Field campaigns and the emissions of industrial sites

A growing body of evidence points to the importance of methane (CH4) in industrial emissions. These emissions are usually unintended and so called “fugitive” (leaks). They are hard to identify and quantify, as they do not relate to easily measurable processes, unlike the combustion of fossil fuels for CO2. The uncertainty of CH4 emission inventories for fugitive sources, such as waste (landfills), and gas extraction (shale gas) reaches 50-100%. During the past few years, research groups have developed new emission quantification methods using atmospheric measurements. These studies demonstrated that it is possible to identify, characterize and verify CH4 emissions for different industrial sites, helping the site operators to control their emissions. Targeted measurement campaigns during the lifetime of a facility and for different modes of operation thus allow an accurate assessment of the impact of on-site management and industrial processes on emissions.

Both for industrial sites and urban sources (e.g. gas distribution network leaks, sewage water), the cost and weight of atmospheric sensors is currently the main barrier to the operational deployment of effective emission tracking systems. In TRACE, we propose to overcome this barrier, by accelerating the performance verification and improvement of low-cost GHG sensors. This will open the door to continuous monitoring of CH4 emissions on-site and the deployment of pilot commercial services.

Plans are for demonstrator projects in this Component to include: detecting local intense GHG sources, by using the open-path system and a drone-based system above hard-to-access industrial sites, as well as deploying dense mini-networks of low-cost GHG sensors (CO2, CH4, possibly NOx) on a routinely circulating fleet of SUEZ vehicles to detect emissions hot-spots in urban environments. After establishing the methodology for routine observations of GHG concentration they will be linked to local emissions using modelling tools from LSCE and deployed in a pilot service from SUEZ, i.e. for the sewage collection network in les Hauts de Seine. We will furthermore test the feasibility of accurate monitoring of long-term GHG emission trends due to management or changing meteorological conditions at two industrial sites, 1) a landfill from SUEZ where CH4 is released by waste decomposition and CO2 from on-site incinerators, and 2) a gas extraction site from TOTAL where process losses of CO2 and CH4 and flare emissions occur. These observation based emission estimates will be compared to those obtained using default emission factors, current used for official inventories.