Five proposals have been chosen as finalists by the Environmental Defense Fund in the Methane Detectors Challenge, an initiative to identify next-generation technologies that will help better monitor and ultimately help reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.
Twenty proposals were received from companies and university research teams. The teams selected to move forward are:
- RAE Systems and SenseAir — for an integrated system for very low-level methane leak detection, adapted from a handheld meteorological sensor.
- University of Colorado, Boulder — for a sensor network on a single circuit board, using low-cost, commercially available sensors.
- Oakland University and Michigan State University — for an electrochemical sensor solution with a target cost of $30.
- Dalian Actech and Foller & Associates — for an infrared laser-based methane detection system currently used to sense natural gas in the Chinese coal industry.
- Quanta3 — for a low-cost, methane-specific laser-based system that does not require direct contact for detection.
The five teams will have their innovations undergo a first round of independent testing at Southwest Research Institute’s laboratory in Texas next month. The most promising technologies will then undergo further laboratory and field testing, potentially followed by pilot testing at facilities run by participating companies.
In another partnership initiative, EDF recently worked with Google Earth Outreach to map natural gas leaks under the streets of Boston, Indianapolis and New York City’s Staten Island.
According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, failure to reduce methane leaks has the potential to eliminate much, if not all, of the greenhouse gas advantage of natural gas over coal.