Battery-free methane detector project tackles global heating

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Scottish startup AlbaSense is developing a battery-free methane sensor using a high efficiency solar cell from Lightricity and LoRa wireless networking.

Methane is a significant contributor to global heating. Reducing methane emissions, particularly from oil and gas operations, is one of the most cost-effective actions governments can take to achieve climate goals.

Detecting leaks across a large site requires reliable cost-effective distributed sensors and eliminating the battery replacement cycle reduces the operating costs.

AlbaSense develops high throughput thin film optical filters with up to four times the sensitivity of non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) gas sensors. This can be traded off with the Lightricity photovoltaic cells and power management IP.

The distributed methane sensor networks can improve measurement regularity and granularity over current remote sensing survey approaches. However, hard wiring is not practical or cost effective and battery power is unacceptable due to the need for regular changes requiring engineers working in hazardous areas

Worker safety monitoring with lower-cost portable methane detectors requires bulky, rechargeable battery-powered devices that the industry is seeking to avoid for operational and environmental reasons.

The sensors are linked by the long-range LoRa wireless protocol, minimising on-site gateway infrastructure as the sib-GHz lknks have a range up to 10km. The sensors will be able to operate indoors and outdoors providing the granularity of measurement to allow much more widespread and cost-effective sensing in multiple applications.

Other schemes such as QLM’s quantum sensor are used to detect methane emissions at even higher sensitivities.

AlbaSense is aiming at both fixed sensor and wearable badge formats with performance over a representative range of methane levels.



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