At a Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a novel system and method to reduce methane emissions. This mitigation approach aims to reduce atmospheric discharge of methane from sites such as oil and gas wellheads and landfills by creating a robust, low-cost, and sustainable methanotrophic bio-barrier (MBB) to convert methane emissions from such sites, as well as provide real time monitoring of emissions, MBB performance and the rate of methane reduction.
Methane emissions are a significant contributor to climate change. Methane emissions are 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and methane is not as bioavailable for organisms to utilize. Because of this, methane emissions are a large target for remediation and reduction. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of U.S. methane emissions come from oil and gas development and landfills (1). The EPA further estimates that there are more than 3 million total abandoned oil and gas wells. About 2 million of those are estimated to be very old and not properly sealed or managed. The agency believes these wells are responsible for most emitted methane (2).
Therefore, there exists a critical unmet need to not only quantify methane emissions and flow rates at such sites but to inform methods to remediate and reduce these harmful emissions.
Researchers have developed an engineered bio-barrier to naturally reduce methane emissions from abandoned wells and landfills. By utilizing natural gas flows, this new layered system utilizes passive reactive barriers that facilitate transformation of subsurface methane into CO2 prior to atmospheric discharge. The configuration allows for remediation and reduction of methane emissions inground. Furthermore, this technology includes real-time monitoring of reduction rate and bio-barrier performance with sensors that communicate to a central location wirelessly to cloud-based data storage. This data can then be analyzed and visualized to track performance, adjust parameters, and provides proof of methane emission reduction.
Efficiency and feasibility studies are ongoing.
- Methane emissions reduction through conversion
- System design takes advantage of existing gas flow rates for natural transformation of methane
- Real time performance monitoring of methane emissions
- Quantifiable reduction of methane emissions
- Robust sensors provide accurate measurement of critical aspects of remediation
- Cost effective system reduces methane emissions at less than $150/ton of carbon equivalents
- Oil and gas well site remediation
- Landfill emissions reduction
Last updated: May 2022