Methane from Space, and Happy Birthday to MI!

Happy 1st Anniversary to the Methane International blog, which premiered on July 20, 2015! We hope you have found this format to be useful in learning about the latest GMI, methane, and climate news. The invitation from our first post still stands – please feel free to submit entries with our MI Article Submission Form!

This week we’d like to feature work from our American partner National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observatory blog. In March, they published a fantastic post chock full of charts and graphs on why methane matters and scientists’ work to quantify the effects of methane emissions. The March post features:

We especially enjoyed the handy charts and graphs, such as this useful graph with projections:

NASA-ch4-graph

(credit: NASA)

In a follow-up post this month, NASA rounded up the results of current methane studies. This post explains the following in plain language:

  • Why the agricultural sector (rice and livestock production) is likely the culprit of recent methane concentration increases;
  • How the U.S. has played an outsized role in global methane emissions increases; and
  • The role of satellites in the future of quantifying methane emissions.

We hope you will continue to return to the Methane International Blog as your one-stop shop on all methane news and global emission reduction activities!

 

Win a Scholarship to 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School

iswa-headerAlthough it’s high summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Global Methane Initiative is already glancing ahead to the 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School. The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) will hold the conference on 16-27 January 2017, at the University of Texas at Arlington’s (UTA’s) Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS). GMI has become an annual participant at the conference – last year, GMI’s own Tom Frankiewicz served as a presenter on the “Global Waste Management Perspective” panel discussion.

swis-logoThis year, SWIS is offering a chance to win a full scholarship to the Winter School through a sustainable waste management essay competition. Students and professionals from around the world are invited to write an essay on a specific aspect of solid waste management in their respective countries. The authors of the best essays will be awarded scholarships to attend the Winter School. Scholarships cover the following:

  • Free registration to the 2017 ISWA-SWIS Winter School at UTA
  • Lodging and transportation during their stay for the Winter School
  • Free air round-trip ticket from country of residence to DFW Airport, Dallas, Texas will be provided to a limited number of applicants

The deadline to apply for a Winter School scholarship is 15 September 2016 (Texas local time). Additional submission guidelines and rules are on ISWA’s website.

For more information about the Winter School itself, you can download the ISWA-SWIS brochure or check out the conference on ISWA’s Calendar of Events.

UTA-logo

May News Round-Up

A mish-mash of methane news this May!

First, a little self-promotion: our own Felicia Ruiz and Raymond C. Pilcher (Raven Ridge) penned a piece on coal bed methane and coal mine methane development in Mongolia for World Coal. Check it out!

There was a lot of attention on cows this month – specifically on their belches, flatulence, and manure that are key sources of methane emissions. We here at GMI advocate capturing the methane from cow manure through anaerobic digestion to use as biogas, but an entrepreneurial Italian took our advice a step further – to use the remaining de-methanated concoction as a raw material to make plaster, bricks and other objects known as merdacotta, or literally, ‘baked poop.’. Meanwhile, scientists in other parts of the world are attempting to tackle methane emissions that result from enteric fermentation, from feeding the cows hops or a compound called 3-nitrooxypropanol to reduce methane emissions from digestion. Indians are taking a different approach by studying miniature Vechur cows for their dairy production needs that release only 10% the level of methane emissions of a normal-sized cow.

The United States made a big announcement: new regulations that will target emissions from new or modified oil and gas wells. The New Republic and Washington Post followed up with analytical think pieces on the importance of methane mitigation and why the impact of methane emissions can be confusing. Vox published an explainer that describes the new U.S. regulations within the larger context of U.S. climate pledges.

Finally, two methane mentions this month outside our usual spectrum: 1) Swedish researchers are developing clothes that would be able to absorb methane from the ambient atmosphere, and 2) Rwanda inaugurated a power plant that uses a natural methane emissions source found in its Lake Kivu.

…Until June!

P.S. If you didn’t see it, the Climate Lab Book created a compellingspiral2016-2 infographic that shows global temperature change since 1850. Worth keeping!

 

May Methane News Round-Up

Global Methane Forum Presentation Highlights: Technology to Quantify Methane Emissions in the Oil & Gas Sector

Over the coming weeks Methane International will continue to feature presentations from the 2016 Global Methane Forum (GMF). Last week we covered the GMF’s plenary session on China’s Food Waste and Sludge Management Practices, Challenges, and Lessons Learned. Up this week, from the Oil & Gas technical session, is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) and this program’s efforts to develop Technology to Quantify Methane Emissions.

Dr. Bryan Willson, Program Manager for ARPA-E’s Methane Observation Network Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) Program highlighted ongoing projects working to provide cutting edge leak detection technologies to not only cost effectively locate leaks, but also quantify leaks. Dr. Willson’s presentation highlighted 11 ongoing projects that received awards from ARPA-E: six fixed systems, four mobile systems, and one enabling system. The technologies roughly break down into four categories: Point-Sensing, Aerial, Imaging, and Enabling Technologies. Below is a brief introduction and links for more information.


Point-Sensing Technologies 

Aeris Technologies – Miniature, High Accuracy Tunable Laser Spectrometer

aeris
Aeris Technologies’ miniature sensor is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand.

Partners: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rice University
Aeris’ Laser Spectrometer is sensitive to leaks smaller than one part per billion per second, exceeding detection limits of similar technologies.

 

LI-COR – Laser Spectroscopic Point Sensor
Partners: Colorado State University, Gener8
LI-COR’s Laser Spectroscopic Point Sensor is suitable for continuous or intermittent monitoring and has both stationary and mobile applications.

IBM – Low-Cost On-Chip Optical Sensor
Partners: Princeton University, Harvard University, Southwestern Energy
IBM’s sensor system communicates in real time with weather information and other cloud-based data to analyze, detect, and localize leaks.

Duke University – Coded Aperture Miniature Mass Spectrometer

cathode
Duke University’s coded aperture cathodes are just microns across.

Partners: RTI International
The mobile miniature mass spectrometer features field emission cathodes just a few microns across. The microfabricated, coded apertures contain advanced search/location algorithms for optimum sampling. It can detect methane as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

PARC (a Xerox Company) – Printed Carbon Nanotube Sensors
Partners: US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and British Petroleum (BP)
PARC’s Printed Carbon Nanotube Sensors are easy to scale up while still being low-cost (less than $350 per year per site), and can detect leaks at one part per million within a meter.


Distance-Sensing Technologies

University of Colorado (Boulder) – Frequency Comb-based Methane Sensing
Partners: US National Institute for Standards and Tracking (NIST), US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The novel design is simplified to reduce the cost of dual comb spectroscopy.

General Electric (GE) – Microstructured Optical Fiber
Partners: Virginia Polytechnic University (Virginia Tech)
GE’s optical fiber methane sensors have broad applications throughout the oil and gas industry, especially for larger-scale infrastructure.


Aerial Technologies

Physical Sciences, Inc. (PSI) – UAV-based Laser Spectroscopy
Partners: Health Consultants, ThorLabs, Princeton University, the University of Houston, Cascodium
Mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the device can operate in two modes: continuous monitoring to detect/quantify leaks with alarm notification and an active search to pinpoint them.

Bridger Photonics, Inc. – Mobile LiDAR Sensors
The drone-mounted LiDAR rapidly produces three-dimensional topographic maps and detect leaks at rates as low as one gram per minute.


Imaging Technologies

Rebellion Photonics – Portable Imaging Spectrometer
A miniature version of Rebellion’s Gas Cloud Imager (GCI), the long-wave camera is the size of soda can and can be incorporated into personal protective equipment.

Enabling Technologies

ThorLabs – Tunable Mid-infrared Laser
Partners: Praevium Research, Rice University
The innovative mid-IR laser is applicable not only for methane detection but across many applications at a fraction of the cost of similar laser sensors.


 

All of the ARPA-E projects will be field-testing these incredible new technologies between now and 2018, and you can keep track of each project’s progress at arpa-e.energy.gov! You can find Dr. Willson’s presentation as well as other presentations from the Global Methane Forum at globalmethane.org/forum/presentations.html.

#GMF2016 Day 2: Methane Policies and Re-charter Ceremony

Hello again from the Global Methane Forum conference site at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.! We had an incredibly successful concluding day of the Global Methane Initiative portion of this week’s proceedings.

The morning session on country-level methane policies featured the approach of five countries toward methane policy, with representatives:

GMF-sclp-measures
Breakout of SCLP policy measures and best practices.
  • Canada: Mike Beale, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Stewardship Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada;
  • Colombia: Eduardo Sanchez, Climate Change Advisor, Ministry of Mines and Energy;
  • Mexico: Maria Amparo Martínez, Institute of Ecology and Climate Change;
  • Philippines: Emmanuel de Guzman, Secretary of Climate Change, Climate Change Commission; and
  • United States: Rick Duke, Deputy Director for Climate Policy, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change.

The key take-away from the policy session was that policies to mitigate methane are not one-size-fits-all, and depend upon the key methane sources in each country and the various levels of government’s willingness and capacity to address these sources.

Following the policy roundtable, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its latest methane-focused voluntary effort in the oil & gas sector, the Methane Challenge. The Methane Challenge will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within 5 years. Representatives from 41 companies from across the value chain participated in the ceremony with EPA Acting Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air, Janet McCabe.

GMF-gina
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy delivering a keynote presentation at the Global Methane Forum. 

After the Methane Challenge launch, participants were treated to a keynote by the passionate, feisty EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. Administrator McCarthy spoke about the value of methane mitigation in terms of environmental, health, and economic benefits, and how voluntary partnerships like GMI play an integral role.

 

“So much of our success to date has been possible because of the leadership and cooperation of the international community. When it comes to global challenges like climate change, partnerships and collaborations that can bridge national interests and bring us together are really the core, essential, ingredient for success,” she said.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.16.45 PM

Finally – the event we here at GMI had been awaiting – GMI’s Re-charter ceremony that officially extends GMI’s charter by a further 5 years, and formalizes new alliances with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The ceremony featured speeches from GMI, CCAC, and UNECE by Joe Goffman, Associate Administrator and Senior Counsel, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. EPA; Rita Cerutti, Director, Multilateral Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Co-chair, CCAC Working Group; and Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE, respectively.

GMI-work-since-2004

Following another afternoon of intense sector-focused technical and policy sessions in the biogas, coal mines, and oil & gas sectors, participants finally got to indulge in some socializing and networking at the official reception hosted by the U.S. State Department. We would like to thank supporters FLSmidth and GHGSat for their assistance in providing libations to all Forum participants at this reception.

Thank you to our 500+ participants of the Global Methane Forum! Presentations from the sessions will be available in a few weeks on our website. Stay posted to our Twitter account for the latest happenings during the rest of the week. Moving on to the CCAC Science & Policy Dialogue today…

December News Round-Up and Hello 2016!

The final month of 2015 marked both an extreme peak and extreme trough in terms of methane news. Let’s start with the peak:

WE HAVE A CLIMATE DEAL!

The COP21 negotiations in Paris concluded just one day late on December 12 to produce a comprehensive global deal. You can find the key points from the deal here. Government representatives and GMI partner the Climate and Clean Air Coalition discussed commitments on methane reductions in the early days of COP21. Additionally, the New York Times created a sensible list on how individuals can approach tackling climate change.

The Paris climate deal is certainly an excellent way to end the year on a high, but unfortunately, it’s accompanied by a low in the United States: the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site near Porter Ranch, California, ruptured in October due to aging infrastructure and has been spewing methane into the atmosphere ever since. Called “the largest environmental disaster in the U.S. since the BP oil spill,’’ 1,700 homes have been evacuated so far, and California’s methane emissions have risen by 25% due to the leak. Unfortunately, the leak is technically difficult to fix, so it is likely to continue for several weeks. You can check out an infrared video of the leak here.

A couple other pieces of not-so-great news in December: first, scientists believe that methane emissions from melting Arctic permafrost could be underestimated. Second, a new study finds that methane emissions due to oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale formation in the United States may be nearly twice current estimates. So, it is even more urgent to begin implementation of the Paris climate deal.

Finally, to conclude 2015 on a lighter note: scientists created a “belch backpack” for cows and captured a time lapse series to showcase methane emitted from enteric fermentation.

 

Happy New Year to our friends around the world!

 

December Methane News Round-Up

 

Featured Project Network Members:

NEW Video Series – Methane Mitigation Matters

Have you visited our homepage recently? If so, you may have noticed that we recently debuted a new video! Your Administrative Support Group has worked hard over the past year to create four introductory videos on methane sources and methane mitigation. The Overview video focuses on the role of methane in climate change. You can view the video below, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

P.S. You can preview the other videos here, but we will also be featuring them in this space over the next few weeks.