Methane Emissions Monitoring, Mitigation, and Insights to Address Global Climate Change Concerns

The energy industry is focused—from upstream all the way through end use—on addressing methane emissions and minimizing greenhouse gases.

GTI Energy is developing, validating, and integrating technologies and serving as a proving ground to operationalize methane emission technology solutions at scale. We lend our methane reduction expertise to assist companies with direct responsibility for the management of methane within their business achieve their goals.

We are leveraging the innovation and new technologies needed to detect and reduce methane emissions, which will help to ensure we can harness the promise of natural gas as a source to deliver clean energy to communities worldwide and support human progress.

Project Astra: Re-imagining how methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are tracked and analyzed to drive large-scale emission reductions

Project Astra is a global collaborative effort at the forefront of methane detection aimed at reducing methane releases into the atmosphere. The team is developing an innovative sensor network that will harness advances in methane-sensing technologies, data sharing, and data analytics to provide near-continuous emissions monitoring across oil and gas facilities in the Permian Basin and feed information into decision tools.

The team is developing an innovative sensor network that will harness advances in methane-sensing technologies, data sharing, and data analytics to provide near-continuous emissions monitoring across oil and gas facilities in the Permian Basin and feed information into decision tools. A sensor inter-comparison has been completed to determine which existing technologies are suitable for this application; development of a digital twin and network design is preparing to launch, to be followed by a pilot project in 2022.

The project is led by The University of Texas at Austin, and includes Chevron, the Environmental Defense Fund, ExxonMobil, GTI Energy, Microsoft, Pioneer Natural Resources Company, and Schlumberger.

Managing the Collaboratory for Advancing Methane Science (CAMS) to better understand global methane emissions

GTI Energy serves as the program administrator for the Collaboratory for Advancing Methane Science (CAMS), a consortium established by leading energy companies to help the natural gas and oil industry continue to improve its environmental performance by delivering transparent data to help stakeholders identify the most effective methane emissions reduction strategies across all sectors.

A community modeling tool, Methane Emission Estimation Tool (MEET), was developed for constructing inventories of methane emissions from oil and gas operations, providing low-cost ability to assess any potential impacts of different mitigation technologies—and helping quantify uncertainties in estimates. Phase 2 will validate the MEET model in real-world scenarios and produce emission profiles for equipment in different modes of operation and over time.

A first-of-a-kind study to directly measure methane emissions of an operating liquid natural gas (LNG) carrier has been completed. Results from the study will provide critical data-driven insights to identify opportunities for environmental performance improvement.

The consortium was created by leading energy companies BP, Cheniere, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Pioneer Natural Resources, and SIEP, Inc. (Shell). GTI Energy manages the overall program, including individual research projects, as well as fiscal elements.

Methane Mitigation Using Linear Leak Recovery Motor Compressor

Through a major new award from the DOE, GTI Energy will design, build, and test a novel, low cost, leak recovery compressor to capture a wide variety of leaks across the natural gas value chain, including reciprocating compressors and pneumatic controllers that are among the largest methane emitters. Using a low cost, reliable leak recovery compressor, these leaks can be captured from the ventilation systems at legacy and newly installed transmission, storage, gathering, and processing facilities, and compressed back into the pipeline. This project will validate the effectiveness of the technology in a variety of relevant environments to identify and quantify the wide-ranging applications for its use.

methane mitigation thermoelectric generator (MMTEG)/burner photoMidstream Methane Mitigation

GTI Energy and Jet Propulsion Laboratory are developing, testing, and demonstrating a high-efficiency integrated methane mitigation thermoelectric generator (MMTEG)/burner system for oil and gas field operations. The thermoelectric generator provides power to compress air that is used instead of natural gas to operate the pneumatic controllers, resulting in natural gas recovery and reduced methane emissions. Initial experiments to simulate heat transfer to the thermoelectric generators have been completed.

Residential methane detectors (RMDs) augment existing safety programs and their adoption adds another layer of protection for the detection of leaks.

Education and outreach: CH4 Connections and the Center for Methane Research (CMR)

CH4 Connections Methane Emissions Conference

The rapidly changing landscape of technology, regulation, and work practices take center stage at the annual CH4 Connections Methane Emissions Conference.

GTI Energy and the Energy Institute at Colorado State University are excited to host the 7th annual CH4 Connections conference, Technology Enabling Green Initiatives, on November 17-19, 2020. This interactive virtual event will introduce the most current insights, exchange ideas, and promote collaboration.

The 2019 conference was hosted in Fort Collins on September 18-19, bringing together over 250 leading research experts, policy makers, and environmental advocates to collaborate and share perspectives under a “Solutions at Scale” theme. Methane leakage, technologies to detect and reduce emissions, policy and regulatory options, and business implications and opportunities were addressed.

 

Center for Methane Research (CMR)

The Center for Methane Research (CMR) provides a centralized, industry-wide technical and policy support resource focused on the presence, measurement, and potential impacts of methane in the atmosphere, highlighting the interconnected role of natural gas production, delivery, and use.

Development of this “wellhead-to-burner-tip” industry resource provides a common platform of technical understanding that can be used in the decision-making process in support of balanced policy decisions that impact the environment, industry, and ultimately the consumer.

Quantifying methane emissions

  • A project to quantify methane emissions from distribution pipelines for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was completed, providing important information on natural gas leaks from local distribution companies and improving methane emission estimates from this sector. State-specific emission factors based on pipe material were developed and utilized to estimate methane emissions at the state level. The next phase of work is focusing on methane emissions from residential customer meters.
  • In addition, GTI Energy is performing an assessment of fugitive emissions from the natural gas system in commercial buildings for the California Energy Commission that will quantify total building emissions. These efforts will help to create a holistic picture of the total leakage from natural gas activities in California. Field measurements of methane emission from commercial restaurants has been completed and data analysis is underway.
  • GTI Energy and partners received a DOE award to conduct field campaigns to measure methane emissions from new and vintage plastic, plastic-lined steel and cast-iron pipes, as well as from industrial meters. Information collected on parameters will allow further classification of pipeline and meter emission categories to improve the EPA’s U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory and help operators prioritize the repair of leaks.
  • GTI Energy and RTI International will serve as subcontractors to PPG Industries in a DOE-sponsored project to develop and demonstrate a system to provide remote monitoring of natural gas pipeline conditions and to provide early detection of factors that may lead to an unintended release of methane.

Enhancing the ability of utilities to measure methane emissions more accurately

Working closely with operators and industry stakeholders, GTI Energy collected and analyzed leak data for buried pipe at a host of sites in the U.S. Using better-quality methods for the quantification of methane emissions, GTI Energy’s work is leading to more precise measurement so policymakers and private industry can have more accurate information. This high-quality data will improve estimates for activity data and promote the acceptance of new methane emissions quantification methods for compliance with EPA reporting requirements and other regulations under development.

Tools and technologies for detection, prevention, and mitigation

GTI Energy has developed and evaluated various leak detection technologies and is currently improving these devices for various applications, ranging from the well head to residential homes.

In the early 2000s, GTI Energy supported development of an innovative portable tool called the Hi Flow Sampler™ that can rapidly and accurately measure methane leaks—fugitive emissions—from a variety of gas industry equipment. The tool, once commercially available from Heath Consultants, was one of the first devices available for real-time measurements of gas flow rates and concentrations in a captured enclosure at the surface.

The Portable Methane Detector (PMD), developed by GTI Energy and available from SENSIT Technologies, improves the efficiency of walking leak surveys. Using optical-detection technology, the PMD device offers sensitivity and cost advantages over conventional techniques employing flame ionization detectors.

Methane monitoring tools, comprised of a network of remote sensors connected wirelessly via phone or tablet to provide information about methane concentration at multiple points at a leak site, have been developed by GTI Energy with support from Operations Technology Development (OTD). Field testing and demonstrations are underway with first responders. A utility measurement use case is assessing semi-permanent longer-range wireless access for utilities to monitor leaks over time. Sensit Technologies has signed a license to commercialize the technology and is working closely with operators to design and test a prototype that meets their needs.

Methane concentration does not tell the whole story. Utilities need a repeatable method to compare the leak rate and prioritize Class 2 & 3 leaks. Another new tool simultaneously measures CH4 concentration, air flow, temperature, and humidity for improved measurement and quantification of leak classification.

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