Professor Wolters is a part-time professor in GasTechnology.

Foto of Mannes WoltersChair of Gas Technology

Laboratory of Thermal Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Technology

University of Twente

P.O. Box 217

7500 AE Enschede

The Netherlands

Phone: +31-53-4892530

Fax: +31-53-4893663



This chair has been founded in 1999 and deals with technological aspects of natural gas, biogas, SNG, hydrogen and other combustible gases used in the energy business.

The activity field of the chair of Gas Technology is broad : from processing of gas, via transport and distribution, up to utilization in households and industry. This is achieved by building up relationships within and outside the University of Twente.

Within the University of Twente various groups work on subjects related to gas technology. In the faculty of Science and Technology, gas processing is studied, e.g. by means of membrane processes. In the same faculty, production processes for SNG ( substitute natural gas ) and H2 (hydrogen) from biomass are developed. In the faculty of Engineering Technology, gas flow modeling and turbulent combustion are studied.

The chair of Gas Technology has also developed a strong relationship with the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management of the TU Delft. Some groups in this faculty concentrate their research on infrastructure systems, including energy systems.

Though technology is the prime focus of the chair of Gas Technology, a lot of attention is also paid to managerial, economic and social aspects related to gas technology. Partly this is realized in the relationship with the TU Delft. But in this respect, also a close relationship with the CSTM ( Center for Clean Technology and Environmental Policy ) of the University of Twente has been established.

Moreover, some relationships have been established with universities abroad, like the University of Applied Research of Muenster, the TU Clausthal-Zellerfeld and the TU Freiberg in Germany.

Apart from the relationships within the academic community, the chair of Gas Technology has strong contacts with the gas industry ( energy companies, manufacturers, institutes, etc ) all over the world.

R & D issues

Presently the research interests of the chair of Gas Technology focus on issues in the gas infrastructure ( gas networks ).

The chair supports PhD work into modeling of the ( long-term ) mechanical behaviour of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic pipes (RTP) systems for oil and gas transport at high pressures.

A short description of the research issues in the field of gas networks is given below.

Field of activity

Gas is already an important source of energy, and its importance will even further increase due to technological and environmental reasons. Presently the main source of gas is natural gas, but this may change to “green gas” (e.g. SNG produced from biomass) and/or hydrogen. Independently of what specific gas is to be utilized in future, networks will serve as the major supply systems. Yet, the technical characteristics of these networks will be very dependent on the types of gas transported.

In the field of gas technology a lot of research is already done, but this is focused mainly on upstream issues or the use of gas for various applications. Up to now little work is done with respect to the gas network, which forms an essential part in the gas supply chain

Modernization of (gas) networks

Modernization of networks is related to various challenges that arise from the liberalization of infrastructures. Modernization is approached from a broad perspective, ranging from the replacement of network components, to the expansion of networks and the introduction of entire new technologies and network concepts.

Before liberalization, decisions on innovation and infrastructure investment were relatively simple. Utility firms were organized as public monopolies with very close political involvement, which enabled investments at relatively low risk and offered opportunities for the socialization of incurred costs. Today, infrastructure firms are operating within a market framework as parts of complex value-adding networks, under operating conditions set through government policy and enforced by regulators. Within these networks and markets, each player tends to optimize its own position in the interest of its stakeholders. However, it is questionable whether this private optimization process results into socially desirable outcomes of timely and adequate network modernization that supports economic growth and social welfare.

Typical questions related to technical aspects of (gas) network modernization include the following:


What kind of technical innovations are necessary in gas distribution systems to respond to the newly developing needs of liberalized gas markets?


How to determine and monitor the technical conditions of gas networks in order to safeguard cost efficient replacements that reflect customers needs?


In which way can a safe, reliable and efficient operation of gas networks be supported?

These three areas of interest can be specified into the following projects. The first two projects are proposed by the gas industry and are concrete requests; the others might serve as examples.


Condition assessment of gas distribution networks

Investments in gas distribution networks are very high, exceeding worldwide hundreds of billions of euros. Some of the materials used are already in operation for tens of years and may be replaced/renovated in due time. Too early replacement results in loss of capital. However, safety and security of supply may be in serious danger if replacements are hold back too long. Therefore an adequate replacement strategy is needed. In the proposed research project, various methodologies for this replacement strategy will be evaluated. Specific indicators (parameters) characterizing the condition of the network will be defined and methods developed to measure these indicators, preferably for use under operating conditions.


Innovative gas distribution networks

Gas networks have to support a safe, reliable, clean and cost-efficient gas supply. The design (e.g. the degree of interconnecting) and the choice of materials (e.g. steel, cast iron, plastics) determine greatly the safety and reliability of the gas supply. In this research gas networks will be modelled and the relationship between design parameters and safety, reliability and costs be determined. This knowledge will be applied to possible future developments, like the introduction of “green gas”, the large-scale introduction of micro-cogeneration, etc.


Assessment of the suitability of existing gas networks for the transport of hydrogen

It may be possible that hydrogen can be transported in the same networks as natural gas. On the issue of converting networks from natural gas to hydrogen, two important points deserve emphasis:


in terms of technology, the actual pipelines and the other equipment ( compressor stations, pressure reducing valves, gas meters , etc. ) must be qualified and , possibly, modified or replaced.


In economic terms, the network flow capacity (evaluated in terms of useful energy content per unit of volume) is possibly reduced by the conversion from natural gas to hydrogen. The capacity reduction is difficult to determine accurately and its incidence in an evolving urban context is also difficult to assess. It would be necessary to take into account such factors as better insulation of premises and the improved efficiency of hydrogen-converting appliances, which reduces specific energy consumption per household.


The location and directional aspects of pipelines and facilities.


Transitional arrangements (when and how to switch) radical rupture or gradual addition.


Smart and reliable operation of gas networks

The goals of a project proposal in this area could be to identify technologies that increase utilization (through better diagnosis of key system components) and improve physical reliability of natural gas networks (pm This concept may also be applicable to other networks). These technologies are expected to be essential components that will be integrated into smart and reliable gas networks of the future.

The development and implementation of a “reliable and smart” concept for gas networks (and other networks) is based on the integration of:


Conventional and wireless sensors (e.g. piezoelectric sensors, nanotechnology sensors, fibre optic sensors)


Advanced communication technologies


Integrated “artificial intelligence” data processing, and control systems that interface with conventional load management systems, emergency management systems, maintenance management systems, etc.

The “reliable and smart” system will monitor the gas network in a real-time manner and use fuzzy-logic to make intelligent operational modifications where needed. The integration of data collection devices, communication systems, and artificial intelligence will permit the conversion of real-time data and information into strategically competitive knowledge that may be used to improve planning, scheduling, budgeting, operating, emergency, maintenance and manpower allocation processes.

The “reliable and smart” utility will allow better system utilization and ensure the reliability and flexibility of gas networks.


Risk assessment of gas networks

The security, economic prosperity, and social well being of the society depend on a complex system of interdependent infrastructures. Key among these is the energy infrastructure, including the electricity, oil, and natural gas production, transmission, storage, and distribution systems that fuel and power the economy.

To support the goal of protecting this critical energy infrastructure, risk assessment is a powerful tool.

Risk is a measure of the potential for damage or loss of an asset that will adversely affect the ability of an organization or system to function properly. The level of risk of an asset is a function of two factors: (1) the value placed on the asset by its owner because of the consequences of a loss or disruption of this asset and (2) the likelihood that a specific vulnerability of the asset will be exhibited by a particular threat. This latter depends on the nature of the vulnerability and the level of the threat.

Gas networks are becoming more complex. This increases the probability of complex interactions in these systems, which may result in unexpected failures or disturbances. The processes in gas supply systems usually are also tightly coupled, which means that there is no buffer between steps. In tightly coupled systems the buffers, redundancies and substitutions must be designed in: they must be thought of in advance. It may be interesting to design and evaluate gas supply systems, which are based more on loosely coupled systems. These systems can (up to a certain degree) incorporate shocks and failures without destabilization. Tightly coupled systems will respond more quickly to these perturbations, but the response may be disastrous.


The chair of Gas Technology gives the following courses :


A course on gas technology for MSc students ( at the University of Twente and at the Technical University of Delft )


A post-graduate course on gas infrastucture ( PATO )