Methane, ethane, and propane sensor for real-time leak detection and diagnostics

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aerodyne Research, Inc.
45 Manning Road Array
Billerica, MA 01821
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Proposal Technical Abstract: Methane is an important greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 25-35 times that of carbon dioxide. There are many anthropogenic and natural sources of CH4, but emissions from the oil and gas industry are the largest contributor to the overall US methane budget of 650 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Identifying sources of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities is complicated by the sheer number of possible emission points between the well and end user. It would therefore be of great value to use advances in methane sensor technology to aid and enhance leak detection and repair. Recent field measurements of downwind plumes from natural gas leaks have found that the chemical signatures of accompanying compounds can indicate the locations of these leaks. In particular, ethane and propane are frequently co-emitted with methane, and can be used to identify the specific equipment responsible for a downwind plume. We have previously demonstrated rapid measurements of ethane and methane with high sensitivity using high resolution infrared spectroscopy. We will extend this technology to include propane, thereby creating the first high sensitivity, real time gas monitor for this species. The sensor will be able to detect methane with a 1-second sensitivity of