Application Note

Airborne Detection Of Methane Leaks Using Hyperspectral Imaging

Source: TELOPS

The worldwide natural gas transmission and distribution system is composed of millions of kilometers of pipelines and by thousands of transmission and compressor stations, valves and distribution centers. With an ever-increasing regulatory pressure and increased cost of raw material, Oil & Gas, pipelines companies and distributors are worried about gas leaks occurring in their aging infrastructures. The choice of reliable and cost efficient gas leak detection technologies is an important challenge for those companies. Various technologies and if products are currently used to detect these leaks, minimizing associated hazards and risks to the environment and for the population.

Integrated into a fully automated gimbal onboard a helicopter, the Telops Hyper-Cam, an infrared hyperspectral imager, has been used to perform an airborne detection of a methane gas leak. This paper describes how the remote detection of a methane gas leak was successfully achieved with the Telops airborne hyperspectral imaging system.

Natural gas leak detection in the transmission and distribution system is a responsibility that Oil & Gas and pipeline companies must assume. While these leaks represent important revenue losses, they also pose serious threats to the environment and to the public security. This is why surveillance and monitoring of these infrastructures require the use of rapid, selective and sensitive detection technologies and tools. Due to the flammable nature of natural gas, remote sensing is the ideal and safest way to detect gas leaks, making airborne detection the preferred and the most cost efficient approach as large distances can be rapidly inspected in a short period of time. Indeed, standard detection methods are mostly efficient when short distances between the monitoring device and the gas leak are involved. Thus, the suitable method for airborne leak surveying is performed only by traveling close to leak plumes. Remote sensing using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is a Non-invasive technique for the detection and identification of gases such as methane (CH4), the main component of natural gas.