DOE Funding to Help Create Next-Gen Methane Emissions Data Platform


Nov 02, 2023

Disparate Data – Methane Measurements Vary Widely

Researchers from academia, industry, and other organizations are making great efforts to detect and quantify methane emissions across the United States. Measuring methane emissions is crucial to finding and mitigating leaks from pipelines, equipment, and wells, and is a critical part of meeting climate goals. However, methane detection methods vary widely in spatial and temporal scales. For example, sensors near oil and gas equipment may give readings of methane emissions at a specific location every 15 minutes, while airborne and satellite-based sensors give an overview of entire basins far less frequently.

The first step to standardizing these measurements is getting all of the data in a single place. To meet that need, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has awarded funding to the Swiss multinational corporation ABB to design and build an Integrated Methane Monitoring Platform. The project is valued at $1 million, of which 80 percent will come from the DOE award.

Funding the Future – DOE Advancing Methane Detection Technologies

DOE is providing funds to ABB through its Innovative Methane Measurement, Monitoring, and Mitigation Technologies funding opportunity that the agency announced in March 2023. The program includes $47 million in funding for 22 projects aimed at developing new and innovative technologies to measure, monitor, and mitigate methane emissions in oil and gas producing regions throughout the United States. Detecting, quantifying, and eliminating methane emissions through these projects will help support the Biden administration’s U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, so reducing methane emissions is a critical part of meeting national climate goals.

The Road Ahead – ABB to Develop Engineering Plan and Develop System

ABB is recognized as a leader in methane sensing technology, making it a good fit for this project. The company will rely on its experience with measurement and data aggregation technologies to develop the Integrated Methane Monitoring Platform. The first steps will involve developing an engineering plan for the platform. Once operational, the Integrated Methane Monitoring Platform will be able to take methane emissions measurements collected using a wide variety of methods over different spatial and temporal scales and aggregate them in a single database. The platform will also enable detailed analysis of these aggregated measurements using big data techniques and provide methods for visualizing and presenting emissions data in a variety of formats.

The ability to aggregate, analyze, and visualize methane emissions data will allow industry professionals, academic experts, and policy makers to quickly identify and prioritize mitigation efforts to maximize impact. In addition, it will be possible to identify long-term and short-term trends in methane emissions. These capabilities will help with characterizing major emissions sources as well as smaller, persistent emissions. Having accurate data on methane emissions sources will will have a profound impact on efforts to repair equipment and pipeline leaks and seal abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells that are leaking methane.

Mitigation Technology – Sealing Methane Leaks

A new technology originally developed with funding from the DOE and NETL for carbon sequestration in the form of biomineralization is quickly proving to be one of the most impactful technologies for methane mitigation. For wells with annular leaks BioSqueeze® provides a revolutionary solution that is more effective and reduces risk compared to other remedial options. Utilizing natural soil bacteria delivered via a low-viscosity fluid system, BioSqueeze® penetrates tortuous pathways other sealants cannot to create a gas-tight limestone seal that restores integrity and permanently sequesters gas.

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