PiPe 4.0: lasers and nanotechnologies, the last frontier for monitoring gas and new blends

Innovative technologies for natural gas monitoring: this is how the CNR adheres to phase two of the ATTRACT initiative funded by the European Commission

PiPe 4.0, here is the name of the project focused on cutting-edge technologies for natural gas monitoring with which the National Research Council (CNR) adheres to phase two of the ATTRACT initiative funded by the European Commission for the research of new technological systems for environmental monitoring and improvement of people’s quality of life.

The core of the project is the application of photonic technologies and nanotechnologies to the realization of sensors capable of measuring the composition and the calorific value of the gas inside the pipes. Positioned along the entire natural gas distribution infrastructure, these sensors will guarantee precision, reliability and safety at low cost even in tomorrow’s networks where the use of biomethane and hydrogen-enriched natural gas mixtures is set to increase sharply and as a result, an increasing number of injection and monitoring points will be needed.

PiPe 4.0 will therefore be developed and subsequently tested through pilot plants, on two levels:

– a monitoring unit (GMU, Gas Monitoring Unit) inside injection and distribution stations for the complete measurement of the parameters of natural gas and mixtures with hydrogen and biomethane;

– a network of secondary sensors (DSU, Distributed Sensing Unit) for monitoring the quality of the gas in the network through self-powered sensors thanks to devices capable of generating energy from the temperature difference between the gas and the environment.


The project is coordinated by the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology of the CNR, with the participation of partners Inrete Distribuzione Energia (Hera Group, Italy), Pietro Fiorentini (Italy), Inano Energy (Portugal), Greenway S.r.l. (Italy) and the Centre for Energy Economics and Technology “Giorgio Levi Cases” of the University of Padua.

“Our goal – comments Luca Poletto, coordinator of the PiPe 4.0 project – is to ensure people a precise, fast and low-cost measurement of gas quality. To this end, we will employ the analysis technique called laser Raman spectroscopy and, at the same time, we will create a network of secondary sensors to be tested along the distribution networks. We will thus give rise to a new paradigm in the field of measuring the quality of natural gas within infrastructures. A particularly relevant issue in view of the energy transition, which will see an ever-increasing use of biogas, biomethane and hydrogen-enriched mixtures”.

To stay updated on project developments, visit the dedicated website


CNR Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnology
The Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies of the CNR (CNR-IFN) carries out innovative research in the field of photonics and nanotechnologies considering both the fundamental and applied aspects concerning the development of new photonic devices and systems and optoelectronic instrumentation. The Institute is closely integrated with the national scientific community and collaborates with major international universities and research centers. The Institute is part of the National Research Council (CNR), the largest national public research body with multidisciplinary expertise. The task of the CNR is the realization of scientific research projects in the main sectors of knowledge and the application of the results for the development of the country, promoting innovation, the internationalization of the research system and favoring the competitiveness of the industrial system.

Website: www.ifn.cnr.it


Pietro Fiorentini
Pietro Fiorentini, founded in Bologna in 1940, is one of the major industrial companies in the Italian north-east, with headquarters in Arcugnano (Vicenza, Italy). The Group has around thirty manufacturing and commercial sites in Italy and abroad and employs over 2,400 workers worldwide. In 2021 it achieved a turnover of 466 million euros, an increase of over 17% compared to 2020. The Group boasts a solid clientele including natural gas distribution and transport companies, Oil & Gas companies, EPCs, end- industrial users and utilities, who recognize its absolute standing in terms of product and process innovation. At the heart of the company’s production is a wide range of technologically advanced solutions along the entire natural gas supply chain: from components and services for transport and distribution networks, up to a series of engineered systems that include valves, meters multi-phase, process plants, cabins and reduction and measurement units. In the last ten years, the company has made significant investments in R&D, M&A, plants and means of production, which today allow it to hold a
leadership position in the field of Smart Metering projects and more generally of Smart Grids. In the context of the energy transition, Pietro Fiorentini has intensified his efforts to seize the new opportunities linked to green energy sources such as biomethane, hydrogen and power to gas. Recently, the Group has also extended its horizons to water measurement, the digitization of the water cycle and the environmental sector.
Website: fiorentini.com | News: fiorentini.com/news | Twitter: @fiorentinispa |
Facebook: @PietroFiorentiniSpa | LinkedIn: @pietro-fiorentini-spa | YouTube:


Hera Group
The Hera Group is one of the largest Italian multi-utility companies and operates in the environment, energy and water sectors, with more than 9,000 employees, committed every day to responding to the multiple needs of over 4 million citizens located mainly in Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli- Venezia Giulia, Marche, Tuscany and Abruzzo. Listed since 2003, it is among the top 40 Italian companies by capitalization (it is part of the Ftse Mib index) and since 2020 it has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, World and Europe. Inrete Distribuzione Energia is the subsidiary that manages the natural gas and electricity distribution services and operates mainly in Emilia-Romagna.
Website: www.gruppohera.it | www.inretedistribuzione.it | Twitter: @gruppohera |
LinkedIn: @gruppohera | YouTube: @gruppohera | Instagram: @gruppohera


GreenwaysThe Greenway group operates in the agro-energy and wine sector: its activity ranges from theproduction of energy from biomass to the production and marketing of grapes, including the cultivation of agricultural products for energy and food use. For the extension of the surface in direct cultivation and for its turnover, the group is one of the most important realities in the sector in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy). The group has a turnover of 5 million euros/year, employs 40 people between direct and indirect personnel and produces energy for 6,500,000 Kw/year equal to the needs of 20,000 people, with a reduction in oil consumption of 3,000 t/year. The group also produces digestate for 26,000 t/year equivalent to about 500 t of chemical fertilizer, manages crops of energy crops and for human and animal feed for a total of 745 ha. The group is also an established producer of Filare Italia own-brand wines for the following types: Pinot Grigio, Ribolla Gialla, Prosecco, Rosè, Sauvignon. Website: www.gruppogreenway.it


Centre for Energy Economics and Technology “Giorgio Levi Cases” of University of Padua
The Centre for Energy Economics and Technology “Giorgio Levi Cases” is an interdepartmental Centre of the University of Padua involved in scientific and technological research about energy sources and their transformation, distribution and final use. Established in 1969 thanks to Engineer

Giorgio Levi Cases’ legacy and reorganized in 2014, the Centre joins and coordinates research activities in the energy field of eleven departments of the University of Padua. It is supported by private and public funds. The objective of the Centre is promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between laboratories involved in various scientific fields related to energy. Technological as well as economical and social issues are discussed together in view of reducing the carbon footprint of energy production within 2050. The Center also promotes and organizes scientific events, to establish collaborations with other similar national and international research centers, to interact with institutions and companies, and to offer training courses. With 53 research groups including 166 faculty members of the University and 300+ research associates, the Centre Levi Cases is ready to develop the tools to face the challenges of the energy transition to renewables currently in progress. Website: evicases.unipd.it | Twitter: @LeviCases | Facebook: it- it.facebook.com/levicases/ | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/centro-studi-di- economia-e-tecnica-dell%27energia-giorgio-levi-cases


inanoEnergy inanoE is a spin-off of the University of Porto funded in 2016 to develop, prototype and produce energy harvesting solutions with applications to the internet of things. With headquarters in Porto (Portugal), inanoE manufactures energy harvesters (mechanical and thermal) for OEMs within two main markets: combusting industry and crude oil and natural gas applications (distributed sensing networks). inanoE’s customers are companies that have the necessity to sense physical and chemical parameters (temperature, pressure, composition) in environments where electrical power connections are not available, for which it develops, produces and directly sells novel energy harvesting solutions. Currently with 6 employees, inanoE has partnered with recognized institutions, including Repsol (Spain) and X-rig (Norway; for the Oil & Gas market), Pietro Fiorentini and Waters of Porto (on the natural gas and water distribution sectors), CERN (on the refrigeration sector), LIPOR (on the combusting market) or the European Space Agency. Website: inanoe.com