AGCS Sensor for Gas Leak Detection

EPA Contract Number: 68D00256
Title: AGCS Sensor for Gas Leak Detection
Investigators: Wamsley, Paula R.
Current Investigators: Nelson, Loren D.
Small Business: OPHIR Corporation
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through March 1, 2001
Project Amount: $69,958
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The Phase I objective is to build a new sensor for remote detection of natural gas leaks from pipelines, reservoirs, compressor stations, and storage tanks. The sensor uses optical methods utilizing a new Active Gas Correlation Spectrometer (AGCS) to detect methane and ethane. OPHIR Corporation's proposed system will detect leaks more than tens of meters away with high sensitivity. By detecting both methane and ethane (typically present at low levels in natural gas), interferences with naturally occurring methane can be reduced or eliminated. The use of gas correlation spectroscopy provides high sensitivity and gas selectivity at a dramatically lower cost than competing optical sensors based on laser spectroscopy or Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).

There exists a large commercial potential for the proposed sensor driven by two needs in the oil and gas industry. The first need is to periodically survey all pipeline and distribution infrastructure for leaks, thus requiring a mobile system. The second is the need to continuously monitor large areas that have a high potential for leakage, and give an early warning. Examples might be storage tanks near refineries or above underground storage facilities, in which case the system might remain fixed in place. In both cases, the leaks are a safety hazard, a waste of a valuable energy resource, and a source of greenhouse emissions. An advantage of the proposed system is that it can be readily configured to meet these different needs not only for natural gas, but also for carbon dioxide. The latter is becoming more important because of its use in enhanced oil recovery and proposed sequestration efforts.

The proposed AGCS will be a valuable tool necessary to help identify and quantify methane and carbon dioxide emissions so that they may be reduced and eliminated. Only with tools such as this can greenhouse goals be met and verified.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, gas emissions, global climate, remote sensing, infrastructure, pollution prevention, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Chemical Engineering, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, HAPS, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Civil Engineering, Environmental Monitoring, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Ecological Indicators, monitoring, remote sensing, active gas correlation spectrometer (AGCS), optical indicators, continuous monitoring, detect, gas leak, detection system, methane, optical detectors, carbon dioxide, optical detection, spectroscopic, sensor

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report