From: Yale Environment 360
Published March 23, 2017 02:32 PM

Google Street View Cars Are Now Helping to Track Methane Leaks

Google Street View cars have driven millions of miles across the globe, capturing 360-degree images of roadways and communities on all seven continents. Now, scientists and environmentalists are teaming up to add pollution trackers to the vehicles so they can monitor natural gas leaks as they drive.

The new project, detailed this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is being led by researchers at Colorado State University, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Google Earth Outreach.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short-term. It is also leaking at high rates from aging urban pipe systems. Boston, for example, loses nearly 3 percent of its natural gas supply through cracked and faulty pipes each year, an estimated loss of $90 million. But until recently, collecting data on such leaks was costly and time-consuming, and utilities and communities rarely did it.

Read more at Yale Environment 360

Image: A Google Street View car equipped with a mobile methane analyzer to track natural gas leaks on city streets. (Credits: Colorado State University)

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