Making the gas industry safer

University of Glasgow engineers worked with Siemens on an EU-funded project to detect gas leaks using laser technology.

laser

The gas industry requires safe, rapid and accurate means of detecting leaks of natural gas. An EU-funded project involving researchers at Glasgow has developed a system which uses a laser beam to detect small quantities of methane escaping from pipelines.

The system, referred to as a laser pointer, measures the spectral absorption of methane as the laser beam passes through the air around the suspected leak. Different gases absorb light at different frequencies so each has a characteristic absorption signature. Field tests found that it could detect concentrations of methane from a few tens to at least 1000 parts per million from a distance of up to 30 metres.

Five prototype instruments were manufactured by the University of Glasgow and their partner Siemens CT, with Glasgow’s instruments designed to be the technical reference. Funded through one of the European Union’s major research programmes this technology will save the gas and energy industries money and reduce the risks to human lives from undetected gas leaks.

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