Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions
The projects that comprise ARPA-E's Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) program are developing innovative technologies to cost-effectively and accurately locate and measure methane emissions associated with natural gas production. Such low-cost sensing systems are needed to reduce methane leaks anywhere from the wellpad to local distribution networks, reduce safety hazards, promote more efficient use of our domestic natural gas resources, and reduce the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) impact from natural gas development.
The expansion of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which allow producers to tap into shale energy resources, has led to a rapid increase in U.S. natural gas development. As a result, the U.S. is now the world's largest natural gas producer. Unfortunately, an average of about 2% of this gas resource is wasted through leaks, with higher rates at some production sites. Methane is the main constituent of natural gas, but is highly flammable and is a potent GHG if emitted directly to the atmosphere. Existing methane monitoring devices have limited ability to cost-effectively, consistently, and precisely locate and quantify the rate of the leak. Oftentimes, operators cannot easily identify leak locations without the use of high-cost monitoring equipment, hindering the adoption of efficient remedies to mitigate methane leaks. MONITOR projects aim to address these shortcomings by introducing new technologies that can estimate methane emission flow rates, provide continuous monitoring, localize the leak source, and improve the accuracy of methane detection.
If successful, innovations developed under the MONITOR program could generate highly sensitive technologies to locate and characterize methane leakage at natural gas well sites with greater precision for a lower cost.
MONITOR projects aim to further the sustainability of domestic natural gas production by creating sophisticated methane detection technologies that improve the safety of operations and reduce the waste of natural gas through leaks.
Enhanced detection capabilities could significantly reduce fugitive methane emissions and lead to an overall reduction in harmful methane emissions associated with natural gas development.
MONITOR program innovations aim to give producers the tools to decrease the cost of methane detection, thus accelerating the adoption of monitoring programs at the nation's more than 480,000 producing natural gas wells and helping to keep natural gas costs low.