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Remote Sensing Methane Leaks Using Laser Detection
(CORDIS focus, Issue 52/53 - April 2006)
The gas industry requires safe, rapid and accurate means of detecting leaks of natural gas. An EU-funded project has developed a system using a laser beam to detect small quantities of methane with accuracy even from a distance of 30 metres.
A range of prototypes has been produced by Siemens and by Glasgow University. The low-weight, low power consumption and compact instruments are ready for commercial exploitation in a significant sized European market for such equipment.
The system, referred to as a laser pointer, measures the spectral absorption of methane as the laser beam passes through the air around the suspected leak. Different gases absorb light at different frequencies so each has a characteristic absorption signature.
The project team's system can be aimed at the area to be tested for leaks from a distance of up to 30 metres. The field tests found that it could detect concentrations of methane from a few tens to at least 1 000 parts per million by mass.
With a time resolution of 100 milliseconds, the laser pointer speeds up gas leak detection. Both the speed of leak detection and the range reduce risks, potentially contributing to saving lives.
Collaboration sought: information exchange/training
Funded: within the FP5 programme EESD (Energy, environment and sustainable development).
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