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Development of atmospheric tracer methods to measure methane emissions from natural gas facilities and urban areas.

  • Author(s): Lamb, BK;
  • McManus, JB;
  • Shorter, JH;
  • Kolb, CE;
  • Mosher, B;
  • Harriss, RC;
  • Allwine, E;
  • Blaha, D;
  • Howard, T;
  • Guenther, A;
  • Lott, RA;
  • Siverson, R;
  • Westburg, H;
  • Zimmerman, P
  • et al.

A new, integrated methodology to locate and measure methane emissions from natural gas systems has been developed. Atmospheric methane sources are identified by elevated ambient CH4 concentrations measured with a mobile laser-based methane analyzer. The total methane emission rate from a source is obtained by simulating the source with a sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer gas release and by measuring methane and tracer concentrations along downwind sampling paths using mobile, real-time analyzers. Combustion sources of methane are distinguished from noncombustion sources by concurrent ambient carbon dioxide measurements. Three variations on the tracer ratio method are described for application to (1) small underground vaults, (2) aboveground natural gas facilities, and (3) diffuse methane emissions from an entire town. Results from controlled releases and from replicate tests demonstrate that the tracer ratio approach can yield total emission rates to within approximately ±15%. The estimated accuracy of emission estimates for urban areas with a variety of diffuse emissions is ±50%. © 1995, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

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