UAV gas monitoring project

Quest UAV

The energy industry produces, transports and uses large volumes of gases including methane (CH4) and, in the future, carbon dioxide (CO2). It is important that such gases do not accidentally leak from production facilities, pipelines and stores, but these cover large areas and monitoring them effectively with current technology is very challenging.

BGS and QuestUAV Ltd., with co-funding from Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, are meeting this challenge by developing a cost-effective small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) gas detection system, which trained operators can take to sites for rapid monitoring. The aim is to fill the market gap between time-consuming surface monitoring and costly conventional manned aircraft, and will identify areas of leaks or fugitive emissions that can then be investigated further and rectified where necessary.

Detecting CH4 will be the main focus of the work. We will modify appropriate detectors and develop new ways to combine the flight data and gas analyses in order to produce 2D and 3D maps of gas concentration. To demonstrate high confidence in the results, we will also thoroughly test the accuracy of the measurements using more standard (though slower) methods.

Kick off meeting 23 November 2015

The kick off meeting held at BGS Keyworth, with the UAV being demonstrated by QuestUAV.

A small UAV system was chosen mainly due to portability, flexibility and efficiency gains. The fixed-wing UAV, weighing less than 7 kg, was demonstrated at the kick off meeting, and various aspects of the project were discussed.

One of the main challenges of the project will be to design and build a prototype UAV gas sensor system, focusing on CH4 monitoring. Ultimately it is expected to be deployed to monitor emissions from energy operations, although preliminary testing will take place over a selection of appropriate sites.

This project is an early stage technical feasibility project, running for 12 months, and will seek to establish that a pre-industrial concept is ready for further technology development.

The BGS team
Fixed Wing UAV

The British Geological Survey attended the Rushlight Show 2017 25 January 2017

Rushlight Show 2017 exhibition stand

The British Geological Survey attended the Rushlight Show 2017 in London on 25th January to exhibit a prototype Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) gas monitoring system for the energy sector. The prototype system is the product of a project examining the technical feasibility of using small unmanned aerial vehicles to detect and monitor methane, incorporating novel technology development. The project is based on a collaboration with QuestUAV Ltd. and co-funded by an early stage Energy Catalyst grant from Innovate UK. Visitors to the event were able to see a drone and discuss the technical applications and capability of the UAV gas monitoring system. Questions were asked about the accuracy of the GPS on the UAV; is methane modelling is done in real time; does the drone carry a camera as well as the sensor; could it also measure for carbon dioxide or hydrogen; how fast does it fly; how long can it fly for; when will it be available; will it be patented; and what are the next stages in the project? Interested exhibition attendees took a flyer which explained the project progress, rationale and the advantages of the new system versus current gas monitoring systems together with the system capabilities. It is expected that data from the UAV gas monitoring system will help to detect whether there are fugitive gas emissions or help to pinpoint and quantify gases in the atmosphere.


Contact Colm Jordan for more information.