Laser technology to map industrial plant gases available through Alberta Research Council


Companies wanted for commercial tests of unique technology

(February 6, 2004 EDMONTON) Alberta Research Council Inc. (ARC) scientists are seeking industry partners to test laser technology that measures emissions from flares, storage tanks, gas processing plants, feedlots and refineries. The technology, called Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL), measure gases such as methane, sulphur dioxide, benzene and other volatile organic compounds remotely over distances up to 2 kilometres.

"This technology is powerful in its ability to directly measure and quantify mass emissions of compounds from an entire facility versus a small area," says Allan Chambers, research scientist with ARC's Carbon and Energy Management business unit. "We can even create two- and three-dimensional maps of an emissions plume in the atmosphere. Companies using this technology can get a detailed measurement of emissions from their facilities, identify major sources of emissions and assign a dollar value to these emissions."

The DIAL laser, owned and operated by Spectrasyne Ltd., UK, is the only commercially-operated unit in the world. DIAL sends out two laser pulses: one that is strongly absorbed by the gas of interest and one that is weakly absorbed . "By measuring the relative intensity and timing of the returned signals, we can determine the concentration profile of the gas in question along the light path," says Chambers. When combined with wind speed measurements, we can calculate mass emission fluxes of the compound.

The Spectrasyne DIAL operates from a self-contained mobile unit that can be set up quickly to provide mass emissions measurements on-site. In the first North American demonstration of the unit in May 2003, Chambers arranged to bring the technology to Alberta to measure emissions from flares and processing facilities. Chambers wants to continue to adapt and validate the technology's capability and accuracy for tracking plumes and quantifying fugitive emissions from industrial and agricultural facilities.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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