GHGMap: Aerial measurements of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions

Project code: 2016-65

Project type: Oil & Gas

Proponent: Dr Michael Whiticar

Project location: Western Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan


Developing and testing drone-mounted laser sensors to measure greenhouse gas emissions | Locating and measuring emissions at greenhouse gas emitting sites

GHGMap uses novel sensors, developed by NASA/JPL , on drones to improve the speed, accuracy, safety and cost of measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The technology will be used to remotely map emissions of gases such as methane, ethane and carbon dioxide -- providing the independent measurement data needed for informed decisions.

Developing and using new technologies to better understand GHG emissions helps Canada to maintain its reputation as a leader in clean resource development, in GHG emission reduction and in innovation. By bringing technology closer to commercialization, GHGMap will also create new economic opportunities for Western Canada. The Need
GHGMap meets a need to accurately and cost-effectively measure emissions of methane, ethane and carbon dioxide from sites that may be high sources of GHGs. These include natural and manmade sites such as, wetlands, landfills, sewage treatment plants, agricultural feedlots, gas wells, infrastructure and pipelines, dams and thawing permafrost.

- Accurate measurement is essential to reliably assess true GHG emissions, not just modelled values.

- As legislation evolves to work towards emissions reduction targets, governments need measurement-based GHG budgets to develop robust GHG inventories and quantify and verify reductions.

- The petroleum energy sector and others want GHGMap to identify and reduce emissions.

- Communities are demanding comprehensive, accurate and economical ways to obtain GHG emissions data, as they seek to make balanced resource development and the environmental decisions.


Project Goals
Initially running from 2017 to 2020, GHGMap will:

- Provide the first Canadian GHG inventory based on real-time, remote data collection, rather than the emissions models currently used for reporting.

- Deploy laser spectrometer (OPLS) technology from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to measure GHG emissions.

- Rapidly obtain and report measurements of trace quantities of greenhouse gas emissions on a regional scale or within just a few metres of GHG emitting site.

- Identify and test greenhouse gas emissions at a variety of petroleum energy sites in Western Canada to improve identification and remediation.

- Train highly qualified personnel to use equipment to survey GHG emissions.

- Demonstrate real-time GHG emission monitoring and attract future commercial investment in and use of the technology by demonstrating a sustainable business model. The technology will be tested at selected gas sites in northeast British Columbia before being rolled out to other parts of Western Canada.

Project Benefits
GHGMap uses a laser spectrometer (OPLS) originally designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that measures critical GHGs, including methane, ethane and carbon dioxide at parts-per-billion levels. This tiny, 400 g OPLS instrument is mounted and flown on a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (sUAV or drone) to map GHG concentrations and distributions.

The GHGMap team, which includes Geoscience BC, Geochemical Analytic Services, InDro Robotics and NASA/JPL, is also partnering with Optical Knowledge Systems to build the next generation system, a Capillary Absorption Spectrometer (CAS), which will add the powerfully diagnostic gas fingerprinting of carbon isotope to the measurement palette.

This will use 'atmospheric dispersion' and 'eddy covariance flux' modelling to pinpoint locations and intensities of specific emissions.

An important feature is the integration of large-scale methane and carbon dioxide measurements using Canada's new GHGSat satellite. GHGMap bridges the scale and data gaps between satellite data and on-site pointsource measurements.

Survey Area
Initial work in British Columbia, rolling out to Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Detail

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