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Continuous quantitative methane emission monitor with vent discrimination

Award Information
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Branch: N/A
Contract: 68HERC22C0014
Agency Tracking Number: B212F-0007
Amount: $99,973.51
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 2F
Solicitation Number: 68HERC21R0144
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-12-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-05-31
Small Business Information
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
United States
DUNS: 073800062
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Michael Frish
 Principal Research Scientist
 (978) 738-8252
Business Contact
 Antonio Rodrigues
Title: Contracts Administrator
Phone: (978) 738-8110
Research Institution

The hundreds of thousands oil and gas storage tanks and tank batteries at upstream production sites are inadvertent intermittent, generally unmonitored, high flow rate (flux) methane emitters. Their emission rates are poorly quantified. Flux measurements are inhibited by the difficulty of directly accessing emission sources, instrument limitations, and inability to distinguish between unintentional emission events vs routine venting. Addressing these challenges to provide the environmental benefit of reducing methane emissions demands novel cost-effective and reliable continuous quantitative methane flux measurement technology. The proposed project will validate an innovative combination of proven and emerging technologies to demonstrate the feasibility of meeting this need. The technology will provide easily installed laser-based continuous monitoring along tank battery perimeters. Configured with novel high-speed (10 Hz) measurement and spatial laser scanning, it will detect, quantify, and wirelessly report emissions. Its temporal resolution enables statistical data processing that recognizes routine vents. The laser technology is based on our transformative handheld Remote Methane Leak Detector (RMLD®) platform. In a fixed long-open-path configuration, it has continuously monitored methane emissions from storage sites for more than five years, but has not quantified flux. However, in handheld and low-flying drone-mounted configurations, the laser scanning technique yields quantitative leak plume images that provide data for deducing flux. This project will combine the techniques to demonstrate the feasibility of rapidly scanning the open-path laser beam across a “flux plane” to deduce plume flux at ~1 Hz with no need for plume modeling. In addition, we have acquired data illustrating the ability to differentiate between routine vents and unintended fugitive emissions. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of automating these data analytics. The ability to quantify flux of fugitive emissions and distinguish them from routine vents is a subject of intense R&D. Passive infrared imagery techniques relying on thermal contrast between the methane plume and the background are currently offered for quantification, but they suffer shortcomings when thermal contrast is insufficient and they do not distinguish leaks vs vents. Our proposed active laser technique overcomes these limitations at significantly lower cost per unit. O&G producers are driven by EPA regulations to begin deploying this technology in earnest c.2025 at costs <$10k per unit. The potential market far exceeds tens of thousands of units. This project will support advancing the technology to proven products that can be mass produced, installed, and operated at acceptable cost to meet these market needs.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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