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Detecting Surface Methane Emissions

Detecting Surface Methane Emissions

Surface methane gas emissions from landfill gas

Methane gas is a colorless, odorless natural gas that is released from animal feed lots, natural gas and oil extraction wells and their associated pipelines, as well as landfill sites. Methane gas poses several safety and environmental problems, and consequently it needs to be monitored in order to ensure worker and public safety, and to meet environmental standards. Exposure to methane gas in confined spaces can cause asphyxiation; methane is highly flammable and explosive; and methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes heavily to climate warming. Yet, because it is both colorless and odorless, it is not readily detected, making it potentially hazardous.

Controlling Landfill Emissions

As organic waste accumulates in landfills, it decomposes and releases methane gas and other toxic pollutants during the breakdown process. In the US, landfill sites are the largest contributor of anthropogenic methane emissions. Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, but in terms of its warming capacity, it is more than 20% more potent than carbon dioxide. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the contribution of landfills to methane emissions and climate warming. As part of ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they have implemented regulations that require new and existing landfills that emit more than 50 megagrams of methane per year to take measures to control methane emissions by drilling a system of collection wells to collect the methane to be burned off or used as a source of energy. As part of these new regulations, landfill managers have to prove that their site emissions fall under the 50 Mg per year threshold or take steps above to reduce these emissions. Furthermore, the new regulations require landfill managers to monitor surface methane concentrations every quarter. If after three consecutive measurements, the surface methane concentrations exceed 500 parts per million, methane collection systems will need to be expanded to comply with the regulation.

Monitoring Surface Methane

Monitoring surface methane emissions with a TDL-500 methand detector However, landfill managers need not fear. Monitoring surface methane is simple when the right tools are on hand. The TDL-500 Portable Lazer Diode Methane Detector is the prefect tool for the job. Weighing just 5.9 pounds (2.5 Kg), it is lightweight and portable, coming complete with a carrying harness as well as a handy case for added protection and portability. It comes complete with a rechargeable battery that will last for up to 8 hours of continuous use in temperatures of 20 °C. The TDL-500 Portable Methane Detector is fitted with a laser diode that is highly sensitive, making it capable of detecting methane at levels as low as 1 ppm. Measurements can be displayed in various modes simultaneously on the LCD panel. When methane is detected it gives off audible and visual alarms to alert the user. The TDL-500 Portable Methane Detector is ATEX certified and can be used in areas that are highly explosive. It is thus also suitable for use in other sectors such as the oil and gas industry -- where the built in GPS feature is particularly useful for setting up routes, recording readings, and detecting methane leaks and pin-pointing their exact location.

Safety & Environment

This handy piece of equipment will allow you to quickly measure surface methane levels on site, giving you the piece of mind knowing that there is no imminent danger to workers and surrounding communities, and that your site complies with safety and environmental regulations. Feature Image by London Permaculutre, via Flickr
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