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Methane monitoring challenge

A new competition co-sponsored by Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative (NGI) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is calling all engineers and technology developers to submit proposals for mobile methane leak monitoring technology by October 31, 2017.

Infrared Methane Leak
Infrared photo of methane leak.
Credit: Tim O'Connor

Why now?

The oil and gas industry accounts for about one-third of all methane emissions in the US. In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updated its standards to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas industry. However, natural gas prices are at record lows – about $3 per million cubic feet -- reducing the economic incentive to employ expensive leak solutions. Therefore, we need mobile, low-cost, and preferably fast solutions to finding gas leaks.

This is where Stanford University and EDF come in. Stanford and EDF are joining forces on the Mobile Monitoring Challenge. The Mobile Monitoring Challenge will be an independent and peer-reviewed effort to test methane detection and quantification technologies that could provide rapid and low-cost assessment of significant emissions sources over a large numbers of facilities.

What is the Mobile Monitoring Challenge?

We will invite select teams to take part in a single-partial blind study of controlled methane releases over a 3-week period in early 2018. Stanford University scientists will design and administer a series of large-scale controlled methane releases at a single location, and study teams will do their best to find and quantify the methane released. These technologies could either be ground based (truck-mounted) or aerial (planes, satellites, etc.), with a key feature being the ability to quickly assess leaks while in motion and while off-site. A fraction of the controlled release data will be given to all the teams for calibration purposes, and teams will be expected to estimate the remaining release volumes. Following the experiment, Stanford scientists will independently analyze the estimates from teams and publish the results in open and peer-reviewed scientific journals.

How will this help?

Each sector in the natural gas supply chain – be it large-area production well-pads, or long-distance transmission lines – will require tailored solutions that cater to unique challenges. This challenge will highlight the most promising solutions for methane leak detection – solutions that are rapid, low-cost, and mobile.  Such solutions will pave the way for sustainable and profitable solutions to the leakage problem.

You can find more information on participating in this challenge by downloading the application at the top of this page.

Industry and government agencies: Please contact us to learn more about participating as an observer in this project. See contact info above.


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