Scientists develop new technology to detect deep sea gas leaks

Oct 12, 2011

A new ultra-sensitive technology which can monitor leaks from underwater gas pipelines has been developed by scientists at the University of Southampton.

The research has shown that potentially environmentally and financially disastrous gas leaks from pipelines, and methane naturally leaking from the seabed, could in future be detected using changes in .

Using a simple set of underwater microphones to monitor these changes would provide a cost effective, unique detection system which would be one hundred times more sensitive than current monitors used by the oil and gas industry for remote detection with long deep sea pipelines.

"This new technology could save and distribution companies millions in lost revenue. Severe leaks can also be dangerous to nearby , shipping and for shore-based gas distribution facilities," comments Professor Tim Leighton of the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research who led the research.

He adds: "The technology would allow us remotely to monitor and potentially reduce the release into the atmosphere of gases from the seabed. This applies both to gas extracted by the petrochemical industries and to the methane which is naturally released from the seabed."

Natural leaks of can be damaging to the environment because it is a greenhouse pollutant.

The new acoustic technology, which is in early development, could also be used in future to monitor the structural integrity of carbon capture and storage facilities which are being developed globally. These facilities will trap , which scientists believe may be contributing to global warming. The UK government has just announced it is investing £1 billion in their development.

Explore further: New tech aims to improve communication between dogs and humans

More information: The research was developed by Professor Tim Leighton and Professor Paul White and published today (Wednesday, 12 October 2011) by the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plants used to detect gas leaks, from outer space!

Apr 06, 2006

Gas leaks can be potentially life threatening in the home, but the presence of gas stresses out plants too. Professor Mike Steven and colleagues from the University of Nottingham have found that changes in ...

Deep sea pipelines to green gas production

Oct 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Queensland researchers are working to tap into a wealth of natural gas resources located in distant, deep-ocean fields off the coast of Western Australia.

Fracking leaks may make gas 'dirtier' than coal

Apr 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale could do more to aggravate global warming than mining coal, according to a Cornell study published in the May issue of Climatic Change Letters (105:5).

Understanding methane's seabed escape

Sep 19, 2011

A shipboard expedition off Norway, to determine how methane escapes from beneath the Arctic seabed, has discovered widespread pockets of the gas and numerous channels that allow it to reach the seafloor.

Recommended for you

Study says upgrading infrastructure could reduce flood damage

Oct 29, 2014

The severe flooding that devastated a wide swath of Colorado last year might have been less destructive if the bridges, roads and other infrastructure had been upgraded or modernized, according to a new study from the University ...

Walk through buildings from your own device

Oct 29, 2014

Would you like to visit The Frick Collection art museum in New York City but can't find the time? No problem. You can take a 3-D virtual tour that will make you feel like you are there, thanks to Yasutaka ...

'Ambulance drone' prototype unveiled in Holland

Oct 28, 2014

A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an "ambulance drone", a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.