The DPBE – for Existing Branch Protection Device – is a small tool that helps secure serivce lines on distribution networks. It is a kind of back valve in the event of an incident, such as the tearing of the connection by a digger. It shut off the gas automatically, thus avoiding discharges and being able to intervene safely. There is no need to search or interrupt the network, the DPBE can be inserted directly from the customer box. Positioned in a cartridge, it will be pushed into the gas network, and be operational in less than half an hour.
The shutter valve principle does not make the DPBE (Legacy Connection Protection Device) an innovation, since this system already existed. What makes this solution innovative is the way it was packaged to fit directly onto legacy connections. The DPBE is a concrete example of a solution which was research-based, qualified, developed and rolled out industrially within a few years. GRDF installs more than 10,000 units per year on its network.
The DPBE can be attractive to all distributors and is a great success internationally. Developments are currently underway on the Turkish network, trials are taking place on the Romanian network and we have also won a competitive bid in Ireland. Today, we are preparing to offer this solution to North American distributors, which means not only making a sales mission, but also adapting the product. Indeed, the product, developed for the metric system used in Europe, must be adapted to the “imperial” measures – measures in inches – used in North America.
Seven different patents have been filed to ensure full ownership of the DPBE, fully developed by us, which is today one of only two such solutions available on the world market. These patents protect both the device and the method of fitting and testing it.
We are continuing our development efforts to further improve it. Research is being conducted on geometric adaptations to make the DPBE suitable for new network sizes, and studies are looking into other possible uses, under different pressure or flow conditions. The aim is to win new competitive bids in Europe and across the Atlantic.
One of the many advantages of DPBE is that it is completely independent of the type of gas being transported. So, on a distribution network, it works regardless of the percentage of hydrogen or the origin of the gas, whether natural, synthetic or biomethane. A valuable asset in the context of the energy transition.