The Importance of ch4 Monitoring to Minimize Risks of Methane Leaks

Due to an abundance of methane (ch4), it is considered as a very attractive fuel. It is also used in many industrial chemical processes. Gas pipelines distribute large amounts of natural gas of which methane is the primary component. It is also transported in the form of refrigerated liquid methane or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Methane is non-toxic but it highly flammable and may form explosive mixtures with air. It also known as an asphyxiant which requires ch4 monitoring in enclosed spaces. Breathing methane in large quantities for a prolonged period of time can result in oxygen deficiency, lack of muscle coordination, emotional upset, nausea and vomiting. 

The environmental consequences of natural gas production and use

Natural gas is primarily composed of methane and when it is burned to produce electricity, it emits less than half as much carbon dioxide than if coal is burned at the power plants. However, unburned methane that leaks into the atmosphere is at least 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period and 100 times more powerful over a 20-year period. A methane leak will significantly diminish all efforts to control global warming. Technologies to reduce to methane leaks are available and so with ch4 monitoring in a natural gas production plant. Both of this equipment will ensure that methane leaks are minimized to below 1% of production.

Pollution from natural gas operations

Natural gas and oil operations are the largest sources of methane emissions which contribute to higher levels of ozone pollution. In areas of concentrated activities, the emissions are more substantial. Very often, storage tanks can be the source of combined VOC and nitrogen oxide emissions. These emissions can impact air quality particularly in rural areas where there is little industrial activity other than the natural gas production plants. At some point, methane leaks can be large enough to negate the efforts towards a better alternative fossil fuel. Achieving and maintaining low emissions from air pollutants in the natural gas and oil production is also crucial to reducing the adverse health effects of methane to the community. Better emission data through ch4 monitoring is needed to confidently evaluate the risks and to effectively manage operations.

Possible sources of methane emissions

Methane emissions can result from leaks and routine venting during the production, processing and transport of natural gas.  There are many individual components that are prone to leaks which include compressors, valves, pumps, flanges, gauges and pipe connectors. In addition to unintentional leaks, other sources can be pneumatic valves which are used through the natural gas system. Methane can also be vented from storage tanks, dehydrators, depressuring equipment prior to maintenance and wells after hydraulic fracturing or when liquids are removed. Workers can suffer from health risks due to methane leaks which require ch4 monitoring in the natural gas processing plant. Through ch4 monitoring, the levels of methane can be measured and if there are leaks, it can be contained immediately so as not to adversely affect health, the environment and plant operations. 

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