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Title: Methane, Ethane, and Propane Sensor for Real-time Leak Detection and Diagnostics

Abstract

The Phase I effort demonstrated the technical viability of a fast, sensitive, mobile hydrocarbon monitor. The instrument will enable the oil and gas industry, researchers, and regulators to rapidly identify and chemically profile leaks from facilities. This capability will allow operators to quickly narrow down and mitigate probable leaking equipment, minimizing product loss and penalties due to regulatory non-compliance. During the initial development phase, we demonstrated operation of a prototype monitor that is capable of measuring methane, ethane, and propane at sub-part-per-billion sensitivities in 1 second, using direct absorption infrared spectroscopy. To our knowledge, this is the first instrument capable of fast propane measurements at atmospheric concentrations. In addition, the electrical requirements of the monitor have been reduced from the 1,200 W typical of a spectrometer, to <500 W, making it capable of being powered by a passenger vehicle, and easily deployed by the industry. The prototype monitor leverages recent advances in laser technology, using high-efficiency interband cascade lasers to access the 3 μm region of the mid-infrared, where the methane, ethane, and propane absorptions are strongest. Combined with established spectrometer technology, we have achieved precisions below 200 ppt for each compound. This allows the monitor to measure fast plumesmore » from oil and gas facilities, as well as ambient background concentrations (typical ambient levels are 2 ppm, 1.5 ppb, and 0.7 ppb for methane, ethane and propane, respectively). Increases in instrument operating pressure were studied in order to allow for a smaller 125 W pump to be used, and passive cooling was explored to reduce the cooling load by almost 90% relative to active (refrigerated) cooling. In addition, the simulated infrared absorption profiles of ethane and propane were modified to minimize crosstalk between species, achieving <1% crosstalk between ethane and propane. Finally, a monitor was designed based upon the commercial compact mini-spectrometer capable of dual-laser operation. We intend to build and test this during phase II. Multiple opportunities for improvement were also identified. First, the reported ethane and propane concentrations are susceptible to external acceleration acting upon the instrument. During phase II we will address this “motion-sickness”. Second, significant software development will be needed operate the monitor at 1 second resolution in real time, and provide rapid, actionable data to a driver or passenger.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1347976
Report Number(s):
DOE-ARI-11219-1
9789320207
DOE Contract Number:
SC0015736
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
03 NATURAL GAS; 02 PETROLEUM; 04 OIL SHALES AND TAR SANDS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; propane; ethane; methane; sensor; leak detection; diagnostics; emissions; LDAR; greenhouse gases

Citation Formats

Roscioli, Joseph R., Herndon, Scott, Nelson, David D., and Yacovitch, Tara. Methane, Ethane, and Propane Sensor for Real-time Leak Detection and Diagnostics. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1347976.
Roscioli, Joseph R., Herndon, Scott, Nelson, David D., & Yacovitch, Tara. Methane, Ethane, and Propane Sensor for Real-time Leak Detection and Diagnostics. United States. doi:10.2172/1347976.
Roscioli, Joseph R., Herndon, Scott, Nelson, David D., and Yacovitch, Tara. Fri . "Methane, Ethane, and Propane Sensor for Real-time Leak Detection and Diagnostics". United States. doi:10.2172/1347976. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1347976.
@article{osti_1347976,
title = {Methane, Ethane, and Propane Sensor for Real-time Leak Detection and Diagnostics},
author = {Roscioli, Joseph R. and Herndon, Scott and Nelson, David D. and Yacovitch, Tara},
abstractNote = {The Phase I effort demonstrated the technical viability of a fast, sensitive, mobile hydrocarbon monitor. The instrument will enable the oil and gas industry, researchers, and regulators to rapidly identify and chemically profile leaks from facilities. This capability will allow operators to quickly narrow down and mitigate probable leaking equipment, minimizing product loss and penalties due to regulatory non-compliance. During the initial development phase, we demonstrated operation of a prototype monitor that is capable of measuring methane, ethane, and propane at sub-part-per-billion sensitivities in 1 second, using direct absorption infrared spectroscopy. To our knowledge, this is the first instrument capable of fast propane measurements at atmospheric concentrations. In addition, the electrical requirements of the monitor have been reduced from the 1,200 W typical of a spectrometer, to <500 W, making it capable of being powered by a passenger vehicle, and easily deployed by the industry. The prototype monitor leverages recent advances in laser technology, using high-efficiency interband cascade lasers to access the 3 μm region of the mid-infrared, where the methane, ethane, and propane absorptions are strongest. Combined with established spectrometer technology, we have achieved precisions below 200 ppt for each compound. This allows the monitor to measure fast plumes from oil and gas facilities, as well as ambient background concentrations (typical ambient levels are 2 ppm, 1.5 ppb, and 0.7 ppb for methane, ethane and propane, respectively). Increases in instrument operating pressure were studied in order to allow for a smaller 125 W pump to be used, and passive cooling was explored to reduce the cooling load by almost 90% relative to active (refrigerated) cooling. In addition, the simulated infrared absorption profiles of ethane and propane were modified to minimize crosstalk between species, achieving <1% crosstalk between ethane and propane. Finally, a monitor was designed based upon the commercial compact mini-spectrometer capable of dual-laser operation. We intend to build and test this during phase II. Multiple opportunities for improvement were also identified. First, the reported ethane and propane concentrations are susceptible to external acceleration acting upon the instrument. During phase II we will address this “motion-sickness”. Second, significant software development will be needed operate the monitor at 1 second resolution in real time, and provide rapid, actionable data to a driver or passenger.},
doi = {10.2172/1347976},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Mar 24 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Fri Mar 24 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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  • Ophir Corporation was awarded a contract by the U. S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory under the Project Title ''Airborne, Optical Remote Sensing of Methane and Ethane for Natural Gas Pipeline Leak Detection'' on October 14, 2002. This six-month technical report summarizes the progress for each of the proposed tasks, discusses project concerns, and outlines near-term goals. Ophir has completed a data survey of two major natural gas pipeline companies on the design requirements for an airborne, optical remote sensor. The results of this survey are disclosed in this report. A substantial amount of time was spent onmore » modeling the expected optical signal at the receiver at different absorption wavelengths, and determining the impact of noise sources such as solar background, signal shot noise, and electronic noise on methane and ethane gas detection. Based upon the signal to noise modeling and industry input, Ophir finalized the design requirements for the airborne sensor, and released the critical sensor light source design requirements to qualified vendors. Responses from the vendors indicated that the light source was not commercially available, and will require a research and development effort to produce. Three vendors have responded positively with proposed design solutions. Ophir has decided to conduct short path optical laboratory experiments to verify the existence of methane and absorption at the specified wavelength, prior to proceeding with the light source selection. Techniques to eliminate common mode noise were also evaluated during the laboratory tests. Finally, Ophir has included a summary of the potential concerns for project success and has established future goals.« less
  • Ophir Corporation was awarded a contract by the U. S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory under the Project Title ''Airborne, Optical Remote Sensing of Methane and Ethane for Natural Gas Pipeline Leak Detection'' on October 14, 2002. The third six-month technical report contains a summary of the progress made towards finalizing the design and assembling the airborne, remote methane and ethane sensor. The vendor has been chosen and is on contract to develop the light source with the appropriate linewidth and spectral shape to best utilize the Ophir gas correlation software. Ophir has expanded upon the target reflectancemore » testing begun in the previous performance period by replacing the experimental receiving optics with the proposed airborne large aperture telescope, which is theoretically capable of capturing many times more signal return. The data gathered from these tests has shown the importance of optimizing the fiber optic receiving fiber to the receiving optic and has helped Ophir to optimize the design of the gas cells and narrowband optical filters. Finally, Ophir will discuss remaining project issues that may impact the success of the project.« less
  • Ophir Corporation was awarded a contract by the U. S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory under the Project Title ''Airborne, Optical Remote Sensing of Methane and Ethane for Natural Gas Pipeline Leak Detection'' on October 14, 2002. This second six-month technical report summarizes the progress made towards defining, designing, and developing the hardware and software segments of the airborne, optical remote methane and ethane sensor. The most challenging task to date has been to identify a vendor capable of designing and developing a light source with the appropriate output wavelength and power. This report will document the workmore » that has been done to identify design requirements, and potential vendors for the light source. Significant progress has also been made in characterizing the amount of light return available from a remote target at various distances from the light source. A great deal of time has been spent conducting laboratory and long-optical path target reflectance measurements. This is important since it helps to establish the overall optical output requirements for the sensor. It also reduces the relative uncertainty and risk associated with developing a custom light source. The data gathered from the optical path testing has been translated to the airborne transceiver design in such areas as: fiber coupling, optical detector selection, gas filters, and software analysis. Ophir will next, summarize the design progress of the transceiver hardware and software development. Finally, Ophir will discuss remaining project issues that may impact the success of the project.« less
  • Ophir Corporation was awarded a contract by the U. S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory under the Project Title ''Airborne, Optical Remote Sensing of Methane and Ethane for Natural Gas Pipeline Leak Detection'' on October 14, 2002. The scope of the work involved designing and developing an airborne, optical remote sensor capable of sensing methane and, if possible, ethane for the detection of natural gas pipeline leaks. Flight testing using a custom dual wavelength, high power fiber amplifier was initiated in February 2005. Ophir successfully demonstrated the airborne system, showing that it was capable of discerning small amountsmore » of methane from a simulated pipeline leak. Leak rates as low as 150 standard cubic feet per hour (scf/h) were detected by the airborne sensor.« less