Methane-Emission Sensor Network Initiative

The University of Texas at Austin, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), ExxonMobil, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and Pioneer Natural Resources Company are collaborating on a network of sensors for emissions monitoring across the oil and gas process industry.

Project Astra seeks to develop a sensor network that would continuously measure emissions of the greenhouse gas methane to locate potential leaks. The sensor network would excelerate the time it takes to identify and fix leaks.

The first step of the project is to test methane-sensing technologies in the Permian Basin region of Texas and determine if they are capable of operating autonomously. The entire network would be designed in virtual reality (VR), simulating oil and gas production in that section of Texas. The VR simulation is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Developed by researchers at the University of Austin, the simulation will model real-time concentrations of methane along with other components of natural gas present in the atmosphere under standard operating conditions. The simulation will also provide instances when fugitive emissions are present.

Photo: University of Texas at Austin.

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