Innovation That Matters

Safety drone | Photo source Pixabay

Drone monitors methane leaks at fracking sites


The drone monitors natural gas and methane levels at extraction sites to check for gas leaks.

The recent explosion in shale natural gas extraction in the US has massively improved the nation’s energy portfolio, reducing its reliance on coal and oil imports. But at least two percent of natural gas resources are lost through leaks of the greenhouse gas methane at production sites.

Now a new drone, the RMLD-Sentry, is set to help monitor and reduce the amount of gas wasted in onsite leaks. The UAV will use a remote methane leak detector to check for gas escapes, and reduce the cost of going to sites manually. If methane is detected, the drone will attend the site and search the gas well until the source of the leak is found.

The drone is being designed by Physical Sciences Inc., using their standard miniature UAV, along with the monitoring technology developed by Heath Consultants Inc., Princeton University, the University of Houston, and Thorlabs Quantum Electronics.

The developers say the drone will be able to provide 24-hour surveying to gas extraction sites, while improving the safety and sustainability of the gas wells.

We have already seen Norwegian researchers develop smart undersea oil pipes that check themselves for leaks, and carbon capture technology in Switzerland being used on an industrial scale for the first time. What other emerging technologies can help make old oil and gas infrastructure safer and cleaner?



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