gas tubes, and order your favorites.

Gas Distribution Systems: A Beginner's Guide

Comparing AR Gas System Lengths

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