Characterizing methane, VOC, and hap emissions from natural gas production activities using mobile laboratories equipped with real-time sampling and analysis technology

Lead University: Carnegie Mellon University
PI: Albert Presto, Mechanical Engineering
Co-PI(s): Allen Robinson, Mechanical Engineering and R. Subramanian, Mechanical Engineering

The Marcellus Shale boom is radically changing the economy and landscape of Pennsylvania, however its impacts on both the regional and global environment are poorly characterized. The shale boom also presents an opportunity to environmental services companies, as future regulations on the natural gas industry may require producers to measure and control methane and hydrocarbon emissions. This project will combine the mobile laboratory capabilities of the CMU Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS) and RJ Lee Group (RJLG) to investigate emissions from natural gas infrastructure in the Marcellus Shale region and to demonstrate the ability of mobile laboratories to perform regulatory-level emissions monitoring. The goals of the project are (1) measure emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), from shale gas production and processing activities and methane super emitters, (2) perform inverse modeling of mobile data to identify methane super emitters, and (3) evaluate and assess real time data generated by the mobile laboratories against EPA reference methods. The results of this project will allow CAPS to develop modeling tools that will benefit both shale gas and air quality research at CMU as well as add new capacity to identify methane super emitters in Pennsylvania. The project will also validate the RJLG mobile laboratory for use in investigating emissions from shale gas operations.