The Centre for Carbon Measurement at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is leading a European consortium to develop and test new methane measurement instruments for shale gas extraction, municipal waste water treatment plants and gas distribution. The consortium includes Cuadrilla Resources, Veolia Environnement and National Grid.
Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership working to address the challenge of climate change, has awarded €1.266 million to FuME (Fugitive Methane Emissions), a new project that will help to identify fugitive methane emissions.
Fugitive methane emissions are of great importance to climate change and government and industry’s response to it, due to its high global warming impact of 34 and 86 times that of CO2 over 100 and 20 years, respectively. While these emissions represent low hanging fruit for reductions, capturing fugitive methane emissions can directly produce saleable gas. In addition, 35% of methane abatement options have a net profit and others are relatively cheap to deploy with large climate change mitigation benefits.
Better detection and quantification of fugitive methane emissions will contribute substantially to climate change mitigation, as methane represents 16% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. As well as mitigation opportunities, this creates potentially huge opportunities for innovation and economic growth through the provision of new products and services for the sectors in which fugitive methane can be captured.
The project will develop methane measurement services, made up of a number of different products, including modelling tools, a laser based open-path methane detection spectrometer and sensor networks in which the services can be adapted to user requirements depending on the sector, the complexity of the site, and the user requirements in each case.
The project will see the Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL working with ARIA Technologies, CEREA and LSCE to adapt instrumentation, measurement techniques and methodologies for the target sectors. Industry representatives Cuadrilla Resources, Veolia Environnement and National Grid will provide sites and operational expertise to the project.
Publications from the project will include a set of guidelines per industry (waste water treatment, transmission grid, shale gas extraction) for fugitive methane emission measurement best practice, a collection of reports summarising the project results, scientific papers on different methods for quantifying fugitive methane emissions and the comparative accuracy levels, the learning from the project for emissions factors for waste water treatment, the use of inverse modeling to estimate fugitive emissions when used in conjunction with measurements, as well as a comparison of different dispersion models.
The findings of this work are expected to contribute to standards and guideline documents for industry including for example Best Available Technology guidelines highlighting how to monitor sites and capture fugitive losses.
Jane Burston, Head of the Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL, said:
“Methane plays a big role in global warming. The IPCC recently updated their estimate of methane’s global warming potential from 72 times that of carbon dioxide to 86 times over a 20 year time period. So it’s a critical area to tackle for climate change mitigation. At the same time many opportunities to reduce fugitive losses are profit-making or cost neutral, so it’s a potential business opportunity too.”