This meeting was actually twelve years in the making, resulting from the increasing incidence of natural gas that cannot be smelled (by testers or the public), despite the gas containing appreciable odorant. NIST has worked with various gas distributors and the AGA (American Gas Association) over the years to address the problem, and a meeting with AGA and MML leadership took place in April of 2010. This result of this meeting was the launch of the Odor Masking workshop.
The meeting began with introductory remarks that outlined the goal: the preparation of a road map of research steps that will be needed to sufficiently understand the phenomena of masking so that the fuel gas industry can address occurrences of masking in LDCs. Speakers representing the scientific leadership of the olfaction community presented research results, and at the wrap up session, a number of concrete plans emerged as necessary next steps.
A bioinformatics study on existing data sets of analyses performed on gas samples can be used to obtain a first pass at potential agonists with TBM. Then, human perception studies can be continued. In addition, it was concluded that additional work on VLE of mixed odorant systems with NGL is needed, as well as an evaluation of sample integrity of stored gas samples. Additional conclusions will be summarized in the findings and recommendations document which should be available in one month.
For information contact Tom Bruno thomas.bruno [at] nist.gov