From: University of Michigan via ScienceDaily
Published August 16, 2016 10:07 AM

Methane leaks: A new way to find and fix in real time

Researchers have flown aircraft over an oil and gas field and pinpointed -- with unprecedented precision -- sources of the greenhouse gas methane in real time. The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest.

The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest. The approach could inform strategies for meeting new federal limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane emissions have spiked in recent decades along with the boom in natural gas drilling.

"If there's a desire to identify and address the largest methane emitters, our approach provides a way to do that. The method shows that you can easily fly over an area and actually see the plumes in real time," said Eric Kort, assistant professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan and co-author on a paper about the research to be published in PNAS.

Kort collaborated on deploying the new approach, which was developed by Christian Frankenberg of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. The overall project is led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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