Methane Leak Detection System

Default image of engine components representing an ARPA-E technology


Program:
MONITOR
Award:
$2,494,131
Location:
Redwood City,
California
Status:
ALUMNI
Project Term:
04/15/2015 - 08/26/2018

Critical Need:

The recent expansion of domestic natural gas production, particularly from shale resources, has improved the economic, security, and environmental outlook of our nation’s energy portfolio. Unfortunately, at least 2% of this gas resource is wasted through leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, at production sites. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) if emitted directly to the atmosphere, and methane emissions from natural gas development may undermine the climate benefits of using lower carbon natural gas for power generation. Existing methane monitoring devices have limited ability to cost-effectively, consistently, and precisely locate and quantify the rate of methane emissions. Affordable sensing systems would enable more effective methane mitigation programs, which could lead to a reduction in overall methane emissions and more efficient extraction and use of domestic energy resources.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Aeris Technologies will partner with Rice University and Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop a complete methane leak detection system that allows for highly sensitive, accurate methane detection at natural gas systems. The team will combine its novel compact spectrometer based on a mid-infrared laser, its patent-pending multi-port sampling system, and an advanced computational approach to leak quantification and localization. Their approach will use artificial neural networks and dispersion models to quantify and locate leaks with increased accuracy and reduced computational time for use in a diverse range of meteorological conditions and wellpad configurations. At each wellpad, a control unit will house the core sensor, a computing unit to process data, and wireless capability to transmit leak information to an operator, while the multi-port gas-sampling system will be distributed across the wellpad. Aeris’ goal is to be able to detect and measure methane leaks smaller than 1 ton per year from a 10 meter by 10 meter site. At this level of sensitivity, which is in the ppb range, Aeris estimates that its system can facilitate a 90% reduction in fugitive methane emissions. Compared to current monitoring systems that can cost $25,000 annually, Aeris’ goal is a cost of $3,000 or less a year to operate.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Aeris’ system could detect highly sensitive methane measurements at a fraction of the cost of current systems.

Security:

Better methane detection technologies could improve the sustainability of domestic natural gas production and the safety of operations.

Environment:

Enhanced detection systems could enable greater mitigation of methane leakage and lead to an overall reduction in harmful methane emissions associated with natural gas development.

Economy:

New innovations could decrease the costs of methane detection and help accelerate the adoption of monitoring programs at the nation’s more than 480,000 producing natural gas wells.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Joseph King
Project Contact:
Dr. James Scherer
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
james.scherer@aerissensors.com

Partners

William Marsh Rice University
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Related Projects


Release Date:
12/16/2014