ORCID Identifier(s)

ORCID 0000-0003-1515-0290, ORCID 0000-0002-8319-0940, ORCID 0000-0003-1684-1843, ORCID 0000-0003-2832-048X

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Production/Collection Location



Kathleen Smits

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Data Type

Experimental data


Reducing the amount of leaked natural gas (NG) from pipelines from production to use has become a high priority in efforts to cut anthropogenic emissions of methane and ensure public safety. However, tracking and evaluating NG pipeline leaks, especially at moderate to high flow rates, requires a better understanding of the leak from the source to the detector as well as more robust quantification methods. To better understand fugitive emissions from NG pipelines, we developed a field scale testbed that simulates mid and high-pressure gas leaks from belowground natural gas infrastructure. The system is equipped with subsurface, surface and atmospheric sensors to continuously monitor changes in soil and atmospheric conditions (e.g., moisture, pressure, temperature) and methane concentrations near real-time throughout the site. Using this testbed, we are currently conducting a series of gas leakage experiments to study the transient behavior of significant pipeline leaks subjected to varying subsurface (e.g., soil moisture, heterogeneity, competing utilities) and atmospheric conditions (near-surface wind and temperature). This work has also led to the advancement of methods for measuring underground gas concentration for high-speed migration during transient leakage events. Our approach allows us to establish the relative importance of the many pathways for methane migration between the source and the sensor location. These findings will better inform leak detectors of leak severity, aiding with safety precautions and work order categorization for improved efficiency.


Earth Sciences | Engineering | Environmental Sciences

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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