How is methane monitored

Technologies for detecting gas leaks and monitoring methane

Methane leaks have become a major concern for environmentalists and scientists, especially as the harmful effects of methane emissions are becoming better understood. Methane emissions from fossil fuels have become an increasingly serious problem, particularly as the world has placed increased demands on oil and gas supplies for fuel production. There are several sources of atmospheric methane, both natural and anthropogenic, but the results of these emissions entering the atmosphere are the same.

Simply put, whether methane is caused by human activities or is naturally produced, it has a strong detrimental effect on the environment because it is a potent greenhouse gas. In fact, methane is around 80 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide is. As you can imagine, this poses a serious problem in the fight against climate change and highlights the importance of properly managing and mitigating the effects of methane emissions.

Natural gas management and leak detection

Methane is odourless and colourless, making it difficult to notice leaks with the naked eye. Where no gas monitoring equipment is in use, leaks can sometimes go undetected for extended periods of time especially if they are too small to cause noticeable effects such as a drop in pressure. However, there are new ways to detect and contain these emissions, allowing for better monitoring and response.

Although methane leaks can pose a serious health risk, they do not pose an immediate threat as long as the flow volume is low and ventilation is adequate. While the majority of leaks are small and in ventilated areas and therefore do not directly pose a risk to human health and safety, experts say that people must evacuate as soon as they notice a gas leak or are otherwise notified of a leak or potential leak. They should also avoid using any electrical devices, light matches, or smoking to prevent an explosion. If a methane leak is suspected by the wider community, residents should immediately contact the local utility to get the necessary assistance.

There are several different technologies used to identify leaks and answer the question of how is methane monitored in commercial settings. Most equipment either takes the form of portable systems that are either handheld or mounted onto equipment such as cars and drones, or are fixed in place within a gas management system where they can monitor gas concentrations and emissions over time.

Cameras are one of the most popular gas leak detection systems you can choose for commercial applications, and they are invaluable for detecting methane leaks. Many use infrared technology that is capable of detecting the air disturbances caused by methane leaks as well as giving information about the extent of the leak.

As cameras are small and relatively inexpensive it is possible to incorporate them into many parts of a gas management system as stationary units or to mount them onto other ambulatory equipment. Depending on how they are used, portable devices can be used to pinpoint the exact location of a methane leak and they can also be used to monitor methane levels over time.

Surface emissions can be monitored easily and cheaply with the use of other kinds of sensors. Commonly, these systems rely on their ability to take a sample of the ambient air and analyse its composition in real time and can also be either portable or stationary. Even subterranean systems like landfills and waste management systems can be monitored with the use of remote cameras and sensors.

As gas monitoring technology is becoming increasingly available to companies, gas safety in general is improving. Furthermore, there are some promising technologies in development that promise to reduce the frequency of these leaks. By working to reduce the instances of natural gas leaks using natural gas leak detection it is possible to reduce the risks to human health as well as the environment.

In plants that produce methane and natural gas it is important that all potential sources of leaks are accounted for, and that all associated equipment is properly maintained to reduce the risks of system failures. A large gas leak can be dangerous as previously mentioned, but they can also be very expensive to repair, especially if they have caused additional damage to the infrastructure, making proper management crucial to those working in the industry.

Found in:
Oil and Gas
Biogas and Biomethane