Methane Detectors Challenge

Catalyzing next generation air emissions monitors to tackle methane pollution

Environmental Defense Fund and eight oil and natural gas companies are challenging technology developers and engineers to design cutting-edge, new methane monitors that can help the oil and gas industry better detect and reduce, methane emissions.

Methane is a pressing climate issue with enormous environmental upside when reduced. In many cases, there are also economic advantages for oil and gas companies to capture gas for sales that is otherwise leaked. Advancing technologies that make it easier for companies to continuously detect methane leaks is the goal of the challenge.

State of the Challenge

EDF and its partners collaboratively selected five applicants whose technologies were tested by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), one of the nation’s largest and most well-established, independent applied research organizations. Laboratory testing of the five technologies was conducted in fall 2014 at SwRI in San Antonio.

The selection panel was advised by independent experts from Aerodyne, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Houston Advanced Research Center, in addition to others from the research and technology communities.

The technologies performed well in detecting methane concentrations over a range of temperature and humidity conditions. Four of the technologies (Dalian Actech/SenSevere, SenseAir AB, Quanta3 and University of Colorado/NDP Group) were selected by EDF and the participating companies to advance to second phase field testing. Throughout this past summer, SwRI conducted intensive indoor and outdoor testing and evaluation.

Currently, partners in the oil and gas industry are moving to purchase and deploy the top performing technologies. Participating companies will pilot the sensor systems across a range of geographies and facilities beginning in the first quarter of 2016.

Why we’re doing this

We’re spearheading this effort — in collaboration with Anadarko, Apache Corporation, BG Group, Hess Corporation, Noble Energy, Shell, Southwestern Energy and Statoil — to catalyze new technology for continuous detection of methane.