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Continuous quantitative methane emission monitor with vent discrimination
Title: Principal Research Scientist
Phone: (978) 738-8252
Title: Contracts Administrator
Phone: (978) 738-8110
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. *