Aerial Detection of Methane
Methane is the dominant component of natural gas which has the lowest carbon footprint of any greenhouse gas so long as it is completely combusted.
However unburnt methane ‘traps’ significantly more infrared radiation per unit mass than does CO2. Methane leaks also present a major safety hazard and a significant risk to infrastructure that carries in excess of a 1 trillion dollars of natural gas per annum. Hence, there is an urgent need for a method of cheaply and efficiently mapping pipeline infrastructure for leaks.
We are currently developing a new technology for the remote detection of methane using solid state lasers. These lidar systems will be flown on fixed-wing aircraft enabling a survey cost that is dramatically cheaper than any existing alternatives.
There are multiple projects offered in this area ranging from power scaling of lasers to enhancing the data product by developing new data analysis techniques for converting the methane concentration measurements to all important leak rates.