During production, oil and gas production facilities around the world use something called flaring to get rid of hydrocarbons not able to be recovered. Some residual methane can seep out into the environment.
Methane is an insidious greenhouse offender, and I always find it amusing and also very concerning that cow farts are a menacing source.
Oil and gas facilities leak methane, a greenhouse gas
Lockheed Martin’s Fighter Jet Tech shines an infrared light on the problem to help producers optimize solutions
Even small adjustments to contain methane can have a huge impact
Lockheed Martin was able to leverage technology developed for advanced tactical fighter jets to develop a video imaging spectral radiometry (VISR) flare monitor that uses IR images to measure how efficiently the flare burns off atmosphere suffocating emissions. Lockheed manufacturers the IR sensor.
In fairness, let’s give a shout out to the two other players involved: Surface Optics designed the VISR multispectral camera and manufactures the system, and team lead Providence Photonics provides software that analyzes the IR imagery and optimizes flare performance.
The VISR flare monitor marks a big advancement in getting a handle on our greenhouse gas production. It’s the first readily deployable monitoring solution that directly measures methane emissions entering the environment. More than just monitor the flare stacks, the cameras also can help to continuously optimize combustion as part of a permanent system and maintain flare compliance with applicable regulations such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. Here’s an example of the incredible impact: increasing combustion efficiency from 96.5 to 98 percent yields a 40 percent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions.
BP plc (British Petroleum) companies have already jumped on board employing the cameras production sites in Alaska and Angola, with more facilities adopting the technology by end of year. Hello, American gas and oil producers, what are you waiting for?