Group tests remote methane-sensing methods

An industry-government program will publish “over the coming months” results of experiments on remote methane-sensing technology with application in oil and gas production, reports the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

The program aims to provide ways accurately to measure unintended releases of methane, a greenhouse gas, from human activity.

The group has tested ground and airborne sensing of controlled methane releases at the US Department of Energy’s Rocky Mountain Oil Testing Center north of Casper, Wyo. In addition to DOE and LANL, its members are Chevron Corp. and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Chevron and LANL have collaborated on sensor technology development since 2001. The oil company entered a collaboration agreement with NASA in July 2011.

In June, the group tested airborne sensing of methane released at controlled rates and monitored downwind by a 45-ft tower at each release site. The tests used three aircraft and a “small, unmanned aerial system.” The JPL deployed three airborne sensors, called Next Generation Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer, and an instrument suite called CARVE.

“The project is pioneering the development of ultrasensitive methane sensing technology to fill current gaps in quantifying fugitive leaks from petroleum extraction,” said Manvendra Dubey of LANL.

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