Natural Gas

The production of natural gas is at all-time highs since 2005. While the burning of natural gas for power and heat produces fewer carbon emissions than coal, the natural gas supply chain is prone to leaks. A massive 2018 study* coordinated by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and published in the journal, Science, estimates that natural gas operations leak 2.3% of the total gas extracted. For every hundred cubic feet of natural gas that comes from underground reservoirs, consequently 2.3 cubic feet is put into the atmosphere. The leaks vary in severity and are widespread.

This is a serious problem. Natural gas consists almost entirely of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. It has more than 80 times the climate-warming impact of carbon dioxide in the 20 years following its release. Methane emissions account for about 25% of the warming experienced today.

 

The Solution to Methane Gas Leaks

People often overlook the climate benefits of cleaner-burning natural gas because so much of it leaks.

Leaks also mean lost product—to the tune of at least $30 billion each year. The only way to mitigate these leaks is to detect them. Current ‘fence-line’ detection systems, like open-path lasers, are bulky and prohibitively expensive to deploy. Such technologies do not lend themselves to leak localization. (Using them as such is akin to determining which room in a massive apartment building is on fire by measuring how much smoke blows across the property line.)

To truly locate methane leaks across the entire supply chain, there needs to be a new sensing paradigm: low-cost, real-time sensor networks. The MPS™ Methane Gas Sensor utilizes cloud-based, 24/7 monitoring with an array of sensors mounted near potential leak points can enable early methane leak detection and rapid localization. IoT connected, cloud enabled sensor networks are the best way to achieve fast mitigation times, thus reducing the amount of methane lost into the atmosphere (and from the bottom line).

 

Methane Gas Detection 

NevadaNano’s new MPS™ Methane Gas Sensor is the first completely innovative technology for methane leak detection in over 40 years. The key shortcomings of existing sensing technologies are no longer a worry due to the NevadaNano sensors. The MPS™ is a robust Microelectromechanical-system (MEMS) platform that is inherently low-power and poison and drift-resistant to enable calibration intervals that can be measured in years. Built-in environmental compensation is crucial because it delivers reliable, accurate performance across a range of harsh conditions, from -40C to 75C and 5% to 95% relative humidity.

*R. A. Alvarez et al., Science 10.1126/science.aar7204 (2018).