RESEARCHERS at Colorado State University (CSU) have been awarded US$3.5m over three years to create and operate a methane emissions testing facility.
The grant was awarded by the Department of Energy's (DoE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) as part of the DoE’s methane observation networks with innovative technology to obtain reductions (MONITOR) programme. The CSU team will use the money to simulate a broad range of natural gas production systems for testing technologies in real-world industry conditions.
The facility will be located at a CSU site near Fort Collins, US, which is outside of any oil and gas basins, to allow for near-complete control of background and onsite emissions during testing. The project will consist of multiple sub-facilities that simulate different operations throughout the natural gas industry supply chain such as: dry gas production, wet gas production, midstream compression and regulating stations, and underground pipelines.
“Our job is to assist in bringing these technologies to market. We'll help companies prove out solutions in a controlled environment prior to deployment in the field,” said Daniel Zimmerle, a senior research associate at the CSU Energy Institute.
ARPA-E says that on average around 2% of resource gas produced is lost due to leakage, with higher rates at some sites. This highlights the need for greater emission detection as faster response to leaks reduces safety hazards, increases efficiency and lowers methane emissions.
The purpose of the MONITOR programme is to reduce the cost of monitoring technologies by up to 40 times while maintaining accuracy to locate and measure methane emissions associated with natural gas production.
Zimmerle added: “These technologies represent breakthroughs in what's possible in methane sensing. Some of the solutions are the equivalent of a US$20,000 instrument reduced to a US$500 package.”
Other partners in the MONITOR programme are developing the technologies that will be used in the testing facility. Laser manufacturer Aeris Technologies is developing a new methane leak detection system, while North Carolina-based Duke University is working on an advanced spectrometer for methane detection.
CSU expects the preliminary testing to begin by January 2017.
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