Drone-Based Methane Emissions Detection

Proceedings Publication Date:

22 Mar 2022
Kyle Fairchild
Kyle Fairchild, Mark Iden
Part of the proceedings of

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has become a major concern worldwide. In fact, methane emissions were a major theme of the recent COP26 Climate Summit. Over 100 nations pledged to cut 30% of their methane emissions by 2030. Regulatory restrictions will soon follow. The 2 million miles of pipelines worldwide is a primary source of these methane emissions. Many of these pipelines are aging and leak-prone.

SkyData Air & Space (a US corporation) proposes to fly a tiny laser spectrometer along the world’s gas pipelines to quickly and accurately assess the location and magnitude of these emissions. Weighing 150 grams with a sensitivity of 10 parts per billion, it is orders of magnitude lighter and more sensitive than comparable sensors.

Current methods of methane detection have a gap between just above ground level to about 100 meters.. Based on significantly reduced operational costs, drone-based detection within this 100 meters will be much more frequent (e.g., daily or weekly instead of 2 to 4 times a year).

All the component technologies of this solution are ready for commercialization. Next steps are to define the operational configuration, perform systems integration, field testing, and pilot project rollout with one or two pipeline operators.

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